Why regular exercise is so hard
Do you know that feeling? The one you get just before a scheduled exercise session? All of a sudden you don’t feel like it. Even though you know it would be so good for you.
Somehow you can come up with 101 reasons why you simply can’t: Too busy, the kids need you, there’s work to do, you’ve got your period and just don’t feel like it. The list goes on.
Here’s the good news: It’s normal to feel reluctant to exercise and come up with excuses. It’s natural. We didn’t evolve to spend as many calories as possible during an artificially created activity called ‘exercise’.
Yes, we are born to move but only when necessary
Hunter-gatherers don’t go for a jog because it’s fun or good for our bodies. Quite the opposite. When food isn’t around in abundance it’s not wise to waste calories.
Hunter-gatherers also don’t hunt and gather all day. A lot of them are done in 2 – 2 ½ hours a day. But they do it every day and they do it into old age, too. For a lot of their day they sit. Just like us. Admittedly though, not on furniture and also not without moving and getting up in between.
Our modern-day problem is that physical activity is not a necessary part of our day anymore. You can work from home, shop from home and thanks to modern technology even socialise from home.
Lockdown hasn’t exactly helped with getting us more active.
We are primed to conserve energy where possible and that’s why getting ourselves motivated to exercise can be so hard. Unfortunately, we haven’t adapted for this modern-day of convenience.
To stay healthy we had to invent ‘exercise’. And yes, most of us feel the same about it. There’s always a good reason not to do it. Even though we know how important exercise is for our health and wellbeing. Knowing this is not enough to make us move. Exercise goes against our instinct, after all.
The good news is there are ways to overcome our laziness. We can trick ourselves into regular exercise.
1. Don’t feel bad about resisting exercise.
It’s normal! Recognise that dreaded feeling as a normal part of modern life. It’s much easier not to listen to that feeling if you know where it’s coming from.
2. Don’t do it for the health benefits. Focus on the fun instead.
Most of us enjoy exercising the most when it’s social. Many of my clients have told me that boot camp is the only exercise they have ever stuck with. And whilst I’d like to think it’s because of me I know that the reason people keep coming back is that boot camp is social and fun.
If a structured exercise class is not for you there are other ways to make it fun. Find a running partner or even commit to exercising together online. Make it a social event.
Sometimes the only way I can bring myself to do a workout is by listening to my favourite podcast. I love listening to it and that’s what makes me lift those weights.
3. Focus on how it makes you feel
The hardest thing is getting started. You always feel better afterwards. Nobody ever regrets a workout. Focus on the way exercise makes you feel. Tune into that happy feeling you get after a good workout. Your brain will want to get that feeling again and might resist a little less next time!
4. Make it essential
Children have to exercise at school. Hunter-gatherers have to move their bodies to survive. Athletes have to show up to their training or they get kicked off the team.
What can you do to make exercise necessary?
One of the reasons I train every Thursday evening is that I do it together with my daughter. I want to be a good role model, I have committed to it and I don’t want to let her down. Yes, sometimes I’d rather stay at home reading a good book but I never do.
5. Reframe it
Running is not my favourite exercise. I’m not particularly good at it and I NEVER feel like ‘Yes, let’s go for a run!’
But I like to keep it ticking over and it’s sooo convenient and time-efficient. To help me get out the door I have reframed running as ‘me-time’. It’s a great excuse to get out of the house.
And guess what, I feel a lot less resistant to me-time than I do to running!
6. Keep it simple
Don’t overthink it, don’t go too big. To see health benefits even a little exercise goes a long way. Find something you enjoy and start moving.
Here’s an example:
Every Thursday night without fail I do a boxing workout with my daughter. Why do we never miss it?
- We accept sometimes we don’t feel like it but that’s normal.
- We don’t box for the health benefits. It’s really good fun.
- We know we ALWAYS feel great afterwards. We feel successful, happy, strong and emotionally balanced.
- I have committed to it. I want to be a good role model and I don’t want to let my daughter down. Sometimes I’d rather curl up and read a book but I never do.
- When I don’t feel like working out and remind myself that it’s social time with my teenager. And I don’t get a lot of that. I’d be daft not to make the most of it.
- We have a coach who tells us what to do. It’s simple.
Until next time. Stay fit, happy and healthy,
P.S. Want to learn more about creating healthy habits? Check out Healthy Habits Made Easy