As I study for my personal trainer’s certification, I continue to be amazed at statistics about who exercises and how much they do or do not. My Cooper Institute Handbook says that we are in one of five stages. We may not be aware that we have a problem or may not be interested in changing. Perhaps we have even tried to change in the past, but we have given up due to reluctance, rationalization, rebellion, or resignation. The second stage of making a habit of exercise is having the intention to change. However, chronic contemplators are people who talk about it, think about it, but either the barriers to exercising are greater than its benefits, or they don’t know how to get started. If you are in this stage, it will last less than 90 days before you move from thinking about it and doing it to just big talk and no walk. Making small changes is the third stage of preparation. These people have a plan and enroll in some type of program. While they may not be regular or consistent, they are moving in the right direction. Confidence and action with a mindset of accomplishing goals is the fourth stage, but it can also be the stage of greatest relapse. Six months of exercising regularly is symptomatic of the action goal setters.
Why do they give up after making this new habit? I think time is the excuse that I hear the most often. However, we all make “time” for what is most important to us! How many people never miss their favorite TV show or take time to recreate? The fifth and final stage is maintenance where someone decides that the benefits far outweigh the barriers, and the relapse rate is the lowest. After five years of exercising on a regular basis, these people are less likely to result in high risk behavior that causes metabolic diseases. I can honestly say that life without exercise would be detrimental to my health, my weight, and my mental state. I want to be part of the 18 – 24% who begin and keep at it for the rest of my life. Whether you choose yoga, walking, running, cycling, swimming, or aerobic dance, remember this quotation, “The only remedy for mental fatigue is physical activity, and the only remedy for physical fatigue is sleep!”