Dentists, like anyone else, know that it’s important to stay fit. And yet how many of us tell our physicians that we want to be healthier, but (fill in the blank yourself) gets in the way of exercise. Do we believe our patients when they say they have no time to floss, or that it is too difficult? Didn't think so! Adopting a healthy lifestyle is a no-brainer if you want to feel better, look younger and live longer.
So why do so many of us put off exercise? Let’s challenge 10 common excuses cited by the Employee Assistance Program and Zenhabits.com:
- I don’t have time. Make time. Keep it simple. Try exercising just five minutes a day. If you can’t go outside for a brisk walk, try doing some pushups, sit-ups, squats or lunges somewhere in the office. Take the dog for a walk yourself instead of nagging your children or hiring a dog walker. Start with something easy. Once you’ve learned to fit it into your day, consider expanding to 10 minutes. And so on . . .
- I have kids. Play with them. Take them to the park. Combine exercise and bonding time . . . it’s fun and healthy.
- Dentistry takes up all my time and energy. All it takes is a couple minutes. Working out will energize, unwind and de-stress you if you make the time. If your schedule permits, block off 10 more minutes at lunch, and walk around the block.
- I’m too tired. Lack of exercise makes you more tired. Working out refreshes you. Did you try that 10 minute walk suggested in #3? It’ll perk you up more than a 2 pm caffeine break!
- I’m sick or injured. It’s one thing if you’re really ill, with a fever or serious medical condition. In those situations, rest is better than exercise. The same applies to serious injuries. Minor ailments are a different story. Most of us can still exercise with the lesser illnesses and/or injuries we use as excuses.
- The gym is too expensive (or too far way). You don’t need to join a gym to exercise. Work with what you have. Walk or run outside. Do bodyweight exercises indoors—at home or in the office. Free yoga and other instructional videos are available online.
- It’s just too hard. Don’t strain yourself . . . start easy, with five minutes of walking or five pushups. If that’s too hard, then start with two minutes of walking and two pushups. Take baby steps and start small. Gradually progress as your body builds endurance.
- I’m not good at it. No one is good at it when they start out. You have to learn, and everyone has to start somewhere. The most important thing is getting started. Remember how long it took you to place that first occlusal restoration? Bet you’re faster and better now. Exercise is exactly the same—the more you do, the better you become.
- The weather is crummy. Don’t let the elements limit you. Have an indoor and an outdoor plan. Even if your indoor plan exists only as a back-up to your outdoor regimen, it’s a good option to have.
- I'm not motivated. Motivation is a mindset. You can find it in knowing that moving your body can be fun, exhilarating and age defying . . . and that a sedentary lifestyle will actually hurt you.