November 20, 2019   6:52am

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Why you’re NOT exercising

“If exercise is such a good idea, why don’t people do it?” asks Sanjay Gupta in “Stuck on the Counch,” Time magazine.* Seems the slowdown occurs around the time we start college. While academic demands and lack of organized sports are part of the problem, “a bigger part may be a curious human tendency to look at life changes as an occasion to blow up the old rules and not create new ones in their place. This is especially so when it comes to staying fit.”

This is a pattern we repeat over and over due to all the demands that happen with each new life stage. An article in the Observer, the magazine of the Association for Psychological Science, is cited. Here Ian Herbert reports on numerous studies which suggest, for example, that “self-control is like a psychological muscle — one that can simply become exhausted. Spend your day trying to maintain your composure with a willful toddler or a demanding boss, and you may not have enough discipline left later to stick to your fitness routine. If that routine involves a diet, things can get even more complicated … the more you use the self-control muscle, the more tired it gets.” Other points made: not having a clearly defined exercise plan can hurt … having a personal trainer (surprise!) can hurt because “resolve melts once the training sessions end” leaving us without the self-efficacy we need to follow our own plan. There’s good news, too, because “the self-control muscle can get strengthened and trained. Here are some ways that works:

  • begin with simple exercises that are simple, like sitting straighter or drinking more water
  • have a very specific workout plan with a schedule
  • while coaching is good, taper off working with the trainer so you become accountable to you
  • don’t fall for a life change becoming an excuse

*Fit Nation, “Stuck on the Couch,” Time, March 3, 2008, Sanjay Gupta, M.D. pg 58

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