What's the number one reason most people don't exercise? We asked Dr. Uche Odiatu, an NSCA and Can Fit Pro certified personal trainer, that question. He is also a certified holistic lifestyle coach, and co-author with his wife, Kary, of the book The Miracle of Health: Simple Solutions. Extraordinary Results.
"The reason people don't exercise is time," Odiatu says. "The sad part is that everyone who exercises gets so much auxiliary benefit from exercise. You have a second wind at the end of the day, you have more time for your family when you get home – you have more energy to enjoy your time as a family. Exercise actually gives you time."
You don't have to spend hours at the gym, either. Odiatu says that just doing some resistance training a few times a week can really boost your fitness level.
"In as little as 20 minutes, twice a week, you get the benefits of resistance training," he says. "There are 168 hours in the week. Just using 40 minutes of that for resistance training can have someone looking more toned, having better posture and reaping all the benefits."
Realistically, though, how do you find time to fit exercise into your already jam-packed schedule? Odiatu offers these tips to help you get – and stay – on track:
Find your exercise style: Choose activities you love that will keep you motivated long-term, Odiatu says. Ask yourself, what's my exercise style? If you don't know your exercise style, you're bound to fall off the wagon. Odiatu says about one-third of people prefer to exercise alone (i.e. runners, solitary gym-goers, etc.), one-third prefer a group setting (like a class at the gym, a team or a fitness group), and one-third can use either method. Try out a few different things to find out which one you prefer. You may be surprised to find out you love spinning class or that you're better off running on your own.
Schedule it in: Part of making time to exercise is making the commitment to exercise, so make it part of your daily schedule. If you set a specific appointment to exercise, you're more likely to stick to it. And don't give up after a week or two. Odiatu says you have to try out an exercise program at least 12 times to make it a permanent part of your lifestyle. And if you miss a workout? Don't beat yourself up over it or give up. Just jump right back in it the next time and you'll make your program stick.
Try mixed-method training: Many people don't exercise because they think it means spending endless hours in the gym doing cardio, then weights, Odiatu says. But new training methods are changing that, allowing people to get a full cardio and strength training workout in as little as 20 minutes. It's called mixed method training, where you move quickly from exercise to exercise to keep your heart rate up and work your muscles at the same time. For example, you might do a bench press, then two minutes on the stepper, then do a dumbbell fly, then tricep dips and so on. The key is that you keep moving back and forth. "It's a very efficient use of time," Odiatu says. The best part is that you can even perform these types of exercises at home, particularly if you have a trainer set you up with a good program. Now that's a time saver!
A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.