Our expert: Seana Forbes is a training and nutrition specialist from Germany. She is also the press and media relations officer at Skyrunner® World Series.
Despite it being one of the best ways to keep our bodies healthy – according to the experts, regular exercise can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by 35% – two-thirds of SA adults find it hard to fit exercise into their busy lives. Training and nutrition specialist Seana Forbes shares the most common exercise excuses and how to overcome them…
The No1 Exercise Excuse
‘I don’t have time’
We work, look after our families and see our friends, which leaves little time for ourselves, let alone exercise. But making time is key. “Exercising has many physical and mental benefits, plus it can make you more productive at work and active in your social life,” explains Seana. She recommends scheduling your workouts like you would a work or social event to ensure that you get it done.
‘Exercise is boring’
Running, cycling and swimming aren’t the only exercises out there – in fact, there are thousands of sports to choose from. “Find a workout you enjoy, so it becomes fun, rather than a chore,” suggests Seana. Mixing it up also helps you see results faster, by targeting different muscles. There are plenty of fitness apps available, such as Freeletics (free for iOS/ Apple; Android), which features a variety of workouts suitable for all.
‘I’m not overweight so I don’t need to work out’
Being thin doesn’t mean you’re 100% healthy. In fact, where you store body fat is more important than how much you have. Extra padding around your thighs and hips is usually harmless, but hidden visceral fat, found in your belly and around vital organs, can cause damage. Indeed, one in four slim people has prediabetes and is ‘metabolically obese’ – so you may look healthy, but your insides could tell a different story. “Regular exercise also has several benefits beyond weight loss,” says Seana. “It keeps your heart healthy, strengthens your bones, ramps up your energy and boosts your mood.”
‘I hate exercising alone’
“Many people dislike working out solo, as it’s hard to motivate yourself,” claims Seana. Why not meet friends for a run? Or download an app that lets you join a class from your own home. Try Zwift (free for iOS/Apple; Android) – it’s a virtual running and cycling app that sees you compete on screen with real people indoors. All you need is a treadmill or exercise bike.
‘I’m too old and tired’
If this is your excuse, then there’s more reason to move. “Regular exercise can help slow down and, in some cases, reverse ageing,” says Seana. Increasing our muscle mass as we age is key, so Seana recommends strength and resistance training like lifting weights; or body-weight exercises like squats and lunges. “It helps ease pressure on bones and joints,” she adds. Working out can zap tiredness, too. “A short but intense HIIT (high-intensity interval training) session can inject energy into your day and give you a rush of feel-good endorphins.”
‘Won’t exercise make my menopause symptoms worse?’
“Exercise is essential for women facing menopause,” says Seana. “During this time, women tend to lose muscle mass and gain fat around their stomachs, which can increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.” Working up a sweat can help limit this weight gain and slow down bone-density loss, which is caused by falling oestrogen levels. “If you’re new to exercise, set realistic goals and frequently update them. You’ll be more likely to stick with it and reap the rewards.”
Article compiled by Natalia Lubomirski