If you have spent your adult life as a couch potato, becoming more active will take at least 6 months. You’ve set goals and made resolutions, but you will surely encounter roadblocks on your path to fitness. Here are some tips and strategies for overcoming common exercise problems.
If you find exercise boring, you’ve chosen the wrong kind. Activity is recreation, time off from the cares of the day. It should not be just another one of the things you have to do before you can enjoy yourself. It should be enjoyable in and of itself.
If it has started to feel like the “same old same old,” it’s time for a change. If you’ve done your homework, your weight-loss notebook should have a list of the things you like to do. Retire some of your choices and make some new ones.
If there’s nothing tempting on your list, take another look at the exercise options in Chapter Exercise Options. Check one of the many online sources that list activities and their calorie burns. Dial up the websites of particular sports and activities – from archery to yoga. Look into classes at your local Y or community center. Choose activities that will get you moving in a way that’s fun.
- Enlist a friend to do it with you. That way you can combine socializing with exercising. Good conversation while you walk, run, skate, or bike will distract you from what feels like work. Making an unbreakable date will ensure that you really do it.
- Join a team. It’s a great way to meet new people or spend time with folks you already know. A parent-child team adds quality time as well as providing an active role model for the next generation.
- If you are exercising alone, do it with music. A portable radio or tape/CD player is a lightweight exercise companion. If you choose upbeat music, it will help you maintain a lively tempo.
- Do it in an interesting place. From mall walking to mountain climbing, there’s an environment that will strike your fancy. Try to combine your activity with something that interests you or engages a part of your mind other than the one that’s counting reps.
Add variety to whatever exercise you do.
Day after day of leg lifts will certainly be boring. Try to do something different every day and add something new at least once a month. This will keep you challenged in both body and mind.
Check your attitude If you have kids or were one yourself, you know that the complaint, “It’s boring” usually translates into “I don’t wanna do it!” Is that what’s going on with you?
If so, you may need to revisit or revise what’s motivating you. Visit this website https://www.getphenq.com and look at your motivators. Reminding yourself why you are doing this may be all it takes. Maybe you need to add some n
Call on the friends of your diet and tell them you’re feeling stale. Ask them to give you a pep talk or make some suggestions. Ask them what they’re doing this weekend, and if it’s something active, invite yourself to go along.
It’s too hard
If exercising more is making you tired or sore, you may be overdoing it. That’s not a reason to quit. Instead, take a step backward.
- Do fewer reps or fewer sets of whatever it is you are doing. If you are using weights, drop down by a pound or two. Then gradually work your way up. Add sets until it feels easy, and only then begin adding pounds.
- If your activity involves speed, do it more slowly. Stay at that speed for at least a week, or longer if you still feel challenged.
- If you’re in a class that’s more advanced than you are, look for one on more of a beginner’s level. Or skip some moves. March or run in place while the rest of the class is doing triple-time reverse arabesques. (Don’t worry, they’re too busy to notice what you’re doing.) Whatever you do, don’t stop cold.
- Take time off between exercise sessions. Do something else that uses different muscle groups or different parts of your body. Give yourself time to recover.
- Check your equipment. Do your shoes absorb shocks and give you enough support? Are weight machines well lubricated and in good repair? Is your stationary bike, treadmill, stairclimber adjusted properly? You may be working harder than you should if you’re fighting your equipment.
- Are you getting enough rest? Are you drinking enough water? Are you exercising on an empty stomach? If an exercise session leaves you drained instead of energized, the “equipment” that needs adjustment may be you.
Finding an exercise that suits you Give yourself the option to try something different. I am in awe of people who can live through a step class, but I know I am not one of them. My feet get tangled and I go left when everyone else goes right. I trip over the steps and find myself exhausted and confused. I have tried it for a while, but I know that, for me, it’s just too hard. Fortunately, my gym offers a variety of classes throughout the day. I’ve found enough that are fun and at my level to keep me going there 3 days a week. Someday I may give stepping another try. Probably after I’ve mastered ocean kayaking and Himalayan trekking.
It takes too much time
Really? We’re talking about a half hour of activity each day. I bet you can waste that much time just sitting around. If you really don’t think you have a half hour to spare, see if you can trade it for something else less valuable.
Simply find an alternative Observe yourself for one day. Write down everything you do, whether it is a task, a chore, or down time. Was it all useful and productive? I doubt it. Now pick one of the nonproductive things and trade it for some exercise.
- If your chosen activities cannot be done in a half hour, try to break them into smaller pieces. Stretching for 15 minutes in the morning and taking a 15minute walk at lunchtime adds up to the same half hour as a single bike ride.
- Combine your exercise with other activities. Remember the exercise extras? Five minutes here and 10 minutes there will quickly add up to 30. Do some gardening, walk the dog or mow the lawn. You had to do those anyway, didn’t you?
