Get Around Excuses for Not Exercising

How many people do you know who were going to start exercising and start getting in shape and they were going to start this coming week, but that was two weeks ago and they still haven’t started yet? What excuse did they have this time? Maybe this has happened so many times, you stopped counting. Maybe this has even happened to you more times than you can remember. Well, what’s stopping you?

Here are some of the most common excuses used by people to not exercise, and the ways that you can get around those excuses if they have plagued you and are stopping you from partaking in a healthier lifestyle.

By far and away, the most common excuse used today is; “I don’t have the time to exercise”. The old perception that you have to exercise for 1 to 2 hours a day is just nonsense. A good, solid exercise routine doesn’t have to last for more than 20 to 30 minutes a day to be very effective. If you can’t find up to 30 minutes a day to exercise, then how do you manage to find up to 2 hours or more a day to watch TV?

Another popular excuse used often is; “I can’t afford to pay for a gym membership or for home equipment”. The fact is, you can get in better shape and lose weight without ever setting foot in a gym. Walking and or jogging around your neighborhood or in the local park don’t cost a dime and will give you all of the benefits of a cardio workout at the gym. Doing callisthenic exercises such as crunches and pushups and so on at home also cost nothing. Home fitness equipment can also be purchased that will give you a good resistance workout for under $50.00 such as resistance tubing bands and an exercise ball.

“I don’t know how to exercise or what exercises to do” is an excuse that gets used from time to time, but there are several ways to learn how to exercise right and what exercises to do. Using the services of a qualified, certified personal trainer is the best way to get you going in the fight direction. If affordability is an issue with a trainer, there are workout videos and books that you can buy to help you out, you can even find loads of exercise books at your local library that you can check out free of charge.

Another excuse that seems to be fairly common is; “I’m too old and/or out of shape to start exercising”. This excuse is really only valid if your doctor has told you that you should not exercise for some medical reason. If you are very out of shape or you are a senior citizen, then you may just have to start out slowly. Even starting out with only 5 minutes a day of exercise and slowly increasing as you go is much better than doing no exercise at all.

Last but not least and by far my favorite excuse is; “I hate anything to do with exercise”. This one always gives me a laugh. Most people who really think they hate exercise do so because they are stuck with the image that exercise is a series of boring, grunt and groan exercises involving heavy weights, or jogging far enough to complete the Boston marathon. The old adage of “no pain, no gain” is still embedded in the minds of many people, and who wants to have to go through pain every day to get in better shape? Exercise is really all about getting active and getting your body moving. Even playing in a softball league or hiking on a trail or bicycle riding is good exercise. Just find activities that you like to do and you will find that exercise can be fun.

Fitness Really Matters

Because of technological advances our lives have become much more sedentary. We no longer have to get up to change the channel on the TV nor do we have to actively engage our arm muscles to roll a car window down or up. We even get to sit in our car as it is being washed for us.

Because of these marvelous advances we as a population have lost a lot of our muscle tone and even our endurance. We no longer walk to the store or even walk to the mailbox, in some cases.

When someone loses the ability to do things for themselves it’s not because of the aging process it’s because of disuse. The best news is that it is never too late to adopt a more active lifestyle.

Most people who have difficulty sticking with a health-promoting program usually make it too complex. Along with activities that promote cardiovascular fitness, such as walking or cycling, you can add all sorts of leisure activities (dancing, bowling), indoor work activities (vacuuming & sweeping the floor), outdoor work activities (gardening, washing the car) and recreational sports (golf, volleyball, softball).

You really have hundreds of choices for healthful activities. The key is to find something that you truly enjoy and then stick to it!

I read a statement once that said “we don’t stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing”. This is so true.

As we look at the older population we see that balance is an issue. Maybe it’s because we don’t walk on the railroad tracks anymore or that we don’t try to walk on a raised cement rail or because we stopped jumping on a pogo stick or we no longer ride our bikes. Do you remember walking on stilts? See, we stopped playing so we got old.

