Between 25-31st May is Exercise Right Week and this years theme is “Movement is Medicine.” This is a topic I am very passionate about, because for me exercise is medicine and is a non-negotiable part of my daily health routine.
Many of us are well acquainted with the physical health benefits of exercise such as, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and all cause mortality.
However, less of us think of exercise as a way to support our mental health. Through exercise, we increase blood circulation to the brain improving concentration, release endorphins that improve mood, positively impact our self-esteem, create purpose and a sense of accomplishment.
If you aren’t a regular exerciser and find that the same old excuses and barriers are holding you back, here I am tackling some of the common myths which prevent us from exercising and how to overcome them:
“I don’t have time”
Gone are the days when the standard exercise session is 60min. In today’s world, they can be as short as 10min and repeated 3 times during the day or one single 15-20min session. Everyone has a spare 15min and the beauty of today’s exercise landscape is that movement can be done outside, at a gym or at home in the living room. It’s about making movement enough of a priority and avoid seeing it as a mammoth task – see it as 15min out of your day, which is nothing!
“I don’t have the right equipment”
There is no “one size fits all” approach to exercise and equipment is not a pre-requisite to exercising – in some cases, you don’t even need shoes! There are many styles of resistance training which just relies on body weight such as HIIT and Tabata and cardio can be done outside or in the backyard. Start with what you do have or find replacements such as:
No yoga mat > use a towel
No weights > use cans from the pantry or fill water bottles with sand
No bench for dips > use a chair
“I don’t have the energy to exercise”
When tired, the last thing we want to do is get active. To overcome this, think about why you may not have energy and what you can do to fix it, such as:
- Inactivity – a big cause of poor energy, start slow and build up your intensity as your energy increases. If feeling fatigued during a workout, opt for restorative exercise such as yoga, tai chi and pilates.
- Poor diet – a poorly balanced diet or a diet devoid of nutrients can lead to poor energy. Keep a food diary for 3-4 days to get an insight into what you are eating and see if there are any gaps. Additionally, if you don’t adequately refuel after an exercise session, this can also lead to poor recovery and fatigue. Ideally get some complex carbs and protein into the next meal or snack following your session and make sure you are eating enough kilojoules to sustain the exercise.
- Lack of sleep – poor sleep has a negative knock on effect on most areas of health and to feel our best, a good nights sleep is critical. When we don’t sleep well, we tend to want to conserve our energy, which leads to low activity, which can have an impact on sleep, creating a vicious cycle. I have talked about ways to support sleep before and to check out my tips click HERE.
“It’s too cold!”
This is a very common excuse as we approach winter in Australia. Hitting snooze on the alarm clock and staying in a warm bed is much more appealing then getting up to exercise. To overcome this, see exercise as a way to warm up and make sure you have the right clothing or are exercising in the right environment to avoid being too cold. For example, if you usually exercise outdoors over summer, try exercising indoors and put the heater on initially, if needed. Clothing wise, wear layers so you can strip off as you start to warm up. Once you see its not that bad, you will breakthrough this barrier.
“Exercise is only about weight loss and I don’t need to lose weight”
Weight aside, you will have already read above that exercise offers so many health benefits, others then weight loss. Try to focus on these and know that even if weight isn’t a concern, it’s still important to exercise for overall health and happiness.