- If you have a baby or toddler, see if there’s a mothers’ exercise group you can join. Where I live, mothers meet in the park and do exercises while their children play. The neighborhood is full of parents pushing jogging strollers at aerobic speed.
- Volunteer in your community for something that will keep you on the move instead of on the phone. Do door-to-door canvassing. Work at the local recycling center lifting bales of newspapers and dragging trash. Become a playground monitor or school-crossing guard or run errands (on foot).
- If you’re in the office all day, do stretches at your desk. Instead of phoning, walk down the hall to see a coworker. Take your coffee break outdoors and then walk back up the stairs.
Whoever first said, “No pain, no gain,” has a lot to answer for. Safe and health exercise should not hurt.
Guard against getting hurt while exercising by:
- Wearing the right shoes
- Warming up, cooling down, and stretching as part of every exercise session
- Choosing exercise suited to your level of fitness and ability
- Gradually increasing weight, intensity, and speed
- Starting at a lower level if you’ve taken time off from your routine
- Varying your routine to give your muscles a chance to recover
- Paying attention to your THR and never exercising at your MHR.
- Exercising in a safe place with equipment that is in good repair
- Using good form and correct technique
- Listening to your body and stopping if something doesn’t feel right
- Breathing properly: Exhale on the effort
- Drinking water to replace fluid lost through sweat
- Protecting yourself from the sun and other extremes of weather when you exercise outdoors
- Wearing protective gear as needed by the activity you choose
If you wake up the morning after feeling stiff and sore, it’s a sure sign that there was something wrong with your routine the day before. Your muscles are telling you it was too fast, too heavy, too many, too far. A warm shower and some gentle stretches may help you work through the discomfort. Take a day off and do something entirely different the next day.
More serious injury If you experience sharp pain or hear a “crack” or “pop” while lifting, pushing, pulling, or bending, stop immediately. Put an icepack on the injured area as soon as possible and seek some medical help. Pain, swelling, tenderness, and a feeling of heat at the site of the injury are signs that this is more than “too much too soon.” The most common activity-related injuries are strains and sprains. They may sound the same, but a strain is a muscle injury and a sprain is an injury affecting joints and connective tissue.
If you become injured while exercising, do not try to diagnose the problem yourself Do not ask a friend or someone at your gym.
There’s enough myth and misinformation about sports injuries to fill a fat book. This is no time for amateur hour. Instead, call a medical professional. Describe the problem and the circumstances. You may be advised to come in to be examined or even to go to a hospital emergency room. Or you may be told it’s safe to wait two or three days to see if the pain and swelling subside. In the meantime, you will do yourself no further harm, and may even help, by giving yourself the RICE treatment: rest, ice, compression, elevation.
- Rest the injured part of your body. Stop what you’re doing and do not resume activity until the condition has resolved.
- Apply ice or a chilled gel-pack to the injured part. Cover the icebag or pack with a washcloth or towel so it does not contact your skin directly. Leave it on for no more than 10 minutes at a time, then take it off for 10 minutes, and keep repeating the cycle. This will prevent you from giving yourself frostbite.
- If possible, wrap the injured part in an elastic compression bandage to give it support and help reduce swelling. You may wish to continue wearing the bandage or an elasticized brace for a while to protect the injured part.
- Elevate the injured part with a pillow or a stack of books.
In addition, you may get relief from an antiinflammatory pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen, which will also help reduce swelling.
Check your technique As soon as you are feeling better, get advice from a trainer, instructor, or other knowledgeable person to avoid injury again. It may be a matter of using lighter weights, or bending your knees, or changing your technique slightly.
Have the trainer watch you for a while and talk you through the activity you are doing.
Review your warm-up, cool-down, and stretching techniques. If you are in a class that does not allow for enough of this, schedule some time on your own before and after the class. This may be a good time to have a lesson or to do a session or two with a personal trainer.
I’ve been sick
Do you really have to stop exercising if you’re feeling under the weather? It depends on two factors: how sick you are and what activity you are doing.
If you have a cold, seasonal allergies, or menstrual cramps, don’t these serve as an excuse. Exercise won’t make these conditions worse, and in some cases, they might even make them better.
Exercise stimulates the release of adrenaline, the hormone also known as epinephrine. Among its useful roles, this hormone is a natural decongestant.
Unlike the kind that comes in pill form, adrenaline does not make you feel jittery. It makes you feel supercharged. And the nice thing about endogenous epinephrine is that the dose is adjusted by your own body. It’s like a custom-made time release capsule: You move your muscles and get your heart pumping, and just the right amount of the “drug” is released into your bloodstream.
Menstrual cramps may also be relieved by exercise. Increased blood flow to the muscles can lessen cramps. Exercise also stimulates endorphins, the natural painkillers that have an affinity for the same brain receptors as opium.
