Health Agenda

Physical Health

Struggling to stay fit? We’ve got solutions for common exercise excuses

Accredited exercise physiologist Caitlin Reid breaks down your work out barriers.

Life isn’t always smooth sailing and sticking to an exercise routine can be difficult. But the good news is that for many barriers to exercise, there’s a simple solution to help you stay active – and an expensive gym membership isn’t needed.

Exercise dilemma 1: You’re time poor

Juggling everything from working full-time to looking after elderly parents can leave minimal time for exercise. But you’ll be able to give more to others if you look after yourself and squeeze in whatever physical activity you can.

A report for the Australian Department of Health concluded that just 1–2 hours a week of low-intensity activity can have positive health and wellbeing outcomes. And research from the University of Georgia found that as little as 20 minutes of low to moderate exercise 3 times a week can boost energy levels and lower feelings of fatigue. Finding just 60 minutes each week may be more manageable and less intimidating for most of us.

Workout solution: Be organised and work out when you can. Go online for workout ideas that are short and sharp. High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by low-intensity recovery periods, is a time-efficient way to work out. These workouts don’t usually include any equipment so they’re easy to do anywhere. It’s perfect for when time isn’t on your side.

It may also help to block out time to work out. Make a rule with yourself that under no circumstances (apart from an emergency or essential task) will anything compromise this time.

Exercise dilemma 2: You hate the gym

You’ve tried every fitness class your gym offers and even been put through your paces by the gym’s best personal trainer. Now you find exercise a chore. If this is you, it could be time to ditch your gym membership and find another way to keep fit.

Workout solution: It’s possible to do a good workout without the gym; there are so many other fantastic ways to stay fit. Try signing up to your local running club or joining a sporting team like netball, touch football or tennis. A group training session is another popular option. The key is finding an activity you enjoy.

Exercise dilemma 3: You have kids

They’re (hopefully) your pride and joy, but they do tend to leave you time poor. Little kids require constant supervision, while sickness, sporting commitments and social lives of teens can play havoc with a regular exercise routine.

Workout solution: If your kids are still napping, try to work out at home while they sleep. If they’re older, go for a run or bike ride during their after school activities. You can always keep fit together, of course, with family bike rides, games of tennis and regular trips to the beach or park.

There’s also a range of group fitness classes aimed at mums with kids that either include childcare or you can bring your children along. An online search should show you some local options.
Finding a parent in the same situation as you could also help – either you can motivate each other to exercise together, going on walks with the kids, or one of you can child-mind while the other gets a chance to have some fitness time alone, then you switch.

Exercise dilemma 4: You travel for work

If you find yourself spending more nights in a hotel than your own bed, it’s hard to get into a fitness routine. And not all hotels have gyms, meaning that even with the best of intentions, it can seem a whole lot easier to spend any free time relaxing instead.

Workout solution: Gone are the days when you have to rely on the hotel gym and pool to meet your fitness needs – thanks to modern technology, you now have a range of fitness options at your fingertips.

There are plenty of great workout apps to download. For equipment-free workouts, try Nike+ Training Club or Sworkit. MapMyRun is a great app for not only tracking workouts but also offering a member-sourced route archive that you can use to find nearby runs. BioConnected wireless earphones provide fitness tracking and in-ear coaching (HCF members can save $40 on the retail price). The MINDBODY app is great for locating and booking nearby fitness classes.

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