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Kevlar for the Mind: Defeat your brain's exercise excuses

Oct. 31, 2013 - 07:20PM   |  
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Excellent physical fitness is as important to the service member as weapons proficiency, skills in combat casualty care, and knowledge of military customs and regulations. A reduced fitness level can negatively affect anything from performance of day-to-day military duties to success of combat operations.

Excuses, or what I refer to as “exercise killers,” lurk in the recesses of the minds of even the most dedicated exercisers. They’re ready to take out any thought or behavior intended to motivate you. These activity assassins are plentiful, accurate and can be lethal to any genuine attempt at hitting the gym or pavement.

If you are going to be successful in maintaining your physical fitness, it’s important to be aware of these excuses. Below are some of the more common ones people use to talk themselves out of getting off the couch.

■ “I’m too busy.” Even the busiest personcan find 20 to 30 minutes in the day to exercise. Consider that the average person watches 34 hours of television each week, or around five hours a day. If you exercise 30 minutes a day for four days a week, that still leaves you 32 hours to sit in front of the boob tube. Even if you watch only 10 hours a week, that still gives you eight hours to watch your favorite shows.

■ “I’m too tired now; I’ll exercise later.” This is a very powerful excuse. It’s highly effective because you avoid the guilt of not exercising with a “promise” that you will later. The problem is that those promises often go unfulfilled. The truth is you’ll have more energy after you exercise.

■ “Exercise is boring.” It’s true that your exercise routine can get stale after a while. That’s why it’s important to keep things fresh. Instead of only jogging or lifting weights, try swimming, bicycling, hiking or indoor rock climbing. There are dozens of physical activities that can build both strength and endurance. Regardless of which ones you choose, the important thing is to keep your exercise routine interesting.

■ “I need my sleep.” Sleep is very important, but so is exercise. Like sleep, you need to schedule exercise into your daily routine.

Exercise killers are powerful, and there are many more out there than the ones listed above. To increase or maintain your current level of physical fitness, become aware of the excuses you use. Get out of your head, lace up and get moving.

Bret A. Moore is a clinical psychologist who served in Iraq. Email kevlarforthemind@militarytimes.com. Names and identifying details will be kept confidential. This column is for informational purposes only. Readers should see a mental health professional or physician for mental health problems.

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