Henry Lew Yuen Foong, Senior Psychologist at Singapore General Hospital gives tips on how Singaporeans can overcome the common barriers to exercise.
According to the National Health Surveillance Survey, the percentage of Singaporeans who exercise increased from 20 per cent in 2001 to 22.4 per cent in 2007. However, various barriers to exercise were found. The top three barriers to exercise were, “No time” (54.6 per cent), “Too tired” (12.1 per cent) and “Too lazy” (11.6 per cent).
Top reasons for not exercising and how to overcome them
Here are five tips on how to overcome common barriers to exercise, according to findings from SGH’s
1) I have no time
Change your perception. The recommended exercise duration (150 minutes) represents only about 1 per cent of your time in a week. Prioritise what is really important in your life. Use time management skills to schedule exercise during your week.
If you can’t find a block of 30 minutes in your day, break up your exercise time into two periods of 15 minutes. Include physical activities that you can perform as part of your daily routine. For example, you could walk for 15 minutes after lunch.
2) I’m too tired
Schedule exercise at the time of the day that you feel most fresh, typically at the beginning of the day. Tiredness that prevents us from exercising at the end of the work day is mostly mental fatigue. After exercise, you will actually feel much refreshed.
3) I have family obligations
Ask family members to help out with family obligations (e.g., babysitting, household chores) so you can make time for exercise. Another suggestion is to involve family members, so that you can spend time together and exercise as well. You can also exercise at home or during lunch breaks, so that you do not need to take time away from home.
4) I’m too lazy / I don’t have the willpower
Reminding ourselves that our family, colleagues and friends depend on us to be healthy can help us sustain motivation to exercise. Whenever you notice you’re having negative feelings about exercising, say “STOP!” in your mind then use positive statements, such as “Let’s do it” or “Stay focused”. Even a mantra in the form of a single word like “Focus” or “Go” can be helpful.
5) I don’t like exercise
Choose a fun activity to develop your liking for exercise (e.g. frisbee, tennis, etc.). Include a variety of exercises to avoid boredom. For example, you could try trekking and brisk walking instead of just walking on the treadmill.
Read on for tips on overcoming the barriers of exercise.