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Overcoming inertia

Definition of inertia: the tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest or of a body in straight line motion to stay in motion in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force.

So, when it comes to exercise, it can be really hard to establish a regular exercise routine when you haven’t been doing so.  Once you get over that hurdle and start exercising regularly, it becomes easier to keep doing so…  So how do you resist inertia and get your body moving? I read a really interesting article in Lifetime Fitness’ “Experience Life” magazine from May 2009.  They list the 2 main reasons why people resist exercise : (1) barriers and (2) excuses.

Barriers consist of physical limitations (i.e. you just had surgery) or the inability to find a safe, conveinent place to exercise.  An excuse is an “internal” barrier, or the reason you give for not making time to exercise.  In most cases, not exercising comes down to excuses (vs. barriers).  What are the underlying causes of us making excuses to not exercise?  Here is what the article had to say:

(1) Low self esteem : In other words, subconsciously you don’t feel that you matter enough to merit this kind of time and energy investment.  Some people may feel self-conscious about going to the gym, thinking that they don’t look “fit” enough to go.

(2) Perfectionism : Many women have successful careers and excel in other areas of their life, and are hesitant to do something that they might not excel at.  Or, you have in your mind what a “perfect” workout should look like (i.e. 30 minutes of running three times a week, along with 30 minutes of strength training twice a week).  And if you think that you will fall short of this goal, then you don’t end up doing anything at all.  In other words, “it’s all or nothing”.

(3) Martyrdom : Many moms can fall into this category.  Your list of priorities include your job, your kids, volunteering, housework, etc… everything but you.  What moms and others who find themselves in this position should remember is this: “When you fall too low on your own priority list, you’ll naturally start feeling sorry for yourself, resentful, even trapped. This feeling of martyrdom – combined with lowered vitality – can rob you of the pleasure you take in life, making the idea of exercise seem totally out of reach.”

So, what does the author of the article suggest?  Keep an exercise journal.  The first thing you should do is write down WHY you want to exercise.  In other words, what do you want to get out of exercise? Is it increased energy, better metabolism, or the ability to walk up hills without getting winded, etc?  After that, you should set specific (and obtainable!) exercise goals for the week.  If you are currently doing nothing, then setting a goal of 5 4-mile runs during the week is probably not realistic.  Set goals that you can achieve!  Then, throughout the week, log your activity along with notes about how you felt during and after the exercise.  Write down what went well and what didn’t.  This can help you avoid pitfalls in the future, and better pinpoint what kinds of exercise (and what times) work well for you.

Sharing your exercise log with friends or members of a support group can help even more! Accountability and support can go a long way to helping you overcome inertia.

One Comment

  1. Bill

    You said it! Hardest inertia to overcome is dragging out of bed to work out… everyone needs a special mental reminder or inspiration they can think of right at that moment, to get them over the hump.

    Once you break through, you’re good to go!

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