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There’s only one thing keeping you from working out and getting healthier. You. The good news is, your dog can’t eat your treadmill, which means you have very few good excuses for skipping your workout. Occasionally you have a wedding to go to, or you’re in open-heart surgery, or a meteor is three hours from striking the Earth, but most of the time your excuses are not as creative as you think.
Here are the most common excuses.
1) I’M SICK! – Okay, the plague is a good excuse to refrain from your high-intensity interval workout. In fact, so is any fever. But a head cold — it might actually help to exercise. Exercise can clear your sinus passages. According to David Pyne, senior physiologist at the Australian Institute of Sport, as quoted in Best Health Magazine, you should follow the “neck rule” — symptoms only above your neck and you’re clear to exercise. Anything below — nasty cough in your chest, body aches, twitchy stomach — and it’s best to sit this one out. Just be sure to drink lots of water if you do pump iron, as a cold can make you pretty dry.
2) I DON’T HAVE TIME! – Do you have time to get sick? Because a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the more a person exercises, the less he/she gets sick. Participants in the study who exercised a minimum of 100 minutes a week (that’s less than two Barry’s Bootcamp classes!) were ill 40% fewer days than the couch potatoes. 40%! That’s a lot of time saved because you decided to have a good bod, inside and out. And if you can’t always dedicate an hour, you can always split up your exercise into small bits throughout the day. But remember, the study showed that more exercise equals less illness, so get that blood pumping as often as possible.
3) I’M TOO TIRED! – Ah, adulthood – if you’re not tired, you’re not doing it right. But guess what? Exercise will actually wake you up. A University of Georgia study found that regular exercise actually decreases fatigue. Why? Exercise gets your blood flowing more efficiently, it revs up your metabolism, improves endurance, and raises your endorphin levels (which helps improve your overall mood and may aid your sleep). Grab a run or a weight and get the caffeine high without the caffeine. Or do the caffeine boost, too — studies show caffeine can help boost your workout performance.
4) UGH, HANGOVER! (do you have to YELL?) – Forget the hair of the dog that bit you. Bite back. Too much alcohol dehydrates, leaving you headachy, nauseous, and frankly, looking pretty wrung out. You need water. As pointed out in this Livestrong.com article alcohol also slows your brain activity (which is why it took so long for you to realize that girl in the bar was not actually a girl). You need to get your brain and blood moving again, and exercise could be just the ticket. Say thank you to those friendly endorphins again, because they’re going to get your brain back into shape. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, however, you may need to ease yourself back in with something a little gentler than a two hour run.
5) I’M OUT OF SHAPE! Half of you are reeling at the irony, the other half of you are nodding your heads in agreement. Who wants to walk into a room full of fit bodies and have everyone stare at you as you struggle to keep up at half the pace? If this is you, remember that everyone started somewhere! And this is where you should start — in a supportive environment. Try an organized class with an encouraging trainer. Not only will a good trainer cheer you on and push you to reach your goals, but you’ll find a class full of people who want you to succeed. How about a workout buddy? A study from the Michigan State University’s Department of Kinesiology concluded that you’re likely to work out twice as long with a friend as someone who goes solo (one tip: it actually works better when your friend is slightly more fit than you). No friend who’s as motivated as you? Try technology. Posting your goals on your Facebook page or tweeting them and regularly updating your progress gets your friends involved, who become your virtual cheerleaders. And we all know the team with the best cheerleaders always wins. Or at least has fun trying.
6) I CAN’T AFFORD IT! Time-crunched Americans somehow manage to outsource everything else from manicures to dog walking because we’re too busy to do these menial tasks ourselves. That’s fine, but guess what? You can pay somebody else to do just about anything else from raising your children to marrying you. But nobody else can exercise in your place. Even if you could afford a personal trainer, only you can actually show up and do the work. That’s why even impossibly wealthy celebrities like Oprah Winfrey struggles with exercising and eating right because no matter how much money she has, even she cannot outsource sweating. You can’t afford NOT to exercise because your health is priceless.
So next time you don’t want to work out, say this to yourself over and over — “NO EXCUSES, NO EXCUSES, NO EXCUSES…” until everyone around you moves a safe distance away from the crazy person and you have nothing left to do but exercise.