1. Don’t have the time to exercise. Research documents the fact that exercising does not have to be time-consuming to be beneficial. For example, engaging in physical activity for as little as 15 minutes a day (either on a continuous, nonstop basis or cumulatively in several increments) can help you be heart healthy.
2. Don’t know how to exercise. Truth be known, exercising is not a particularly complex undertaking. The basic key is to just get moving. Walk, run, swim, join a group-exercise class. . . whatever rings your motivational bell. If you want sound advice and guidance on your exercise efforts from an expert, you should consult a health/fitness professional who has been certified by a credible professional organization (e.g., ACSM, ACE, NSCA).
3. Exercise is too inconvenient. No muss, no fuss, no way. In contrast to the expectations of those individuals who feel that life’s rewards should be handed to them in a neatly packaged, effortless way, most things worth having are worth making some sacrifice (e.g., time, money, energy) to obtain. The health benefits associated with exercising on a regular basis are no exception.
4. Not fit enough to exercise. Simply stated, you don’t have to be fit to get fit. Regardless of how physically fit you are at any given point in your life, you are never so out of shape that you can’t or shouldn’t exercise. You may not be a viable candidate for running a marathon, but you can engage in physical activity at a safe exercise intensity level that is appropriate for your level of fitness.
5. Exercise can be painful or even dangerous. Exercise will not harm you. While you may experience some degree of discomfort (as opposed to pain), such a feeling is your body’s simple way of letting you know that there is a price to pay for certain actions, for example, doing too much exercise too quickly. In fact, the risk of injuring yourself while engaging in sound exercise is very low. The danger of dying while exercising is extremely rare.
6. Get enough exercise at work. Unfortunately, too many people equate being fatigued after work with having a similar effect on their body as exercising. Not true. Your work may be physically taxing, but it is not exercise.
7. Exercise is too expensive. You don’t need to spend much money to exercise. Other than buying a good pair of shoes, your wallet does not have to withstand an assault to pay for your exercise regimen. Furthermore, relatively speaking, exercising is a lot less costly than the array of potential downsides to a sedentary lifestyle (e.g., higher healthcare costs, lower levels of productivity, etc.).
8. Exercise is too physically demanding. Certainly, exercising entails a greater physical challenge than the vast array of sitting-on-your-heinie tasks associated with a nonphysical activity lifestyle. On the other hand, exercise need not be unduly tough or hard. The key is to engage in an exercise regimen that is appropriate for your level of fitness. All too often, the real challenge you face is to conjure up enough energy to get up off the couch and get moving.
9. Too old to start exercising. The innumerable benefits of exercising on a regular basis are within the reach of individuals of virtually all ages. In reality, you’re never too old to begin exercising. Depending upon your age (men over 45; women over 55), you may need to see your physician prior to engaging in a vigorous exercise program.
10. Don’t believe in exercise. A healthy dose of skepticism about the existence of some things (e.g., the Loch Ness monster, the Easter bunny, an honest politician, etc.) is appropriate. The value of exercise, however, should not be one of them. The benefits of exercise are extensive and well documented. If for any reason you question the merits of exercise, you need to invigorate your life with a 3-G’s strategy - get real, get up, and get moving.
James A. Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM, is a freelance writer and consultant in sports medicine. From 1990 until 1995, Dr. Peterson was director of sports medicine with StairMaster. Until that time, he was professor of physical education at the United States Military Academy.
Copyright 2010 by the American College of Sports Medicine.