Contributor: Kathryn Gentile, ACSM-CEP, EIM level II, CPT, CSN, DCES
“I hate exercise.” When I hear these three words (which is often), I ask many follow-up questions. After answering, people usually realize that they just didn’t enjoy the specific forms of exercise they’ve tried. I hate running, but there are so many other forms of activity that I’ve found I enjoy. I love walking, CrossFit classes, and pretending I know how to dance in my living room. Fact is, there are endless ways we can meet the physical activity guidelines for adults aged 18-64 of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous, or a combination of both weekly.
Meeting our exercise goals is vital because physical activity can lower blood pressure, decrease cardiovascular disease risks, improve insulin sensitivity, improve range of motion, prevent falls, promote weight loss, provide more energy, and reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression - the list seems endless. No medication can compare to all of the benefits that you get with physical activity. Plus, visceral fat, the most unhealthy type, is typically the first to go when you become more active.
So how do we build a program that will work? Here’s my top advice to people that want to improve their health but don’t know where to start:
- Think of the benefits of exercise and repeat them to yourself. Come up with a list of activities you haven't tried that will get you moving. Or activities you actually did enjoy but didn't stick to for some reason or another. Make exercise plans, and put them on your calendar. Ask others to help hold you accountable to follow through with those plans.
- Identify the barriers you've faced and see if you can develop strategies to overcome them. Don't be afraid to get outside assistance to come up with these strategies. And remember to work in some accountability again - we all need it. When starting something new, it can be difficult to self-motivate. Finding social support within your family or community can make a huge difference.
- Make a solid action plan, and then make a backup to your action plan. Unexpected things happen, causing plans to change. How can you accommodate the changes without sacrificing your new exercise program?
I like to think of exercise as medicine and something we all need prescribed to us. If you need help finding a way to be more active, I'm here for you. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll get to planning.
Kathryn Gentile, ACSM-CEP, EIM level II, CPT, CSN, DCES is an ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer, Sports Nutritionist Coach, and holds a level two Exercise is Medicine credential. She received her Bachelor of Science from Ave Maria University and is currently a Masters student studying Clinical Exercise Physiology at West Chester University of PA. Kathryn works at Integrated Diabetes Services as an Exercise Physiologist and provides one-on-one guidance for patients looking for individualized exercise plans.