Balance starts to decline by the age of 25 and that makes a lot of sense because that’s about the time we start supporting a family and become too busy to “play”. When we notice that our sense of balance is gone, we make excuses not to go for a walk because we might fall. More and more time is spent sitting and not exercising.

As we age it is documented that we lose our strength. Here is where we can say “use it or lose it”. Strength improves our independence allowing us to do many things on our own. When we lose our strength we lose our autonomy.

All too often I hear people remark that “Oh, I can’t do this or I can’t do that.” This attitude will age a person faster than anything. Pretty soon that same negative person won’t even show up to say those words. If that same person would have been able to say “I’ll try” the results would have been positively phenomenal.

Movement is the essence of life; with little or no flexibility we can no longer perform the activities of daily living.

Endurance exercises are those that enhance breathing & heart rate. Endurance seems to be something that declines with age….maybe because we don’t challenge ourselves to try for that extra mile or another 15 minutes of walking, running or bike riding. We need to push ourselves to stretch for that next level of fitness that comes from consistency with determination.

So, looking back we see that strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, & a positive mental attitude are the 5 things that are essential to keeping us young. These five essentials are what make up Strength Training. It has been said that Strength Training is the closest thing we have to the “Fountain of Youth”.

Most gerontologists and epidemiologists breakdown the older population by age, i.e. 50-64 as the older age of youth; the 64-75 as the young old; 75-85 as the older old; 86 plus as the frail old or the old-old; and 100 and older as centenarians.

Physical educators and exercise physiologist differentiate between chronological and physiological age. Chronological refers to the person’s birth date; physiologic or biological age is the physical condition, energy level and the body strength of the individual.

I believe it was Mickey Mantle that was quoted as saying “If I’d known I would live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself”. Let’s start taking care of ourselves today!

Finding Time to Exercise

So why did it take me so long to “just do it?” Probably the way I presented the idea to myself. Notice I used words such as “never” and “already” as in “I’m already sleep deprived.” I kept telling myself it wouldn’t work, that it was a bad idea and until the first time I actually tried it, I secretly believed when the alarm rang, I’d just turn it off and go back to sleep. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy getting up early. Mornings are my best time of day. I’m the most productive in the morning so it makes sense to give myself an extra hour.
I Don’t Have Time to Exercise
Sometimes a small adjustment in how you run your day can help enormously in freeing up some time for things like exercise. “I don’t have time.” I hear that a lot, but if asked, “What’s your favorite TV show?” most people can list a few — hours spent sitting and watching. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some TV, but there’s also no reason you can’t exercise during the commercials.
When I was a kid and it was my turn to clean the house, I made a game out of it. I loved TV, watching probably six or seven hours a day then, so missing a show to clean was not going to happen. So I’d clean during commercials. Today there are over 20 minutes of commercial time during each hour of the show. That’s plenty of time for getting things done. As soon as the show broke for commercial, I’d jump from my chair and dash to wherever I’d left off. I’d bring in laundry and fold it while I watched. I’d iron in front of the TV, I’d bring in piles of miscellaneous debris from other rooms and sort it into piles for where it belonged, then on the next commercial I’d go put things away.
I’d move from one room to the next, carrying things that belonged there with me, and returning with things that did not. Eventually the house was clean, and hadn’t missed my programs.
If you enjoy TV, consider how much time there is available during the commercials and start using it. Whether for exercise or cleaning, or anything else you need to get done: responding to correspondence, studying, paying bills, grooming the cat – there are lots of little chores we need to do, no reason we can’t carry them into our TV room and get them done.
Turn TV Time into “Get Fit” Time
You can turn your TV room into a fitness room easily. A cushy floor mat, if the room isn’t carpeted. A pair of dumbbells or two. Empty bleach jugs make good dumbbells, but be careful if they are only partially full of sand, dirt or water (whatever you use to fill them with something to create the weight), as if the weight shifts during the movement you could injure yourself.
Canned food make good homemade weights. I have half pound and one pound cans, heavier can may be too difficult to hold. Go on a scouting expedition around your house and see what you find that could work as weights then store them behind the couch and start using them. Twice a week or three times, consistently, and you’ll start noticing a change within a short time – usually in a month or six weeks definitely.
My first exercise equipment was a pair of dumbbells, a one pound and a five pound set. You don’t have to have a fully equipped home gym to exercise at home.
Push ups are an incredible exercise, men’s and women’s style. No special equipment needed, just get on the floor and start. Standing squats (pretend you are going to sit in a chair, then stop at about or before chair level, and return to standing straight). There are even books written for exercising on the commercial breaks. I put together a page with a few of the books I’ve found which present this concept such as “The Commercial Break Workout: Trim and Tone Two Minutes at a Time” by Linda Buch and Seth Anne Snider-Copley.
Grab some Extra Minutes and Get Started
I wanted to get up an hour earlier so I could work out in the mornings. When I exercise first thing, nothing else interferes. No matter what comes up, it doesn’t take away from my fitness program. Unexpected calls or invitations, traffic jams, “There’s no bread,” yells my son who still thinks it’s my job to keep the pantry stocked, so I need to run to the store, nothing ruins my day’s plan to ride my bike or lift weights. The consistency of a regular exercise program just makes me feel good – you might find it does the same for you, and if you have had a difficult time finding time – make time. Grab some extra minutes during commercials on TV, get up earlier, find whatever works for you. Write it on your calendar, make a date with yourself, and get started.

