No excuses: alternatives to routine exercise – Part 3 of 3

(Read the first in the series, "Finding balance on your path to well-being.")
(Read the second in the series, "Getting started with an exercise routine.") 
This is the last in a question-and-answer series with Purdue University grad and summer intern Matt Maassel, a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. In this round, we address your concerns about your limitations – or perceived limitations – to getting started with a fitness routine. 
If you’re intimidated by people who can run faster, lift more weight, throw a baseball farther – you name it – get over it. Your personal path to well-being is YOURS and no one else’s. 
There are many sources of inspiration in the world, but the one that fits you best is the one that comes from within your own experience. You can read about some amazing, everyday people and their own inner motivations in a blog by Mark O’Shaughnessy, MD, PPG – Cardiology, titled “One Year, One Healthy Change:” 
  • Hein Wagner, a sightless world adventurer
  • Charlie Fish, who lost 55 pounds and no longer requires the CPAP machine for sleep apnea or insulin or other drugs for his diabetes, and is off his blood pressure and cholesterol medications.
  • Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s mother, Jean, who at age 80, finished her first Senior Marathon in the September 2012 Fort4Fitness.  
What if I am physically unable to exercise due to a medical condition?
  • First, figure out exactly how restricted you are. Then, with your doctor’s approval, come up with a plan that works within your limitations. Like the people in Dr. O'Shaughnessy's blog, always think in terms of what you CAN do instead of what you cannot. There are few medical conditions that would completely eliminate being active in some way. 
  • If you are temporarily very restricted in your level of activity, then focus on nutrition. Learn how to cook. If you know how to cook, learn how to cook with healthier recipes. 
How can I inspire my children to exercise if they aren’t willing?
  • First, make sure that exercise is never used as a form of punishment. Children need a positive outlook on exercise to establish positive lifelong habits. And, just as with adults, motivation needs to come from within.
  • Next, almost all of the types of exercise that benefit kids aren’t even thought of as exercise – think of exercise as just playing and having fun. As adults, we may be naturally inclined to enjoy more mundane activities, but kids need activities that are more stimulating. If you want your kids to be more active, you have to figure out what really resonates with them, and it has to be fun.  
Why has my weight loss plateaued?
  • Plateaus are common, so don’t worry. The reason we plateau with weight loss is the body can adapt to an exercise, making it less effective for weight loss over time. To continue with weight loss, you need to make a change in your exercise. This could mean adding a new variety of exercises, or increasing the intensity of the exercises you are doing. For example, if you use a treadmill, increase the incline. If you are weight lifting, use a different variation of a lift or increase the weight. 
I don’t like running. What else should I do?
  • As I have mentioned before in this series, this is your personal path to health and well-being. Do what you are motivated to do. Any activity that involves frequent movement and gets your heart pumping and lungs working can do the job. Do you like dancing? Gardening? Walking? Do it! 
What should I do if I sit at a desk all day?
  • First, make sure you’re sitting with good posture. 
  • Next, take time to get up and move around. Squat down to the floor. Do anything to get your joints moving. The more you sit, the less mobile you become. 
  • Flex your gluteal muscles throughout the day. When you sit for long periods, your glutes become less active, which puts more stress on the lower back and hamstrings. Flexing your glutes regularly will help "wake them up" so they can do their job! 
  • Check out these desk exercises for your core, legs, arms, chest and back on the Parkview Health YouTube channel.
How can I exercise if I’m traveling?
  • If you travel frequently, it’s probably also true that you’re sitting frequently. As with sitting at a desk all day, it’s important to take opportunities to get up and move whenever you can. Work on having good posture. Flex your glutes. 
  • If your hotel doesn’t have a fitness center, take along a stretch band to simulate some of the movements you achieve during weight lifting. 
So what is YOUR motivation? Share it in the comments below to help inspire others to start moving!

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