Exercise motivation to improve your physical and mental health

It can be easy to have a list of excuses when it comes to exercise. From a busy schedule to fatigue to lack of interest, we've all been guilty of finding reasons to skip out on physical activity.

It's time to break free from the cycle of excuses and embrace the benefits of regular physical activity. Whether you're a busy professional, retiree, or somewhere in between, there are options and strategies to fit exercise into your life.

Everyday benefits from exercise

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to improve your overall health and well-being. Here are six reasons to incorporate exercise into your daily routine:

1. Improved physical health

Exercise can help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and many types of cancer.

2. Better mental health

Physical activity releases endorphins, the “happiness hormones” that can reduce stress and help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

3. Increased strength and flexibility

Regular exercise can enhance your overall physical function and quality of life, while also reducing your risk of injury.

4. Weight management

Exercise plays a crucial role in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and body composition. It can increase metabolism, or how many calories you burn in a day. Exercise can also help you build muscle mass, which increases the number of calories you burn each day.

5. Enhanced brain function

Physical activity can boost brain health by improving memory and your ability to think clearly.

6. Social connections

Participating in group activities or classes can help you build social connections and stay more accountable with your exercise goals. 

Forget the exercise excuses

Let’s look at seven common excuses for not exercising and how to overcome them.

1. No time

Time is often the most common excuse for skipping exercise. But just 15 minutes of exercise a day has proven to be beneficial for health and life expectancy. If you're new to fitness or haven't been active in a long time, a 15-minute workout may be the best way to start. 

Exercising 30 to 60 minutes per day is ideal. If time constraints don’t allow you to do it all at once, break exercise up into a few sessions of 10 minutes each.

2. Too tired

Feeling tired is a valid concern. Exercise, however, can actually boost your energy level. Even a low-intensity activity like a leisurely walk can make you feel more energized afterward.

3. Too old

Physical activity is beneficial for people of all ages and it’s never too late to start. The emotional and physical benefits make any form of exercise worth it, no matter what your age. 

4. Not fit enough

Feeling out of shape is a common excuse, but it's not a reason to avoid exercise. Every fitness journey begins somewhere, and the important thing is to start. Begin with exercises that are within your comfort zone and gradually increase the intensity as you become more comfortable.

5. Not motivated

Lack of motivation is a common hurdle, but there are ways to overcome it. Set clear and achievable goals, find a workout buddy to keep you accountable, or reward yourself after reaching a fitness milestone. Remember that motivation often follows action, so start moving. You may find your motivation grows with each workout.

6. Too expensive

Gym memberships and fancy workout equipment can be costly, but fortunately, they aren’t needed for being active. There are plenty of budget-friendly options like walking in your neighborhood, a park, or shopping mall; taking advantage of free, online exercise videos; or joining community fitness classes. Decide what works best for your budget, and then go for it.

7. Have tried before without success

If you've tried to begin an exercise routine in the past without success, don't give up. The key is to find activities you enjoy. It doesn’t matter whether it’s walking, dancing, swimming, strength training, yoga, aerobics, cycling, or pickleball. If it’s something you enjoy and can make a regular part of your life, then that’s the exercise for you.

How to start exercising

To get started, begin with small, achievable goals. Don't be too hard on yourself if you don’t achieve all you set out to do. Remember that consistency is key, and the benefits of exercise add up over time.

You should also get advice from your doctor on how to create an exercise routine that provides the most benefit and the least risk to your health. It should include realistic goals for your current health and lifestyle, while being safe and enjoyable.