Everyone can agree that regular exercise is important, so why do so many people struggle to stick with their fitness goals?
If you've encountered barriers holding you back from committing to a fitness routine, you're not alone. The health experts at the Mayo Clinic offer simple ideas for overcoming the five most common hurdles to fitness commitment. For more ideas visit healthcheckup.mayoclinic.org.
Challenge 1: I don't have enough time to exercise.
Setting aside time to exercise can be a challenge, so it's important to use a little creativity to get the most out of your time.
Squeeze in short walks: If you don't have time for a full workout, don't sweat it. Shorter spurts of exercise, such as 10 minutes of walking spaced throughout the day, offers benefits too.
Get up early: If your days are packed and the evening hours are hectic, get up 30 minutes earlier twice a week to exercise.
Drive less, walk more: Park in the back row of the parking lot or even a few blocks away and walk to your destination.
Revamp your rituals: Your weekly Saturday matinee with the kids could be reborn as your weekly bike ride, rock-climbing lesson or trip to the pool.
Challenge 2: I think exercise is boring.
It's natural to grow weary of a repetitive workout day after day, especially when you're going it alone. But exercise doesn't have to be boring.
Choose fun activities: You'll be more likely to stay interested. Remember, anything that gets you moving counts.
Vary the routine: Rotate among several activities - such as walking, swimming and cycling - to keep you on your toes while conditioning different muscle groups.
Join forces: Exercise with friends, relatives, neighbors or co-workers. You'll enjoy the camaraderie and the encouragement of the group.
Explore new options: Learn new skills while working out. Check out exercise classes or sports leagues at a recreation center or health club.
Challenge 3: I'm self-conscious about how I look.
Fitness isn't just about what you look like on the outside, it's the inside as well. Remind yourself what a great favor you're doing for your cardiovascular health, or focus on how much stronger you feel after a workout.
Avoid the crowd: If you're uncomfortable exercising around others, go solo at first. Try an exercise video or an activity-oriented video game.
Make an investment: Consider investing in home exercise equipment like a stationary bicycle, treadmill or a stair-climbing machine that you can use at home on your own time.
Focus on the future: Praise yourself for making a commitment to your health. Remember that as you become fitter and more comfortable exercising, your self-confidence is likely to improve as well.
Challenge 4: I'm too tired to exercise.
No energy to exercise? Without exercise, you'll have no energy. It's a vicious cycle. But breaking the cycle with physical activity is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
Try a morning workout: Hop on the treadmill or stationary bicycle while you listen to the radio or watch the morning news.
Make lunchtime count: Keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk and take a brisk walk during your lunch break.
Be prepared: Make sure you have comfortable shoes and loose-fitting clothes for exercising readily available at home and in your car.
Challenge 5: I can't afford health club fees.
You don't need a membership at an elite gym to get a great workout. Consider easy and free alternatives.
Do strengthening exercises at home: Use inexpensive resistance bands - lengths of elastic tubing that come in varying strengths - in place of weights. Do pushups or squats using your body weight.
Start a walking group: Round up friends, neighbors or coworkers for regular group walks. Plan routes through the neighborhood, along local parks and trails, or in a nearby shopping mall.
Take the stairs: Skip the elevator when you can and climb the stairs.
Try your community center: Exercise classes offered through a local recreation department or community education are often more budget-friendly than an annual gym membership.
Visit healthcheckup.mayoclinic.org to learn more today.