You’re not alone. Less than one-third of Americans exercise regularly.
There is emerging research that indicates that the lack of your motivation may be attributed to what nutritionists are now calling, “exercise resistance.” We have all heard how exercise contributes to improved health — reducing risks of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease; increasing brain function; helping with depression and anxiety; and even sexual performance at home. But, why are people so reluctant to exercise?
According to Karen Collins, there are two type of resistance: Unconscious Resistance applies to folks who create goals, begin an exercise regime, and then sabotage it and quit. Active Refusal deals with someone who experiences anxiety and resentment when exercise is recommended. Researchers suggest that individuals have experienced some very painful memories associated with exercise.
There are several reasons for the resistance. Memories of feeling like a “klutz” and being picked last for teams can haunt an individual for years. Sexual abuse may be another reason for exercise resistance. Multiple weight loss failures, embarrassment, or even viewing exercise as punishment for overeating or excessive weight gain may “block” an individual’s plan to get moving and have fun again.
As a teenage, I remember getting stomped on and kicked in the head by a football coach. The event was so devastating that it took years to play organized sports again and even get into the gym. The day that it happened, I told my parents that the coach cut me from the team. Years later, they would learn that I didn’t get axed, I actually punted my helmet and walked off the team.
That single event was so humiliating and shameful.
The key is to get moving. But how? For those that have been exercise resistant and are ready for a fresh new start, the best ways to become more comfortable with movement again include:
- Reflecting on the roots of aversion to exercise may provide some powerful answers to formulate a new and sustain response in meeting your goals;
- Understanding and acknowledging the resistance helps in moving forward;
- Removing the association between exercise and weight loss may increase the fun associated with increased activity and movement; and
- Focusing on the joy of movement by participating in fun, unstructured, non-competitive activities, such as dancing, gardening, playing catch with a dog, and even taking walks in the neighborhood may change the ‘E’ word from exercise to enjoyment.
Overcoming the resistance to exercise may help you to find the joy in it.
Reference: Karen Collins, M.S., R.D., C.D.H.