Begin a Golf Fitness Program

Golf fitness means something different to everyone. It can mean anything from stretching before you play to a supervised and progressive daily program. For others it means it’s the only way to play golf pain free, and of course there are those that think it is a big waste of time. Whatever your belief, the one thing that can’t be denied is the great benefits of regular exercise!

The benefits of exercise are many and backed by much research. We know it can improve your general health and quality of life, but it can also give you greater pleasure and a competitive edge on the golf course. Improved posture (my favorite topic) and flexibility are necessary keys to developing a repeatable and effective swing. Strength, stability and balance are paramount in producing the power needed for out-driving your friends!

However, the secret ingredient to an effective golf fitness program is your ability to take action, and be committed to working consistently on your program. It takes consistent action to make changes in your body. In some cases, you are making changes to muscles that have been lazy or dysfunctional as a result of many years of bad habits and programming.

Research specific to golf has been conducted over the past several years. One study conducted in 2004 looked at a group of male golfers and the effects of a conditioning program on drive distance. The study looked at their club head speed and driving distance before and after an 8 week training program. The training program consisted of strength training and plyometrics (explosive exercises) conducted 2 sessions per week. All subjects in the exercise group showed a significant increase in both club head speed and driving distance. The control group (non-exercise group) showed no significant improvements. Effect of an 8-Week Combined Weights and Plyometrics Training Program on Golf Drive Performance; The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 59-62.

Consult with a fitness professional:
One concept to understand when considering a golf fitness program is the immense value of finding and working with a professional. Just like taking personal lessons from a PGA teaching professional, you will benefit from consulting with a fitness professional.

I will discuss the process of selecting a fitness professional in a minute, but I have to emphasize the fact that nothing is more beneficial than physically working with a professional that can watch your every move and assess your physical abilities. Our body, specifically the nervous system, and muscular system are great compensators which results in dysfunctional movement patterns. In other words, our body changes over time resulting in weakness, tightness and even pain. The result is difficulty moving into certain positions, such as those needed in a golf swing. A trained professional can recognize poor movement patterns, bad postural positions, and therefore make changes to your program and initiate corrective exercises.

All of the great sports coaches such as John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, and Casey Stengel, all focused on fundamentals when coaching their players. When training your body as we do with golfers it is no different. The PGA teaching professionals always spend time with fundamentals. When training the body to have better posture, improved flexibility, or a stronger core you need to focus on fundamentals. If your body’s muscles do not function correctly from a fundamental perspective any advanced exercise will be a waste of time.

OK now, when searching for a fitness professional, ideally try to find someone that has several years of experience working with golfers. Make sure they have adequate training. For example a licensed athletic trainer (ATC), a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) or a certified personal trainer (CPT), are credentials that make them qualified.

