Submitted by Jennifer Salter on
The number one reason people give for not exercising is that they don't have enough time to fit in regular workouts. A critical aspect of what I do with my clients is work through these perceived barriers to find solutions that work for each individual. This may include: Fragmented, or discontinuous, exercise. Dividing a daily exercise goal into several smaller segments that can be slotted into a busy schedule is an effective training technique for busy clients, and also for those who cannot tolerate long bouts of exercise for various health reasons. Planning this type of program effectively is a bit of an art, and a science. Make a realistic determination about the exercise volume that a client can include in his/her week. People are much more likely to comply with recommendations that seem achievable, than those that seem impossible to incorporate. An honest conversation about what is truly realistic is often necessary in order to create a workable plan. Being flexible about exercise intensity. While we know that higher intensity exercise generates more favourable health outcomes, many people do not like to do it. They may find it uncomfortable and, as a result, avoid exercising. The good news is that moderate intensity exercise also generates advantages, so some individuals are happy to exchange some degree of benefit for a more pleasurable fitness experience. "Not enough time" as an identified barrier often disappears when the client begins to positively anticipate exercise sessions. Monitor exercise intensity. Using various tools to monitor and adjust exercise intensity makes for higher quality workouts. Ensuring that each and every workout has a specific purpose translates into substantially better results. Incorporate a low volume of high intensity training. Short bouts of very high intensity interval training (HIIT) can produce marked health benefits at a fraction of the time required to attain these advantages through moderate intensity programming. Twice weekly sessions of 20-30 minutes that include all-out intervals on a treadmill, elliptical trainer, or stationary cycle/spin bike, can solve the "zero time" issue. Biking up a steep hill, or running track repeats, are also options. The only caveat is that this type of exercise requires a good baseline fitness level, and experience with the chosen exercise modality. For example, someone who does not have running experience should not engage in fast running until he/she some measure of experience specific to the sport. Biking, being low impact, is more forgiving - but the risk of injury should always be taken into consideration.
Active transportation. Biking, walking, or even running to work can naturally incorporate exercise into a daily routine with no extra time commitment whatsoever. I myself bike everywhere I can from May to November, knowing that even if I miss a scheduled workout I will still have at least 45 minutes of exercise under my belt that day. I have started to notice more and more people running to work/school recently, often with backpacks which are specially designed for this purpose. And, being extremely fortunate to reside in the extremely liveable downtown of a big city, witness countless people walking to where they need to go. Take stairs as a rule. I tell many of my clients who can tolerate stair climbing to do so as much as possible. For those who are physically able, I recommend that they make a pact with themselves to only take the stairs. A cognitive-behavioral framework of practice. Our thoughts, feelings and behaviors are inextricably linked, and altering one usually affects the others. As an Ontario Registered Social Worker, in addition to being a Certified Medical Exercise Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer, I have a deep understanding of how cognition - what we think - affects what we do, and vice versa. Even though many people do not feel an intrinsic motivation to exercise, even short workout sessions can quell anxiety and change thought processes. Explaining this mechanism encourages my clients to take small steps toward beneficial lifestyle changes.