Solve your activity apathy in 6 easy ways

What’s stopping you from getting physical?

Are you one of the many who live their sports through memories of their youth or by watching others in front of the box watching the dedicated sports channels, supporting a sport’s team, attending cricket one-dayers, tennis cups, golf classics, or even visiting the oval with their kids in school sport? If cheering is the only workout your lungs get and the Mexican wave is about as physical as you can manage, then you need to get active.

With more than 30 years behind me as a dietitian, I’ve heard 1000s of excuses to explain inactivity away.

Too tired, too old, don’t like it, too wet, too hot, the list goes on forever.

And whilst I am the first to agree that physical activity may not help you burn off excess body fat, activity does definitely help you to keep body fat off long term and avoid the rebound weight gain. It also helps tone the body and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, helps with blood glucose and blood pressure control, improves mood, and reduces levels of depressed feelings. In other words, daily activity helps you in ways far beyond managing your weight.

Take a look at the top 6 reasons and explore a few solutions.

1. No time?

  • Automatically build activity into your day.
    • Forget the lift, take the stairs.
    • Park further away from the drop-off zone or shops so you walk a little further.
    • Stand while you’re watching TV (or at least during the ad breaks) or talking on the phone.
  • Use the time spent waiting. How much time do you spend hanging around, just waiting? At the bus stop, train station, school pick-up, kids’ sports session, for the kettle to boil or microwave to ping, or somewhere else—be honest. Use that time to add a little more movement. At home, use an exercise band or do hand weights (with cans of food), jump on the treadmill, exercise bike, or walk on the spot. Near public transport, walk up and down the platform or to the next bus stop. Everyone can grab a little time to be active.
  • Do the maths on your own day to find some spare time. 24 hrs a day - 10 hrs work and commuting - 8 hrs sleeping – 2 hr domestic stuff (eg cooking/laundry)– 2 hrs miscellaneous (eg shower/meal times/homework) = 2 hrs spare. Surely you can book in an 10-15 minutes extra of planned activity most days, especially your non-work days when the 10 hr work block is freed up?

2. Don't like exercise? Bad memories of sweat and pain for no gain?

  • Forget about the notion of "no pain= no gain".
  • Find activities that you like and enjoy them more often. Exercise doesn’t have to be formal sport or gym work.
  • Exercise is anything that moves your body more than you are doing now. Whether it’s gardening, walking, dancing, mucking about with the footy, or golf.
  • Look for fun and vary what you do. Yo-yo skills, racing the dog to fetch the ball, frisbee with the local kids …

3. No energy or too old or too tired?

  • Get an exercise clearance test from your GP or ask us for a referral for an expert and objective, unbiased assessment of your true fitness.
  • Start small and move steadily. That way you won't over-tax your body, but you will gradually build up your fitness and strength. It will get easier with time.
  • Find an activity that doesn’t stress your body too much – water work-outs, hydrotherapy or seated activities might be what your personal trainer or physio suggests – talk to an exercise expert before you start. Find one today.

4. Easily distracted and forget to do it?

  • Change into your runners before you leave work and before go to pick kids up.
  • Leave the runners in the car or by the door or keep a spare set at work for lunchtime walks.
  • Set up reminders in your phone/computer/diary/calender and lock in a date with yourself to be active.

5. Too hot or wet in summer? Too cold or dark in winter?

  • A raincoat or umbrella will keep you dry. Rain will cool you down. If you don’t like the rain, then have some indoor activities up your sleeve. Consider hand weights, stationary bike, indoor elliptical trainer, stair climbing, or pilates.
  • Find an air-conditioned venue or buy a fan for those hot days. Jump into the pool or carry a water bottle to douse yourself.
  • Activity generates heat! Pull the quilt off, rug up, grab the gloves and beanie—get physical. Soon you’ll be tearing the layers off and turning the heater down.
  • Reschedule your activity if you can’t use a torch to light your way.

6. Don’t like doing it alone?

  • Ask around—you may be surprised to discover someone from your child’s school, the church, local club, your work wants to walk, but like you doesn’t want to do it alone.
  • Ring the Heart Foundation for their group walking program.
  • Ring up or log onto your local council’s community programs to find lots of physical fun happenings at local parks, walkways, community centres and pools.
  • Join a club.
  • Ask at the local bicycle or sports equipment shop for leads on fitness fun.
  • Keep your eyes open for charity walking events and join them.

Explore the official Government advice on activity for teenagers and the different advice for adults.

NOTE: I am not an exercise expert, so please seek advice from a personal trainer, physiotherapist or your doctor for specific exercises and activity