All in all, it sounds like exercise is the best medicine for minor physical ills. You may want to lower the intensity of your workout and pay closer attention to how you are feeling, but there’s really no reason to stop.
If you have flu symptoms – fever, headache, body aches or if you are vomiting, have diarrhea, or have severe chest congestion with a bad cough, it makes sense to stop exercising until these symptoms pass.
It’s simply too expensive
For every $1,000 -a-year-health-club, there is a $19.95-a-month gym. For every $100-a-round greens fee, there is a community softball program. If signing up for a semesters worth of classes costs a lump sum you can’t manage, find a pay-as-you-go alternative. Don’t let the price get in the way of the prize. Many activities require little or no special equipment, club membership, or lessons.
- Try jumping rope, dancing in your living room, sparring with a partner, flying a kite.
- You can ride a bike that has fewer than 20 speeds and doesn’t boast a titanium frame; there’s probably a rusty old one in your garage that needs no more than some oil and a new seat.
- Can’t afford a stairclimber? Just find some stairs and climb them instead.
- Running is free, and so is playing tag with your children in the backyard.
- Exercise videos are inexpensive, and you can swap them with friends, or tape a series from a cable exercise program.
- Personal trainers may be an extravagance, but there are dozens of web sites that offer personalized programs with a few clicks of the mouse.
The perfect gift If money really is an issue, make it a wish or a special gift you give yourself. Instead of a new outfit or a restaurant meal, ask for a few classes, a new pair of running shoes, or membership at the Y. Make it a reward for losing 10 pounds or a graduation present when you reach one of your milestones.
Make the investment worth it. Sometimes spending money works as a motivator. If the price of membership is what keeps you going to the gym, it’s money well spent. If you’ll really use those inline skates now that you’ve invested in a new set of wheels and safety equipment, you’re on a roll.
Whatever it costs you, regular exercise is worth it.
You may well save money in the long run by avoiding the cost of medical care and time off from work for weight-related illnesses. Being active is a matter of health, not wealth.
I’ll be away from home
One of the lamest excuses for dropping an exercise program is being on the road. Whether work or vacation takes you away from your local gym or exercise class or simply makes you change your routine, that’s no reason to break your stride.
Business trips If you use being away on business as an excuse for shelving your daily exercise routine, I’ve got news for you. There isn’t a hotel, motel, or conference center in this country, and probably not anywhere else in the world, that doesn’t have a health club or at least a swimming pool available for guests. In all likelihood, you’ll be able to continue your routine, possibly even in surroundings far more sophisiticated than the ones you have at home.
Many gyms and exercise dubs are part of national chains or federations that give visiting privileges to members from out of town.
If you belong to a club, check out whether there is one where you’re visiting before you hit the road. You may have a home away from home without even knowing it.
If for some reason that is not practical or possible, there will be a television in your room. Instead of watching the pay-per-view movie while lying on the bed and munching from the minibar, find a televised exercise class and join in.
Whatever you do, never leave for a business trip without packing a swimsuit, a workout outfit, and a comfortable pair of sneakers or running shoes.
If you think the facilities will be limited, bring along an exercise video in case there’s a VCR, or a jump rope and a pair of weights. Being unequipped is not an excuse; it’s just poor planning.
Vacations You have a lot more control over where you go and what you do when you’re on the road for vacation. Plan a holiday that’s action packed. That need not limit you to skiing in the Alps and scuba diving in the Caribbean. Consider the following:
- Do you want to go on a cruise? You’ll find onboard pools, gyms, and exercise classes, not to mention dancing long into the night.
- Are you touring a foreign land? Walking is a major activity for tourists, from Australia to Zanzibar. You can walk in cities and in the countryside, visiting museums, antiquities, or natural attractions. Do as the natives do, whether it’s strolling in a park or dancing in a public square. There are many biking and walking tours, geared to all interests, ages, and levels of skill. Think about signing up for one.
- Will you spend a week at a beach resort? Instead of lying on a blanket, pack paddles and balls, a Frisbee, a kite, and any other items that will keep you vertical and moving around.
- Driving across country with family? Choose overnight stops with swimming pools and do some laps to work out the kinks. Stop frequently to stretch your legs, climb a hill to get a good view, walk around a historic site, or climb a historic monument. Think about national parks and other outdoor attractions. Explore the towns where you stop. Find the local golf course, bowling alley, or dance hall.
- Visiting relatives? Let them know you want some action. They may be able to get guest passes at a local gym, sign you up for lessons or classes, find out about running or other sports events in the area. Unless you let your hosts know you’re in an active frame of mind, you’ll end up sitting around.
You may not be able to follow your usual routine while you’re away from home, but there’s plenty you can do to ensure that you return from your holidays looking fitter, not fatter.