Ask questions regarding their golf experience. Do they play the game? Do they have relationships with teaching professionals? Do they understand the mechanics of the golf swing, as well as swing faults? Also, ask specific questions regarding their approach to fitness. Do they provide a physical assessment? Do they address the different components of fitness (see below)? And, are they experienced in dealing with injuries or chronic problems?

You need to be able to trust your fitness professional, have confidence in their abilities and feel comfortable working with them. When you are satisfied with their answers to your questions, make a decision and go for it.

Components of a Golf Fitness Program:
Posture, I believe is one of the most overlooked areas when it comes to fitness training. An individual’s posture tells a lot about how their body is working and what kind of restrictions there may be when trying to swing a golf club.

When discussing posture it is important to keep in mind that I am referring to more than just sitting up straight, or not having rounded shoulders. The entire body from head to toe was designed to be aligned in a precise manner. The body follows the principles of physics by the way the ends of the bones are shaped, how they connect to each other and how the muscle act upon the bones & joints They are subsequently designed to function and move in specific ways.

When out of alignment or out of muscular balance, your muscular function and movement patterns are limited.
With the golf swing the most common postural problem that contributes to bad positions in the swing is the forward shoulders, forward head & rounded upper back. This slouched position makes it really difficult to get in a good set up position and significantly limits your shoulder turn or what we call thoracic rotation. The shoulder turn into the back swing is dependent upon a good position of the upper back at address. Tight muscles and restrictions in the upper spine prevent the golfer from maintaining good posture in the set up. Ultimately resulting in bad positions during the swing, The bottom line is you need to find a fitness professional that understands posture and its influence on movements specific to golf.

Flexibility/Range of Motion refers to the body’s ability to move the bones and joints to the limits of its designed capacity. However it must be controlled motion, which I will discuss next.

An example of needed flexibility or range of motion is in the hip joint during the golf swing. As you stand in your golf position and swing there needs to be an optimal amount of rotation through both hips. During the backswing (right handed golfer) your right hip should internally rotate because your pelvis is rotating on top of it. If you have tightness in your hip muscles this motion will be limited. And, as we know, limited motion in one joint leads to compensated or excessive motion somewhere else. Subsequently tightness in the right hip may result in locking of the right knee, a reverse pivot and excessive stress in the lower back during your backswing.

Dynamic Stability refers to the body’s ability to stabilize joints or positions during movement. The one area that is most often discussed is core stability. This refers to your ability to stabilize or limit movement in the lumbar spine & pelvic region, an important component of your program.

Dynamic Strength essentially means the same as functional strength. Golf strength training should utilize all planes of motion the body moves in and somewhat golf specific. Isolated strengthening may be appropriate in certain situations but you should mostly strengthen in a dynamic way.

Dynamic Balance is closely related to posture because of the requirements of a balance between muscles and having them function correctly. Your golf professional will work with you in terms of weight shift, balance and the coordinated movements of the swing. The fitness professional may at times address this, but should not get carried away.

Dynamic Power is the actual power that is produced in the movement of the golf swing. One of the key aspects of this power is the good swing that is developed by working with a PGA teaching professional. Power can also be enhanced by first working on the above components and then adding some power exercises. However training power should be the last part of your golf fitness program. I see too many people start with the cool golf specific power exercises with no concern for the fundamentals I talked about earlier.

Cardiovascular Endurance, although not an obvious component for golf, it may be a factor in some cases. You should be able to walk a golf course (may be some exceptions) and generally be in some sort of cardiovascular condition.

Truth About Six Pack Abs

No Such Thing As Spot Reduction

First off, you cannot spot reduce your ab area. That means doing hundreds of crunches and ab work every day will not make your six pack show any faster. If you currently have a layer of fat in your mid-section, that fat is hiding your abs. Your primary focus will be on burning fat to lower your body fat percentage. Once you have burned off the fat, all of your hard work will be ready for display.

