Most people are aware that exercise is good for us and we should try to include some physical activity in our day-to-day routine. Yet knowing this doesn't always translate into it happening. Some figures suggest as much as 37% of people in the UK do absolutely no physical activity.
There are countless reasons why people feel they can't exercise, but how many are just excuses? Do we need to start challenging these 'reasons' and start making exercise more of a priority? Keep reading to see how you can overcome some of your excuses for not exercising and start making regular physical activity a part of your life.
There's no doubt this is a reality for most of us. Busy lives filled with working, looking after family, socialising, domestic chores and various other responsibilities, leave us feeling beat. So why on earth do you want to work out and make yourself feel even more tired?
Well, what if I told you exercise could actually do quite the opposite and energise you? There is lots of research supporting the energy boosting effects of exercise. Much of it looks at the longer term effects on overall energy and feelings of fatigue [1, 2]. But many people also report feeling instantly energised after doing some physical activity.
On top of this, regular exercise can improve our sleep quality . This in turn leads to improved energy levels. So all in all, exercise is a winner for combating feelings of tiredness and fatigue. Next time you’re feeling sluggish and say you’re too tired to exercise, try popping out for a brisk 10 minute walk and see how your energy compares afterwards.
Again, there's no denying we all have super busy lives and time is precious. But exercise really is something we should 'make' time for. And the good news is, as little as 10 minutes per day can have powerful effects on our overall health!
One study looked at the effects of exercise each day on the number of preventable deaths each year and concluded that 10 minutes of exercise per day resulted in a 7% reduction . Upping the exercise duration to 20 and 30 minutes resulted in a 13% and 17% reduction in preventable deaths per year, respectively. These findings show just how important exercise is for health, and that even as little as 10 minutes per day can have significant health benefits. The dose-response effect seen shows the more exercise the better the benefit – while 10 minutes is good, 20 minutes is better, and 30 better still.
So ask yourself this, can you make time for just 10 minutes per day? Look at your current schedule and think about where you could fit it in. Lose 10 minutes from your evening TV time or get it into your lunch break for example. I think all of us can spare 10 minutes a day – we manage to find time for what is important to us, so it's just a case of prioritising exercise and making time for it.
Regular exercise doesn't have to mean going to an expensive gym or having 1:1 personal training sessions. There are so many free ways to get fit and active – with such a huge variety of options, everyone can hopefully find something free they enjoy.
The obvious and easiest choice is walking or running. All you need to do is strap on a pair of trainers, step out of your front door, and you've reached your exercise environment. A brisk walk or gentle jog can do you wonders and won't cost you a penny.
Running not your thing? Why not head down to your local park and set up an exercise circuit with a friend. Body weight exercises such as squats, push-ups, burpees, star jumps, and lunges are all great choices. Some parks also have free outside gyms these days too, so if you're fortunate enough to have one nearby, include the machine exercises in your circuit too.
If you'd prefer to keep your activity behind closed doors, you can find loads of free workout videos on YouTube – from old-school aerobics to modern day HIIT, you're sure to find something to suit your preferences.
Or why not plan some fun active things to do with the kids or grandkids – go on a bike ride, play a game of chase, play with a ball in the garden. Just because you're having fun, doesn't make it any less good for you! Movement is movement, and that's what's important.
It's a valid reason – if you don't enjoy something, you have little motivation to do it. But since exercise encompasses such a huge variety of activities, hopefully you can find something that works for you personally. If you don't like running, or swimming, or bike riding – what about lifting weights, or skipping, or hula-hooping? Try a few different options and see which one you get the most enjoyment out of.
Another tip is to simply put on a few of your favourite songs to dance and throw some shapes around the living room each day! Dancing doesn't have to be choreographed to be effective!
Try and encourage a friend to exercise with you too. Going for a walk and a natter with a friend is a great way to kill two birds with one stone – social time and exercise all in one!
Some people think all this talk about regular exercise is overhyped, and as long as you're eating well and not sat still for the entire day, then you'll be fine. But I can't stress enough just how good exercise is for us!
Firstly, inactivity is associated with an increased risk of several health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. And on the flip side, regular physical activity reduces the risk of these diseases . Also, as mentioned earlier, even a very small amount of exercise has been shown to have a significant benefit – the more exercise you do, the more good it does for you and reduces negative health risks further. Start small and gradually work your way up – because even that extra 10 minutes a day will do wonders for you.
Often when people have a goal to lose weight, they just view exercise as a way to burn additional calories to boost weight loss. While this is true, research has found that physical activity can significantly improve health in overweight individuals, even in the absence of any weight loss . These findings highlight how important exercise is for everyone, whether losing weight, gaining weight, maintaining weight – regular exercise should factor in your routine regardless, as it helps prolong life.
It can be all too easy to make excuses to not exercise or leave it off our priority list. But it really is a vital part of a healthy and long existence, so we should all make it a priority. Try to find your fun exercise and start squeezing in your 10 minutes a day – you won’t regret it!
Emma Brown (Certified Personal Trainer) has always loved fitness. She's passionate about the many benefits of regular exercise, particularly the positive impact on mental health and overall quality of life, as well as how it provides the key to successful weight management.