Breaking Down the Psychological Barriers to Regular Exercise
Exercise is one of the most beneficial things we can do for our health. It can help us maintain a healthy weight, improve our cardiovascular health, and even boost our mood. Despite knowing all these benefits, many of us struggle to find the motivation to exercise regularly. Michael Gonzales, in his ChangeThis Manifesto, identifies and addresses the psychological barriers that prevent us from making exercise a priority.
Willingness vs. Desire
Gonzales explains that in order to begin prioritizing time for exercise, we must first have the willingness to change. He uses smoking as an example to illustrate the difference between desire and willingness. When someone wants to quit smoking, they may try different methods like hypnosis, pills, or patches. However, these methods often fail because the person hasn’t yet reached a point of willingness to quit. It’s only when they say to themselves, “I am no longer willing to smoke,” that change becomes possible.
In the context of exercise, this means that we can have all the desire in the world to get fit, but if we’re not willing to make the necessary changes in our lifestyle, we’ll never stick to an exercise routine. It takes a conscious decision to prioritize exercise and make the time for it in our busy schedules.
One of the biggest barriers to exercise is a perceived lack of time. We’re all busy with work, family, and social obligations, and it can be difficult to carve out an hour or two for exercise each day. However, as Gonzales points out, it’s not about finding time – it’s about making time.
He suggests evaluating how we currently spend our time and identifying areas where we can make adjustments. This might mean waking up earlier to squeeze in a morning workout, taking a lunchtime walk instead of scrolling through social media, or cutting back on TV time in the evenings. By making exercise a priority and scheduling it into our day, we can overcome the time barrier and reap the benefits of regular physical activity.
Another common barrier to exercise is a lack of motivation. It’s easy to get excited about starting a new workout routine, but it’s much harder to maintain that enthusiasm over time. Gonzales suggests finding a source of intrinsic motivation – something that comes from within and is deeply connected to our values and beliefs.
For some people, this might mean focusing on the long-term health benefits of exercise. For others, it might mean setting specific goals (like running a 5k or completing a certain number of push-ups) and tracking progress towards those goals. Whatever the source of motivation, it’s important to remember that exercise shouldn’t be a chore – it should be something we enjoy and look forward to.
Finally, Gonzales addresses the issue of worthiness – the idea that we don’t deserve to prioritize our own health and well-being. Many of us feel guilty or selfish for taking time away from work or family obligations to exercise.
However, as Gonzales points out, making our own health a priority is essential for us to be our best selves and fulfill our other obligations effectively. He suggests reframing exercise as an act of self-care and self-love, rather than an indulgence or guilty pleasure.
By breaking down these psychological barriers, we can make exercise a regular part of our lives and reap the countless benefits it provides. It takes willingness, time management, motivation, and a belief in our own worthiness – but the rewards are well worth the effort.