Sam hates “no excuses!” talk and finds pleasure in movement far more motivational

‘No More Excuses!’ Not To Exercise, Says The National Institute On Aging. That’s a link I shared on our Facebook recently along with the confession that of all the motivational fitness talk I find “no excuses!” possibly the most annoying.

This is the kind of thing I’m talking about.

Our followers were equally annoyed. Here’s some of their responses:

” I hate it! It’s privileged and doesn’t take into account the mental and emotional and environmental factors that go into why people don’t exercise.”

” These four “excuses” wildly underestimate the complex reasons people may not choose to exercise. It also assumes people don’t know these simplistic solutions. Oh duh-didn’t think of exercising in the morning, oh wait, I have to work and prepare various other vulnerable people who are dependent on me for their day too…oops.”

” It’s a deliberately myopic view of everyone who isn’t you and the 4 people you work out with. It’s also condescending as fuck, assuming the only reason people aren’t exercising is because they are lazy shits and that the speaker of this platitude knows better how to manage someone’s life than the person living that life. “

“Man this article is privileged as heck. Most seniors in my family are on fixed income that barely covers living expenses. They don’t really have the money to sign up for a class or go golfing. “

Others thought that some of the tips were good but that we ought to frame them more positively.

” More positive message like “breaking down barriers to a healthier and happier life” would be so much more effective. “

A personal trainer who follows the page chimed in and said she teaches her clients that the barriers are real. “No excuses!” talk doesn’t make them go away. Instead they sit down and look at the person’s barriers to having time/resources for fitness and brainstorm solutions.

When you plow past the simplistic advice–“Too strapped for time? Try exercising first thing in the morning” there’s actually advice in this article that matches well with a common theme here on the blog–Find a thing you enjoy! When people ask if one exercise is better than another, it often just comes down to which you enjoy. That’s the exercise you’ll do.

Love music? Take dancing lessons, sign up for an aerobics or dance class, or walk briskly or jog and listen to your favorite tunes

Enjoy the outdoors? Play catch with your grandchildren or fetch with your dog, go hiking or rock climbing (but be safe while you do it), or go canoeing.

Like being with others? Join a soccer or basketball league, make friends in an exercise class, or organize a walking group with friends or coworkers.

Want to be on your own? Swim laps, spend an hour at the driving range, bike around your neighborhood, or use an exercise video at home.

Feel the need to multitask? Lift weights while you watch TV, do balance exercises while waiting in line, walk on a treadmill while you listen to an audio book.”

This intrinsic “feels good” motivation isn’t just kinder and gentler than “NO EXCUSES!” it’s also more likely to work. We blogged about that awhile ago.

“It turns out that those who think of exercise in terms of immediate benefits, how it makes us feel, do much better in terms of motivation that works, than those who think of exercise in terms of health and fitness goals. My students all agreed that exercise feels great. They thought if there was a recreational drug that gave you that feeling with no ill health effects they’d be tempted to take it.  Thinking about the feeling is a very effective motivator.

See Rethinking Exercise as a Source of Immediate Rewards in the New York Times.

“Dr. Segar, a psychologist who specializes in helping people adopt and maintain regular exercise habits, is the author of “No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness.” Her research has shown that even people who say they hate to exercise or have repeatedly fallen off the exercise wagon can learn to enjoy it and stick with it.

Though it seems counterintuitive, studies have shownthat people whose goals are weight loss and better health tend to spend the least amount of time exercising. That is true even for older adults, a study of 335 men and women ages 60 to 95 showed.

Rather, immediate rewards that enhance daily life — more energy, a better mood, less stress and more opportunity to connect with friends and family — offer far more motivation, Dr. Segar and others have found.”

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