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Get Healthier by Putting Aside Excuses for Not Exercising

For every excuse not to exercise, a better reason exists to make the effort to get in shape and grow stronger, healthier, and happier with your body. Here are some common excuses to avoid exercise — and some ways to work around your hesitation.

  • I don’t have time. This is the No. 1 reason most people give for not exercising.

    Americans watch about 30 hours a week. Trade one hour of TV watching each day for one hour of exercise. Get up a half-hour early. Walk during your lunch hour. Give you dog — or kids — a treat by taking them with you on a nice long walk.

  • I don’t feel like it. Grab a buddy and make a commitment. Chances are that one of you will want to keep moving even when the other doesn’t.

  • I can’t do exercises well. To start, try walking, not jogging, running, or race walking. You can saunter, meander, or stroll. Just move. After a few weeks, you’ll feel more comfortable.

  • I can’t get to my workout place easily. You may find it motivating to go to a school track, a mall, or the woods. You can also take the stairs, get off the bus earlier and walk the rest of the way, park at the far end of the lot, or pace while waiting for the train.

  • Exercise didn’t work for me in the past. Try to figure out why past attempts to stick with exercise failed, or why you believe that your past gets in your way. Work out your own way around the problem.

  • I’m too fat to move. Have you tried “chair dancing”? You can get tapes to guide you through a seated exercise routine. (Call 1-800-551-4386 or visit http://www.chairdancing.com.)

    Active at Any Size, a publication from the National Institutes of Health’s Weight-Control Information Network, has many ideas and resources.

  • I have poor balance. Balance is a problem for obese people who have been sedentary. You may want to start with strength training because one of the key health benefits of building muscle is improved balance. When you’re ready to add walking, make sure that you have comfortable footwear that has a wide sole and good support.

  • I’m afraid. Fear stops people from doing all kinds of things, but the best antidote for fear is action. Grab a buddy to encourage you. Keep your sense of humor primed. Make exercise fun!

  • Exercising hurts. If an activity doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. Never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you feel any pain, slow down or cut back on the exercise you do and slowly work your way back up.

    Listen to your body. If you’re new to exercise and have been sedentary, it’s possible to translate any discomfort you feel while exercising as pain. Chances are you’re experiencing the sensation of physical effort. Effort is important to work to the next level; pain is not. If the distress you feel continues after you stop moving, that’s pain. If you feel better when you stop, you’re putting in effort and that’s good. Keep going.

  • I’m too embarrassed. Don’t worry about looking foolish. When you walk for exercise, you don’t have to join a gym filled with perky, spandex-clad instructors. You can be as private or as public as you like, depending on where you walk. You can wear whatever you want, too.

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