'I'd go for a run but'... excuses not to exercise overcome

A pair of running shoes hanging from a hook

‘I don’t have the time’

Split it up
Finding large chunks of exercise ‘me-time’ can be difficult – but the good news is that there’s no need to slog it out for an hour at a time. One study from the John Hopkins School of Medicine found women who exercised in three 10-minute slots throughout the day lost more weight than those who exercised in 40-minute chunks. ‘When you have a spare 15 minutes, alternate upper and lower body exercises; do 20 sit-ups, squats, push-ups and lunges – but don’t rest in between as this slows your heart rate, and the rate at which you burn calories,’ advises trainer Matt Roberts.

Be an early bird
Sometimes it’s not a matter of lacking time – it’s finding the right time. Scheduling evening exercise can be problematic, as you might be working late, have an event or be just too tired. So why not consider working out in the morning? You’ll not only be 90 per cent more likely to stick with it, but you’ll also burn up to three times more fat, say the researchers at www.healthguidance.org. The science behind it is that your body burns off carbohydrates while you sleep and so has to tap into fat reserves for energy the next morning. Plus you’ll be bursting with endorphins all day.

Face facts
The truth is that most of us do have time – it’s simply a matter of making getting fit a priority. Experts believe exercise should comprise 5 per cent of our waking hours – or in other words, 42 minutes out of 14 hours. Start looking for ways to incorporate incidental exercise – taking the stairs, not the lift; getting off the tube one stop early; ensuring you take a walk at lunchtime – and you’ll be surprised by how quickly the minutes add up.

‘I’m too tired and lack motivation’

Play it
Make a playlist of your favourite music to motivate you. It sounds simple but there’s a science to it. Music is proven to increase psychological arousal and can reverse the chemicals in your brain that cause tiredness. Not only that but it increases serotonin (the happiness hormone) while also helping coordination.

Partner up
Exercising with a friend is more fun and it will double your chances of sticking with your workout, too. ‘It’s proven that group exercise is a better motivator as it produces more endorphins than exercising on your own. Plus you’ll feel bad about letting a friend down, so you’re likely to stick to your exercise plan. Why not start tennis? That way if one of you drops out, neither can play, so you’re both likely to keep up your end of the deal.’

Write it down
It’s one thing wanting to exercise, but studies show that writing down your goals will make you 10 per cent more likely to achieve them. Personal trainer Robert Bray suggests keeping an exercise journal, and noting down precise goals and deadlines (such as an upcoming occasion or holiday). But be sensible; losing 1-2lbs a week is realistic; but 4lbs a week? Not so much.

Take it easy
If the thought of dragging your weary body away from the TV is too much, then don’t. Try exercising in front of the telly. Bray suggests lying on your back and doing abdominal crunches, the ‘plank’ and ‘leg raises’ to work your abdominal muscles. Do these for 15 minutes, three times a week and you’ll burn 600 calories – the equivalent of two Cadbury’s chocolate bars.

‘I can’t afford it’

Skip the gym
Think gym fees are an excuse not to work out? Nice try. Buy a cheap skipping rope and do five blocks of three minutes skipping in front of the TV to work every muscle in the body and burn up to 600 calories an hour. Or try power walking. ‘If you kept your diet exactly the same but power walked every day for up to an hour, after a year you’d lose a stone of fat,’ says personal trainer Mark Anthony.

Get Google fit
There are plenty of online workouts available – and many are free. Try www.netfit.co.uk for tips, nutrition advice and fitness videos, or www.virtualgym.tv for a month’s free trial for just £1. Groupon.com (www.groupon.com) for tips, nutrition advice and fitness videos, or www.virtualgym.tv also offers a guide to discounted fitness classes around the UK, and if you fancy a personal trainer (without the celebrity-sized price tag), download the Couch to 10k iPhone app , which will provide a 13-week running training programme.

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