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3 Tips to Help You Keep Exercising This Year

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3 Tips to Help You Keep Exercising This Year

Jan 12, 2022

Many people promise to exercise more in the new year, but more than a few eventually give up. Nick Galli from University of Utah’s Department of Health Promotion and Education, identifies three reasons people often don't exercise enough or fail to stick with their exercise plan. Learn some concrete things you can do to stay active and healthy in the coming year.

Episode Transcript

Interviewer: You want to start exercising more? Well, here are some tips how you can stick with it this time. That's next on The Scope.

All right. So it's your new year's resolution to start exercising again, and here are three things that might get in the way of your success and how you can overcome them.

Nick Galli is a health coach and an assistant professor of Health Promotion and Education in the Department of Health at University of Utah. Nick, when somebody comes to you and says they want to exercise more and you start working with them towards that goal, what are some of the common things that you see that might get in the way of their success?

Nick: Well, Scot, I think first off, there are a lot of things. To boil it down to three, the first one I would probably be on the lookout for is lack of time. Or more specifically, a perception of lack of time. Oftentimes, you will hear people cite lack of time as a reason that they don't exercise, but when you really get them thinking there's usually at least small blocks of time that they do have throughout their day.

The research shows that we can achieve benefits in as little as 10-minute bouts of physical activity. So if you've got 10 minutes somewhere in your day, maybe that means getting up 10 minutes earlier, 10 minutes less of social media, you can probably figure out how to fit exercise in. So what I would like to do with folks who are having a hard time is have them map out their schedule, open their calendar and see exactly what are they doing, how are they spending their day and how might they be able to modify that to fit exercise in.

Interviewer: Yeah, and find something that maybe they're doing that they look at it and go, "Well, this probably isn't as important of a priority as exercise."

Nick: Right. You might sort of a rank order, "Okay, how important is this?"

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah, all right. So perceived lack of time is a big barrier so you've got to look for that time, maybe hard schedule it in your calendar, whatever you got to do. What's number two, like when you run into some issues?

Nick: Number two I would say is a very narrow definition of what counts as exercise. Around this time of year, the health clubs are going to be hitting the marketing hard, they want to get new members in. If you haven't exercised before, it's easy to get the impression that exercise has to be at a health club, at one of these commercial gyms that we see, and that's not for everybody. Not everybody works best that way, in that setting, on those machines.

So I like to try and work with clients on thinking about, "Hey, what is it that you can do to just get your body moving?" It's that simple. It doesn't have to mean going to the gym. It could mean taking a walk. It could mean doing some gardening. I mean, it could mean a lot of things. What can we do to just move your body, get your heart rate up? That counts as exercise.

Interviewer: That seems like a kind of a low bar but that's still enough, huh?

Nick: Absolutely. Ten minutes.

Interviewer: Ten minutes.

Nick: Ten minutes a day getting your heart rate up. Better than nothing at all, for sure.

Interviewer: All right. Number two, that's good. Exercise doesn't have to be going to the gym and getting on the treadmill or lifting weights. I mean, if you like that, great. But it could be taking the dog for a walk, so that's good.

Nick: It could be yoga. I mean, a lot of folks think about other ways of taxing your body.

Interviewer: Sure. Go snowshoeing if you want to.

Nick: Yeah.

Interviewer: Play Frisbee.

Nick: We live in, probably, the greatest outdoor state in the country.

Interviewer: Right.

Nick: Those kinds of things.

Interviewer: Exercise everywhere, all right. So don't have that narrow idea of what exercise is. Broaden that out. What about number three? Something that gets in the way of somebody reaching their goal of exercising more.

Nick: Number three, I think it probably becomes more of a problem once the person begins. We know drop-out is pretty high. Half of folks who start an exercise program have dropped out within six months, so I would say number three is unrealistic expectations. That could be unrealistic expectations for changes to the body, unrealistic expectations of what the individual can handle.

I've seen folks be really excited and enthusiastic, and they go in and do this really high-intensity workout for a week and now they can't get out of bed. That's no fun. That's not very reinforcing and that's a major cause of folks saying, "This isn't for me."

So really, and this is where if you're going to exercise in the traditional way, it can be really useful to have a professional helping you out, someone who knows a bit about the physiology of exercise and the body, and can tell you where to start and can assess you and get you on a program that's right for you, it's not too much, not too little. To know that there are changes happening even if they're not always visual changes. The changes in the mirror do not happen within the first couple weeks, they happen over time.

But physiologically, there are changes that are happening. You're getting stronger in your muscles, your heart's getting stronger, your lungs are getting stronger, all those things are happening. So a good personal trainer will be able to assess measures of functional change separate from measures of aesthetic change, which we all love but those are the changes that sometimes take a little longer.

Interviewer: What about in general? So when you are in a workout routine. We talked about three things that could get in the way of somebody continuing. In general, obstacles come up. What's a good way of dealing with those? Because we can't hit everything, right?

Nick: No. Have a plan if you can. Think about obstacles, if you can have that kind of foresight to imagine things that might come up. Things will come up, things with work, things with family. You might get sick or injured. Be prepared for those, have a plan. Maybe that means you have to modify what you do, maybe that means you have to be, "Okay, for a few days I have to take some time off." So I think having a plan is probably the most important, and realizing that just because you fall off for a couple days, that doesn't mean all is lost.

Interviewer: Yeah, you don't have to quit.

Nick: No. You don't have to quit.

Interviewer: Just get back into it.

Nick: Exactly.

updated: January 12, 2022
originally published: January 3, 2017