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CindySays: Why do so many avoid exercise?

By Cindy Boggs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- We all agree that being physically active provides us with a multitude of health benefits to improve our quality of life. So it's odd that so many people are physically inactive throughout their life. It raises the question -- why?

Generally, we can divide nonexercisers into two groups: those who have never participated in activity on a regular basis; and those who were once active but have abandoned activity along the way.

I don't like to exercise

The first group has made their mind up that they will never be one of those people who goes to a gym or makes activity a life priority. After all, they've tried exercise but nothing has made them want to keep it up.

Also, they feel overwhelmed by day-to-day obligations. In addition to full-time jobs, they must find time and energy for household duties, transporting children, caring for aging parents, home maintenance, car repairs, pets, shopping, yard work, cooking -- and the list goes on. They consider these things more important than taking a walk or keeping their muscles strong.

I was once active

This is a large and ever-growing group. They may have been quite active or perhaps an athlete at a younger age, but their bodies no longer tolerate the same type of activity. Instead of trying something new or less strenuous, they opt out. They might have joint issues and pain in their backs, feet, knees or shoulders from osteoarthritis. Exercise doesn't feel good and, in fact, it hurts so this seems like the only decision they can make.

Obstacles

There are numerous barriers that prevent people from committing to an active life. Confusion, intimidation, boredom, pain and monetary considerations are just a few. Finding ways to overcome or at least sidestep these obstacles is important if an active life is preferred rather than a sedentary one.

Break through the barriers

Confused or intimidated about how to exercise? Stick to basic fitness principles for a fast track to a fitter, leaner body. Don't expect to shortcut your way to better health. Slow and steady wins the race.

Are you bored when you work out? Choosing activities that fit your personality is your key to the kind of movement you'll love. If exercise is fun, you'll have little trouble finding time for it.

Does exercise leave your body hurting or injured? Take it easy. Activity doesn't have to be lung-busting to achieve results. The reason most people stop exercising is that they overdo it and try to progress too quickly. Avoid the terrible too's -- too much, too hard, too soon -- and watch your body build up instead of break down.

Change your mind set

There are distinct differences in how exercise is perceived by exercisers versus nonexercisers. Which one are you?

Nonexerciser: Sees physical activity as a chore and something that steals precious time from her day.

Exerciser: Views her workouts as a necessity and something that will enhance the quality of her day.

Nonexerciser: Feels exercise will make her tired.

Exerciser: Knows exercise is her energy source.

Nonexerciser: Compares herself to the most fit person and feels defeated.

Exerciser: Turns her thoughts inward and competes with no one but herself.

We all face roadblocks as we move throughout our life. Many of these are temporary and quite easy to get around. In fact, most barriers we struggle with have actually been created by us. We simply need to adjust, commit and move forward.

Cindy Boggs, wellness presenter and author, is an ACE-certified instructor/trainer. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to cindysays@aol.com. Look for her award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World" on her website, www.cindysays.com.


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