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Release Date: 4/4/2014

How to fit in exercise

Dr. Anita Schnapp

Dr. Anita Schnapp

By Dr. Anita Schnapp, St. Anthony’s Medical Center

Spring is just underway and many of us have committed (again) to exercising once the weather is nice. Studies show that exercise helps us sleep better, live longer, and stave off all sorts of diseases. It’s good for our heart health, bone health, and mental health. So why is it that so many of us drag our feet when it comes to putting them in motion? Here are some of the most common excuses for putting off exercise, and what we can do to overcome those obstacles:

  • I don’t have enough time to exercise: Many of us think of exercise as something we need to “fit in” to our schedule. Instead, schedule exercise as you would a meeting or an appointment. Block out the time and call it “me time” or “stress release” or something that makes you feel good when you see it on your calendar. Exercise is energizing, so it may actually help you become more efficient and get more done.
  •  I’m not motivated: Find a work out buddy.  You will motivate each other and keep each other committed. You could also share your goal with others, and encourage them to ask you how your workouts are going.
  • My family is my priority: Then, exercise as a family. Go on bike rides or walk the dog together. Get into a water balloon fight or chase the kids around the playground. You can also incorporate household chores into heart-healthy games. Have them run up steps to put the laundry away, or crank up the iPod and dance! Also, remember that your commitment to good health will be a positive example to your children.
  • I want to relax and watch TV when I get home: Find someplace on your way home to work out. That way, once you are home, you can just relax. Exercise during the commercial breaks. Do push-ups, sit-ups or squats. You can also use TV as a reward, promising yourself your favorite show if you complete your workout.
  •  I start out committed to a program, then I seem to lose steam:  Make a commitment for 3-4 times a week for a month, and really stick to it.  By then, you should start seeing results, which should be a motivator.  Make sure you choose an activity you like, as you are more likely to stick with something you enjoy than something that feels like a chore.
  • I can’t afford a gym:   You don’t need a gym, just a good pair of shoes. Walking (indoor or out, depending on weather) is one of the best exercises around.   Inexpensive workout DVDs are available at many stores or even to check out at the public library. 

Exercise is one of the best preventative medicines we can give ourselves. Just 30 minutes a day can lead to a longer, healthier, happier life!

Dr. Anita Schnapp is a St. Anthony’s obstetrician/gynecologist.

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