Here’s Why Most People Don’t Exercise
Here’s What to Do About It!
By David Meinz, MS, RD, FADA, CSP
You know you should, you know it’s good for you and you feel better when you do it so why don’t most people put fitness into their lifestyle? It’s my experience that most don’t integrate activity into their routine for two reasons:
#1 It’s Inconvenient.
As a speaker I travel a lot, and when I get into a hotel or back home late, the last thing I feel like doing is rushing to a gym and waiting in line for a piece of equipment that may or may not work. If you’re typical, your lifestyle doesn’t allow you a lot of free time.
You’ve probably said it yourself, “I would exercise if I could only find the time.”
Here’s how I solved that problem. First, I did away with the inconvenience. I bought a piece of equipment (a Schwinn Air-dyne exercise bike) and brought it home. Now, even if it’s eight-thirty at night, I can fit fitness in at my convenience. No more going to the gym, changing clothes, and trying to fit into their schedule. That one step has made all the difference in integrating activity into my lifestyle again.
In addition, I discovered that I can never find time, I need to schedule the time. Every Sunday, I look in my day timer for the week and schedule 3 slots for exercise. If someone calls and wants to meet with me at one of those times I simply explain that I have an “appointment.” You don’t have to tell people what you’re doing at that time any more than you need to explain the rest of your schedule.
All good intentions aside, if you don’t plan for activity, other very legitimate needs will crowd it out. Saturday is going to come around anyway. But by scheduling, you chalk up another week when you integrated positive, productive fitness into your life rather than once again being “too busy.”
#2 It’s Boring.
I’m in the business of promoting good health. Even as much as I believe in the concept of Health & Peak Performance, I still didn’t look forward to the drudgery of getting on my exercise bike for 20-30 minutes. Talk about dull!
I believe that in this sensory overloaded society of ours sweating and grunting for a half-hour doesn’t appeal to too many people. Even reminding myself how good this was for me didn’t do it. What we need to do is get our minds off of the monotony of exercise.
Here’s what I do now. First, I set my bike right in front of the television. Now that worked well for a while, but the commercials quickly put my mind back on the boredom. Instead, I now rent or tape a movie but not just any movie it needs to be one with lots of action. Explosions, plenty of car chases and Schwarzenegger always helps, too. The movie “Speed” is a great example. I start exercising, turn on the movie and my 39 minute session is finished before I know it. There’s nothing magical about 39 minutes, that’s just where I’ve worked up to.
Your exercise session will either seem like an eternity or go by in a snap depending on where your attention is.
And here’s the important point. When my exercise session is over, I turn the movie off and I don’t watch it again until I get back on the bike. As a result, I now have a built-in incentive to exercise again because I want to see how the movie turns out! Most movies are about 100-120 minutes long, and I get about 3 or 4 exercise sessions from each one.
This system works great for me. If you’ve been having trouble “getting motivated” to exercise address the two reasons most people don’t and you’ll dramatically increase your chances for integrating successful fitness into your lifestyle.