How many times have you been watching TV late at night or online and one of those flashy miracle fitness ads pops up? “Find the best Fat Burner to help you achieve your goals!” “Lose belly fat with this one weird old tip!” We all know they’re BS, but that ridiculous click-bait still seems to weasel its way into our heads, nagging at us to get fit. As if we needed the prodding.
Thankfully, psychologists and doctors have spent the past century figuring out mental blocks and how to beat them. All you have to do is follow their advice and you’ll be feeling fit in no time.
The benefits of exercise
Did you know your mood can noticeably change even after a 30-minute walk? Exercise delivers a roundhouse kick to the face of depression, tension and fatigue. Even a few sets of push-ups leads to a spike in energy, vigour, and blood circulation. And we don’t need to tell you why that last one will be appreciated by your partner.
I ain’t got the time!
You don’t need Joanne McLeod and Hal Johnson to help you with a body break. Try an exercise spurt like a 10-minute walk during the work day, or switch up your routine by cycling to work once a week, take a weekend hike with the kids or just park further away from the office.
Exercise is boring.
The easiest way to beat boredom is by being social. Don’t be one of those ear bud-wearing weirdos at the gym — grab a frisbee, football or bike and a few buddies and enjoy a sunny Saturday. Pro tip: Schedule times to exercise when you’re the most energetic in the day.
Gyms are too expensive.
What, a $60/month membership for an overcrowded, sweaty weight room doesn’t appeal to you? Not to worry. There’s a little something we call the Great Outdoors, and it’s free of charge. Some cities are even installing outdoor gyms in their parks, so really – money’s not an issue. Exercise is free, Comrade!
What if I hurt myself?
Pace yourself when you try new ways to get fit. And have some sympathy for yourself, your body needs time to adjust to new activities. Always warm up and cool down by walking or jogging for five minutes with any workout, especially when weight training. Don’t increase your weights more than 10% each week, either. Talk to a buddy who keeps up with fitness – ask him or a trainer about the right level of intensity for your age, skill and fitness level.
I don’t want to act the fool.
Self-confidence (or lack thereof) can keep a lot of guys away from the gym or group fitness classes. But it’s easy to turn those love handles into a powerful motivator. Rather than focus on the negative, visualize yourself with a fit body. One study showed most guys wanted to work out more when they talked about their unfit bodies. But most still wanted to work out in a no-judgment zone. If you’re worried about that cute trainer catching a glimpse of your man boobs (she’s probably not looking anyway), head to the gym in the early morning before work when it’s empty. Or try a beginner class like boxing to hang out with dudes in a similar situation. Learning with a group can be incredibly motivating. And there’s always the stairs at work for a daily boost.
For an easy start, use the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Meter and assess your mental fitness. You don’t have to change much to beat those mental blocks and start feeling good. And remember: action breeds motivation. Once you start … yeah, you know the rest.
Benefits of exercise, National Health Service (NHS) UK. Accessed May 12, 2015.
Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed May 14, 2015.
Overuse injury: How to prevent training injuries, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Accessed May 12, 2015.
Body Image as a Motivator and Barrier to Exercise Participation, International Journal of Exercise Science. Accessed May 12, 2015.
If you’re thinking about fitting easy exercise into your day, we’ve got your back.
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Daniel Palmer is a communications professional and former journalist. Born in Newfoundland and raised in British Columbia, Daniel considers himself an elastic Canadian with a West Coast bias. Nature is usually the cure for what ails him. Daniel is based in Ottawa with his wife and daughter.