Think you have a good excuse for not exercising? Think again. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two-thirds of Americans do not meet the standard exercise guidelines of about 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise.
Think you have a good excuse for not exercising? Think again. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two-thirds of Americans do not meet the standard exercise guidelines of about 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise. A common excuse is the lack of time to exercise. But is this true? The American Time Use Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, measures the amount of time people spend doing various activities such as paid work, childcare, volunteering and socializing. During a 20-minute telephone survey, tens of thousands of people ages 15 and older answer questions about how they spent their time during the preceding 24 hours.
Defining leisure time as activities that are not required or compulsory, such as time spent exercising, socializing, watching TV or traveling, researchers from the RAND Corporation analyzed responses from more than 32,000 ATUS participants. To their surprise, Americans have quite a bit of leisure time on our hands, and we aren’t using it to exercise.
In fact, nearly half of survey participants reported around five hours a day of leisure time. But physical activity was highly uncommon during downtime with the majority of people preferring to activate their phones, computers or televisions, rather than their bodies.
Other findings indicate that men have a bit more free time than women; older people have more leisure time than younger people.
So you probably do have time to exercise, but there are always many other excuses. Following are some common excuses for avoiding exercise. I’m on my feet all day so I don’t need to exercise.
Being active all day is good for your health, but it is not really exercise. You need to get your heart rate up and sweat a little to make it count. Exercise takes too long. Recent guidelines show that exercise can be done in short bursts spread throughout the day.
It does need to be vigorous enough to make you a bit out of breath, but even a few minutes at a time can add up. Think of climbing stairs, walking up a hill or doing some vigorous house cleaning. I’m too old to exercise. Strength, power and muscle mass can be increased even at advanced ages. Plus, exercise helps improve balance and prevent falls. I have a chronic condition and need to avoid exercise. Being more active actually benefits many chronic conditions, including heart disease and pulmonary disease. Be as active as your condition allows but still aim for the recommended 150 minutes per week. As always, consult a physician before beginning an exercise program. I’m too tired to exercise. You just might feel better if you go ahead and power through some exercises even if you are tired. Exercise increases blood flow, oxygen levels and releases endorphins that give you more energy.
I can’t afford a gym membership. Walking is free. Doing squats in your living room is free. There are also lots of free exercise videos available online if you need direction. I hate to exercise/ it’s boring. Try different activities. No one says you have to spend 30 minutes on a treadmill. Maybe you like to dance or swim or would like to play basketball. Try a group class, join a league or enlist a friend to exercise with you. Find a distraction from the exercise such as TV, music or podcast.
I don’t get a break from the kids. This one can be hard but there are workarounds. Take the kids with you to exercise, if possible. Join them in their play — ride bikes together or play yard games. Walk while watching their sports games or practices. Do an exercise video with the kids or do it after they go to bed or before they wake up. I’m not overweight so I don’t need to exercise. Just being thin doesn’t mean you are healthy. Exercise benefits all body types.
I’m too fat/ exercise is uncomfortable or even painful. Start gradually with an exercise that doesn’t involve a lot of pounding. Exercising in water is easier on your joints. Biking or just walking might be good options. Even some chair stretches and exercises can be beneficial.
It’s never too late to start exercising! Squeezing in a little time for exercise every day will soon become a habit that may be the best thing you can do for your health.
Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the Cardiopulmonary Rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.