Women Have It Harder

Unfortunately, if you are a woman, six pack abs will be somewhat harder for you to achieve. This is because women naturally store more fat than men for the purpose of bearing and nourishing babies. This means you will have to work harder at lowering your body fat percentage. Lowering your body fat percentage should be done with caution as well. A significant decrease in a woman’s body fat can lead to amenorrhea (lack of menstruation.) It occurs very often in female athletes.

More Ab Work Isn’t Necessarily Better

Most people tend to forget that abdominal muscles are just like any other muscle in your body. Overworking them will not create your six pack any faster. Your ab muscles will need the proper recovery time just like any other muscle group you would strength train. Muscles repair themselves and grow larger during recovery time. When you are exercising your abs, just remember to take it slow and focus on isolating each area: upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. Give your abs a break between workouts.

Muscle Burning

If you run or cycle as hard as you can, you start to breathe hard, and suddenly your leg muscles start to burn because your muscles have become acidic. It’s the burning in your muscles that forces you to slow down. Muscles get the energy to move your body from the food that you eat. Carbohydrates are broken down step by step in a chain of reactions to release energy for your muscles. Each step requires oxygen. If you have enough oxygen, the carbohydrates are eventually broken down to carbon dioxide and water that you can blow off from your lungs. However, if you can’t get all the oxygen that you need, the series of reactions stops and lactic acid accumulates in your muscles and spills over into your bloodstream. The acidity in muscles caused by the accumulation of lactic acid is what makes your muscles burn.

When acid is exposed to an alkaline or base, it combines with it to neutralize the acid and form water. What would happen when an athlete takes the base, sodium bicarbonate, before he competes? He would be able to exercise longer if the bicarbonate got into the muscle and neutralized the burning caused by the acid. The authors of this study showed that higher doses of sodium bicarbonate were more effective in preventing burning. This exercise aid is still experimental, so we will have to wait for further research to see if it really works.

On-The-Road Workouts

Push-up

The push-up mimics the bench press and trains the chest, shoulders, triceps, serratus anterior, and even the latissimus dorsi (“lats”). If it has been a long time since you did 100-200 push-ups in a workout, your upper body should be sore tomorrow, even if you can bench press twice your bodyweight.

The Traditional

Place your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart (or slightly wider). Keep your feet together and maintain a neutral spinal alignment (with your head, neck, and back straight). Slowly lower yourself to the floor by bending the elbows. Allow your chest to touch the floor and then push up to return to starting position.

Variations: The closer you keep your hands together, the more you will train your triceps. As you spread your hands out, the movement will stress the chest muscles more, but may also result in a greater stress and pain at the wrist joint (if you spread your hands extremely wide).

Jackknife push-up

This push-up places a greater emphasis on the shoulder muscles (deltoids). Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and keep your feet flat on the floor. Elevate your hips so that the body forms a V-shape. Lower your upper body until the shoulders are even with the elbows and your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push up to return to the starting position.

Variations: You can increase the stress on the deltoids and triceps by taking weight off of your feet and transferring it to your hands. You can do this by elevating your feet. The higher you elevate them, the more stress on these muscles, and the less stress on the pectorals.

Push-Ups With A Plus

This exercise is provided by Lori Gross, CSCS, of Human Performance Specialists, Inc. This is an excellent rehabilitation exercise.

Perform a normal push-up. At the top of the movement, push up maximally, rounding the shoulders and abducting the scapulae. For beginners, this exercise can be done while standing and pushing-up against a wall.

One-arm Elevated Push-ups

This is a twist on the traditional push-up and stresses the serratus anterior muscle. This muscle is located on either side of the body, adjacent to the abdominal area, just below the chest and the lats, and wrap around the rib cage like large fingers.

To stress the right serratus anterior muscle, place the right hand elevated on a 6-10 inch block rather than on the floor. The left hand is placed normally on the floor and hands are slightly greater than shoulder-width apart. Perform normal push-ups but try to push the most through the right arm and use the left side only to stabilize the body. Perform 10 repetitions in this manner and then switch to the left arm.