health

Exercise avoider? Here are 9 creative ways to get off the couch.

This is the key to exercise motivation.

Ask anyone who doesn’t exercise enough and they’ll tell you that the one thing standing between them and a fixed and passionate exercise regime is time.

I say this with confidence because I’m one of them. When feeling a bit sluggish, I will moan loudly to anyone within earshot that I’d be moving my body so much more, if only, if only, if ONLY I had more time.

You see, organised sport requires regular commitment, which you just can’t make with the erratic hours of my job. And finding an hour for the gym can be so damn tough when the ironing is piling up at home and it’s been an embarrassingly long period since the shower was cleaned. Introduce children (or in my case, pregnancy) into the mix? And the plethora of available excuses increases tenfold.

But that’s all they are. Excuses.

Because time is only one of many barriers standing between any of us and physical fitness. A lack of social support, motivation, and, you guessed it, children, are all recognised barriers for Australians – particularly women – to maintain an active lifestyle.

Funnily enough, there is a common cure for all of these barriers. And it lies in MOTIVATION. The true challenge is finding that motivation; once you’re properly motivated, pockets of exercise time emerge in the diary that simply weren’t there before.

And as the days get shorter, the weather colder and the availability of meals with delicious warm gravy on top increases, motivation can become a foreign concept. A cup of Milo (microwaved so the chocolate goes crunchy on top please), pyjamas, the couch and Netflix seem infinitely preferable to pulling on joggers and facing the outside world.

This year though? I’m not giving into the allure of laziness and the excuse of no time. And neither are you. Together we’re going to team up and get active, starting with these eight creative ways to get moving:

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by VicHealth’s TeamUp (download now via App Store / GooglePlay – or to use online at teamup.com.au). But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

1. Find a buddy who will keep you honest and make a pact.

If you’re anything like me, you’re okay with letting yourself down but you’ll never let a mate down. So grab a friend, compare diaries and lock in one hour every week (preferably early in the morning) where you’ll take a class or go for a walk as a pair.

When your alarm sounds and you’re tempted to cancel so you can roll over and go back to sleep – remember that your buddy may already be on their way there. Are you really going to let them down?

“So grab a friend, compare diaries and lock in one hour every week (preferably early in the morning) where you’ll take a class or go for a walk as a pair.”

2. Add just a little bit more movement to your work day.

Workplaces, particularly offices, are where healthy habits go to die a painful shrivelled up death. Sitting at a desk all day, or sending endless emails late into the evening, won’t do anything for your health.

Take the stairs instead of the lift (five flights of stairs doesn’t seem like much but if you do it every day, it will make a difference). Or, my favourite, make your weekly catch up with colleagues a walking meeting and get outside for 45 minutes instead of sitting in the boardroom.

3. Forget the boring treadmill and try a team sport.

When your exercise routine is the same every day, then of course you’ll start looking for ways to get out of it. Remember how much fun it was to exercise as a kid? You know, back when we didn’t even call it exercise – it was just ‘play’? The social aspect of team sport is an awesome motivator, as well as a great way to make friends as an adult. So put your big girl pants on, start Googling, find a team and get involved.

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“The social aspect of team sport is an awesome motivator, as well as a great way to make friends as an adult.”

4. Match your movement to the ad breaks.

If you genuinely can’t bring yourself to give up television time in favour of fitness – then don’t. Design yourself an exercise regime, which is divided into short 3 minute bursts that you can complete during your favourite show. First ad break is squats, second ad break is planking, third ad break is sit ups, the fourth is burpees and so on. The hour will go so quickly you’ll hardly realise you were exercising at all.

5. Dance it out when you’re feeling flat.

When you’re feeling lethargic in the middle of the day, can’t be bothered to leave the house on Sunday morning or you’re just plain sad – dancing is an even better medicine than laughter. Studies have shown that dancing might improve self-concept and body image and reduce anxiety – winning.

Put on your favourite pump up track and go nuts. If you’re dancing at 100% energy then you’ll be completely shattered within five songs, plus be on a lovely endorphin/Beyoncé induced high.

6. Exercise as part of your commute to work.

I love walking to work but even if you live too far away from the office for walking to be an option, why not get off the bus or tram two stops earlier? The same goes for if you’re driving – stop trying for the superstar park and embrace one that’s a little further away. Cycling is a great choice if you own a bike, or can borrow one. And if none of this appeals, try standing for half your train trip – after all, sitting is the new smoking.

7. Be a friend to the animals (but not the goldfish).

One of the main arguments I make for getting a dog, is that by walking it I’d get all this incidental exercise. Sound familiar? Well, stop whining and borrow a dog (if you don’t have one already). All of us have at least one mate with a gorgeous four-legged friend who would be hella grateful for some extra park time. It will make walking or running more fun, plus earn you some serious friendship points.

“One of the main arguments I make for getting a dog, is that by walking it I’d get all this incidental exercise. Sound familiar?”

8. Organise events that revolve around exercise not food.

Brunch is my favourite meal and also the bane of my not-so-fit existence. For some reason, seeing my friends always seems to revolve around food. Saturday morning brunch, Thursday afternoon coffee, Friday night drinks, Wednesday lunch or Sunday roasts. Instead of falling victim to the food-based-catch-up, why not meet for a walk at the park or take a class together at the gym. (Hey, you can always get an ice-cream afterwards).

9. If you still can’t find your motivation (and you’ve checked behind the couch), download it instead.

There are so many fitness and health related apps available; most of them are free and the rest are only a couple of dollars. Think about what it is that’s missing from your exercise routine (or non-routine as the case may be) and I promise – there’s an app for that. Whether you’re looking for friends to train with, trying to locate local facilities and teams, or if you just want to try out a new activity,  you can download VicHealth’s FREE TeamUp app if you live in Victoria.

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TeamUp, an initiative of VicHealth, is a free app that allows you to locate physical activities happening in your local area.

Available to download via the Apple Store or Google play – or to use online at teamup.com.au – TeamUp is free to use, easy and accessible to all Victorian adults.

From organised activities such as Zumba, netball, pilates, group fitness and jogging groups, to more recreational pursuits such as yoga, biking, walking, and swimming, there are activities for all fitness levels and interests.

It’s a social network for getting active.

Find your Motivation. TeamUp.

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