Some people enjoy going to the gym. Nothing is better to a true gym lover than the idea of an empty weight room or a rack full of dumbbells ready for a hard sesh. To others, stepping into an intimidating, air conditioned space filled with sweaty, experienced people who look like they’re ready to join a bodybuilding competition, is their idea of hell.
It can be difficult for many women to find joy in exercise, especially when high-intensity workouts have been recommended as our daily dose. This expectation can intimidate women into believing they might as well just skip the workout, because there’s no way they can achieve 40 squats today.
Surely, it’s possible for all women to embrace exercise and truly enjoy it?
New research, which will appear in the journal BMC Public Health, looked into the ingredients that make women feel happy and successful. In both active and inactive women, they were very similar. Achieving their goals (whatever they are) and being relaxed during leisure time were desired by both parties.
For the inactive women in the study, their overwhelming expectations of exercise stop them from feeling relaxed. These women feel pressured to exercise for health reasons or to lose weight, and so they avoid it during their down time. Many of the women shared the idea that ‘valid’ exercise must be intense.
“Their beliefs about what exercise should consist of and their past negative experiences about what it feels like actually prevents them from successfully adopting and sustaining physically active lives.” Says Michelle Segar, director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center.
Why then, in a world of Zumba, aerial yoga and aqua aerobics are some women still viewing exercise as a chore rather than something that can be enjoyed and incorporated into a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle. The study has pointed to those intense 30 minutes a day recommendations as a cause for many women feeling demotivated.
“There are newer recommendations that permit lower intensity activity in shorter durations most people don’t know or even believe it,” said Michelle.
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It’s important for us women to stop demonizing exercise and assuming it’s boring and difficult. There isn’t one way of exercising and the gym isn’t the only option. Personally, I struggle with finding the motivation to stick to a routine when I’m in the gym, so I opt for fitness classes like Zumba or legs, bums and tums. Sometimes having somebody there to tell you what you need to do can be all the motivation you need.
Another easy way of making exercise enjoyable is to bring a friend or family member along with you. Yes everyone says it, but it’s true. A study from the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University found that married couples who worked out separately had a 43% dropout rate over a year compared to a 6.3% dropout rate amongst couples who went together. Work together, stay together.
When it comes to leading a healthy life, any movement is better than no movement and finding an exercise you enjoy is the key to a healthy, active lifestyle.
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