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3 Reasons NOT to Start Exercising

You may think ‘Reasons not to Start Exercising’ is a bit of an odd title for a blog that focuses on being healthy in body, mind and spirit, but let me explain! For over 10 years I’ve been helping hundreds of people to start exercising. I don’t generally work with people who want to reach crazy goals, build big muscles, or run a marathon. Instead, I specialise in helping people to get started with exercise, because once you have started, it’s much easier to carry on from there.

In my experience, the reasons people have for starting to exercise affect whether or not they continue. And I have come across 3 reasons in particular that can actually be real barriers or obstacles that that put people off and mean they don’t want to move forward. The video and blog below explores these 3 reasons, and, more importantly, give you some tips for shifting your mindset to more positive reasons.

1. You want to burn calories: If your motivation for exercising is to burn more calories because you want to eat a certain thing, you’ve already have eaten a certain thing, or you want a certain eating lifestyle, then this can lead to disastrous consequences. Balancing the calorie input and output is doomed to fail because it’s so much easier to eat the calories than it is to burn them off. It’s not a fair swap as it takes an awful lot of exercise to burn off something that you’ve just eaten.

For example, a typical main meal could be around 600 calories but it’s going to take an hour plus of running or a couple of exercise sessions to burn that off, so it’s not a good way to be looking at things. If this is your main motivation to start exercising it’s probably not going to be very long before you get disheartened and realise actually it’s a lot of hard work, so you decide not to bother.

2. Someone has told you that you should start exercising: When it’s someone else, like a doctor, a parent, a friend or the government telling you should exercise, then that can do all kinds of things. It can make you put your hackles up and you might think: “I don’t like it when people tell me I should do something”. But it also means that all the motivation is coming from the outside so, even if you do get started, there’s actually not a lot to keep you going. You’ll start exercising, but actually because there’s no internal motivation, it’s going to die out pretty quickly.

Of course, getting a bit of a shock because you’ve had a health scare, perhaps if you are in hospital, or at the GP and they say you really should start exercising, can be enough for some people. But in general, if your main reason for starting exercise is that someone else has told you that you should do it, you might keep it up for a little while, but it’s unlikely to last if the real intrinsic motivations coming from inside you aren’t there.

3.  You want fast results. Lots of people choose to start exercising because they’ve seen a certain way someone else looks and want to look like that too, or they’ve seen that someone else can run 5K in under 25 minutes and want to do that, or they want to be able to lift a certain amount, or to look really toned. And more often than not they want to see results fast!  Well, if they don’t get those results quickly, guess what? They stop because they’re not seeing what they want to see.

So, burning calories, because someone tells you to or because you want fast results are really not good reasons for starting exercise; you need a different mindset to help it stick.  Instead, I encourage you to dig down deep and work out why you want to exercise, why you feel it’s important for you. You could read into the Bible and talk to some friends who exercise and try and get that intrinsic motivation going to the point where you realise you do want to do it.  

And to make sure your goal isn’t ‘fast results’ you need to think about what else exercise can bring for you; there are so many benefits! Exercise is great for your heart health, great for your body composition, it obviously makes you fitter and gives you more stamina to make sure that you can keep going for longer, whether that’s a longer exercise session or a longer life! Exercise helps to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure and it can make you less stressed. There are added benefits to exercising outside too and all the endorphins that help lift your mood.

I encourage you to do some research about what the actual benefits are. Make sure you want to exercise for the right reasons; that you’re motivated from the inside and the results that you want are actually based around wanting to be healthy and to feel better, to share the camaraderie of being with other people, rather than just burning calories or getting quick results.

I often get asked by people what the best exercise is for them to do and I encourage people to find something that they will enjoy doing. The best exercise for you is the thing you’ll enjoy the best and that’s easiest for you. That’s the way to get started. If you are able to go out and walk, go out and walk. If you’ve got a hill by your house, try walking up the hill.  If you’ve got access to online exercise classes, try an online exercise class. Once the current restrictions are lifted and we can go out and do things again, you may want to join a team sport or a club.

And having that accountability and camaraderie around you to encourage you to keep going is so helpful too. If you start for the right reasons, if your motivations are right and the results you want aren’t about looking a certain way, weighing a certain amount or burning a certain amount of calories, but instead are about the whole-health benefits, feeling better and prolonging your life, then they will carry you forward.  And it won’t be long before you don’t want to stop; before you know it you will be an exerciser!  

If you’d like to do some exercise online, we’re running Fitfish exercise classes you can do in your own home. All the details are here on the website. We’d love for you to come and join us and feel part of the community.

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