If you’ve made a resolution to lose weight in 2019, you certainly aren’t alone. In fact, research suggests that six in 10 Americans have said that this year is the year they’ll get in shape. Although some might turn to fad diets or CoolSculpting (which can provide results in as little as three weeks), many are trying to get fit the old fashioned way: by exercising.
There are plenty of obvious benefits of getting — and staying — physically active. For example, a study conducted by the British Medical Association found that coronary heart disease was reduced by 50% when people cycled 20 miles a week.But reaching those fitness goals can be difficult when you feel like life is getting in the way. Between our culture’s obsession with busy-ness to our own self-esteem hangups, it’s no surprise that many Americans become discouraged and give up on their resolutions. However, there are ways to combat those excuses and overcome those obstacles.
The truth is that less than 5% of U.S. adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity of a daily basis. One of the most popular reasons that Americans don’t exercise? They can’t seem to find the time. Approximately 42% of Americans say they can’t fit it into their schedule, which makes sense when you consider that the average American has only 89 minutes of free time per day. It’s understandable that they may not want to spend that time driving to the gym and running on the treadmill. Convenience is a big barrier to exercise, as only 29% of Americans say working out is accessible and timely for their lifestyle.
To get past this, experts suggest that you treat working out as you would any other appointment. If you pre-schedule a session with a personal trainer or simply block off your calendar and hold yourself accountable, you might be less likely to cite a jam-packed itinerary as a viable reason to skip the gym. If you can’t even make time for that, try sneaking some exercise into your daily routine by biking to work, taking a walk during your lunch break, opting for the stairs instead of the elevator, or signing up for a high-intensity class at your gym or community center. These options can get you moving without the big time commitment. Remember: a little bit of exercise is better than none!
So what if you have the time but not the money? Around 21% of Americans don’t have equipment at home to work out, while 20% say it’s too expensive to exercise and 18% say the gym is simply too far away. Gym memberships can be costly, which is why some people would rather work out at home. But buying a treadmill or elliptical may not be in your budget right now. That’s not necessarily a problem. If you invest in some free weights, a yoga mat, and some resistance bands, that’s a great place to start — and there’s a wide variety of home workouts you can do with those.
Of course, creating a home gym often requires having a space big enough for equipment. Or does it? If you have a small apartment, you can still get fit. You’ll just need to get a little creative. The average U.S. household has around 300,000 things inside, which means you’ll need to make the most of all available vertical space. Hang jump ropes and resistance bands on wall hooks, build a shelf for your water bottle and mat, or utilize a linen closet or table with built-in storage to keep your gear out of sight when you aren’t using it. You’ll want to designate a specific space for your workouts so that you can get in the right frame of mind and get motivated when you move to that spot.
And speaking of motivation: a lack of motivation is what 35% of Americans say keeps them from exercising at all. And 25% say they really just hate exercising. In both cases, you might have to have patience and find an activity that actually keeps your interest. If you’re bored with your workout, you probably won’t stick with it very long. Swimming, yoga, kickboxing, Zumba, and other routines might appeal to those who can’t bear to spend another hour on the treadmill. Try switching up your routine and keep an open mind.
Sometimes, our perception of ourselves (or what we think others may think of us) might discourage us from getting fit. Considering there have been instances of people being fat-shamed at their own gyms, it’s no wonder those with body image issues might want to avoid signing up for or using their own memberships.
Even our reliance on social media may be hurting our ability to work out without feeling embarrassed. While 93% of recruiters view candidates’ social media profiles, most of us use these platforms for connection, inspiration, and escape. One recent survey found that platforms like Instagram can make us feel more self-conscious, rather than more confident. Over one-third of women said they felt too self-conscious to join a gym and 32% of women said social media is more harmful than helpful in terms of encouraging people to prioritize fitness. Around 22% of people said Instagram photos showing others at the gym made them feel pressured to look a specific way and 22% of women said the staged gym photos on Instagram made them feel like a fit lifestyle is inaccessible to them. That said, 69% of people said more realistic gym photos could make them want to work out more.
The best advice here is to unfollow any accounts that make you feel bad about your own body and replace those accounts with ones that promote body positivity and authenticity. Alternatively, you could just limit your social media usage altogether. If your lack of self-esteem is keeping you from being active in the way you’d like, try to remember that everyone is there for their own health — not to judge others. Get some workout clothes that make you feel awesome and strong, create a playlist that will keep you pumped up, and tune everyone else out. It can be difficult to get over that initial feeling of dread, but you’ll feel amazing after working up a sweat — and you’ll gain confidence the more you do it.
In the end, most people aren’t disciplined enough to work out every single day. But if you’re able to zero in on what’s holding you back and look at it as an opportunity to grow (rather than as an excuse to skip the gym), you might just find you have the time and motivation to work out after all.