Working out helps with weight loss, allows us to build muscle, and can also improve both mental and cardiovascular health – but despite being told this on a near-daily basis (thanks, Facebook) it is still a HUGE challenge for most of us to even begin.
In general, we often find life’s daily challenges (and the stress associated with it) limited not only in our motivation to exercise, but also our physical availability to make it to the gym or maintain a regular training schedule.
While maintaining both our work and social lives is incredibly important (trying to live without food and friends is not a particularly enticing prospect), I would like to argue that maybe they should NOT be prioritized above our health ALL the time.
So with that in mind, we are going to touch on some of the biggest workout challenges that people experience when trying to exercise on a regular basis, as well as how we can overcome them through smart planning and small lifestyle changes.
2 of the Biggest Workout Challenges and How to Overcome Them
1. Daily Life
The vast majority of us find it extremely difficult to find the time to exercise – and this is completely normal. Between work, study, and socializing with friends, our available time can fill up extremely quickly, leaving very little opportunity to train.
In a study done by CDC, only about 20 percent of respondents met the recommended amount of exercise.
Though neglecting our own health in favor of maintaining other lifestyle factors might be the norm, that doesn’t make it appropriate. We need to maintain a positive health-life balance, where we exercise regularly, but still enjoy time with friends and family, as well as be able to manage our work and study effectively.
This is easier said than done.
But there is a way to manage this amazing feat of balance: creating routine. By organizing our schedule thoroughly, we can allocate time to work, study, socialise, AND exercise in an extremely efficient and effective manner. While this may sound a little boring (in that it doesn’t suggest a whole lot of spontaneity), that isn’t really the case.
By writing down a daily or weekly schedule, we can mentally prepare ourselves for the upcoming week and all that it entails. Not only will this make us more efficient in almost every aspect of life, it will also make us more likely to perform those tasks on our routine schedule.
By allocating exercise to specific days of the week, and at specific times (either before or after work is best), we are more likely to make it to the gym and work out because we are mentally and emotionally prepared to do so. Once this routine becomes a habit, then we will start going without a second thought.
This is going to make it easier to train regularly and reap the rewards of exercise in the long run, while limiting the implications of work and study on our exercise schedule.
Such workout challenges can also be overcome by finding a regular gym buddy. Having someone to train with regularly (whether it be a friend or work colleague), will help us become accountable to someone other than our self.
This should improve our adherence to exercise, making us more consistent – as we are not only working out for ourselves, but for someone else as well.
Also read these quotes about movement for fitness inspiration.
2. Maintaining Motivation
Going hand in hand with lifestyle-related factors mentioned above, one of the biggest workout challenges is heavily related to motivation.
I get it: exercise is not easy.
Making lasting changes requires hard work and dedication. We need to exercise on a consistent basis for a decent chunk of time. This prospect in itself can actually become disheartening because we want to see the progress of our efforts immediately. Thinking about this can make it extremely difficult to even start exercising.
With this in mind, it’s important to take a step back and realise that exercising on a regular basis is in fact, a lifestyle choice, NOT a quick fix.
Once we adopt this mindset, it makes it so much easier to go to the gym and exercise, especially if we consider that it’s for our own benefit. To see that benefit, we need to maintain our efforts on a regular and consistent basis.
Secondly, we need to start considering exercise a task that we want to do, rather than something that we have to do. Enjoy the gradual process of making changes to your body. Observe the physical changes, or changes in performance (e.g. an increase in strength or speed).
For most, this means paying close attention to how we feel during exercise. Enjoy sweating and working hard, while also seeing the amazing feats that our body is truly capable of performing.
It is also important to note in fact, that a huge portion of those who start exercising, don’t continue for a very long time. According to wellness expert, Paul Elsass, 90 percent of people who sign up for gym memberships in January will quit coming before March.
It’s normal for people to struggle with making exercise a lifestyle change because we lose motivation quickly – this makes us stop the process entirely. One of the best ways to eliminate the likelihood of this occurring is to keep ourselves interested by setting training-related goals.
It could be aiming to complete a marathon in six months (or something similar to that), and targeting our training towards that outcome. Once we have accomplished that, we can move on to a completely different goal (e.g. dead-lifting 225 pounds or completing 10 body weight chin-ups).
It doesn’t really matter what the training goal is – just that we have one. By having a goal, we are more likely to train with intent in every single session, while working towards a specific outcome. By changing this goal once we have achieved it, we can vary our training style and continue to keep our exercise program interesting.
This will help maintain our motivation and improve our adherence to training for the long term – turning exercise into a lasting lifestyle change as a result.
Exercising regularly is hands down the best thing we can do for ourselves – it’s just doing it that’s the hard part.
By making regular exercise a part of our weekly routine, and changing the way we view working out in general, we can greatly increase our adherence to exercise in its entirety, while also improving how much we enjoy it.
This, in turn, will allow us to reap its rewards, while also increasing our ability to train on a regular basis. Whatever workout challenges you’re facing now, be confident that you can overcome them eventually.