Excuse-Proof Your Exercise Plan

We all do it, even me, Prevention's fitness editor: We blow off working out. We don't have time. (That's my big excuse since having a baby.) We don't like doing it. We're intimidated. Or it just doesn't seem worth all the effort.

Well, here are tricks for getting past those common excuses. Exercise can be simpler (and feel easier) than you ever imagined.

Excuse: It doesn't feel good.
Solution: Do a cool-down. Finishing your workout with 5 minutes of easy activity can make it more enjoyable, according to a study by Britton W. Brewer, PhD, of Springfield College in Massachusetts. "People's last impression of exercise is the one that lingers," he says. "With a cool-down, you leave feeling the exercise was easier, so you're more likely to do it again."

Excuse: I'll look silly.
Solution: Forget perfection. Exercise is not a Broadway performance. "Women put such pressure on themselves," says Carol Gallagher, PhD, author of Going to the Top (Penguin, 2001). "Learning to feel okay with and laugh at little mistakes is good for you." Walk, dance, enjoy yourself—without worrying about how you look. Bonus: You burn more calories when you're not very good at something!

Excuse: I don't have time.
Solution: Count the small stuff. "Life is never all or nothing, especially in exercise," says Dr. Gallagher. A 10-minute walk is always better than nothing.

After I had my baby last year, I had to tell myself this over and over again. Now my workouts are more casual. Forget changing into exercise clothes; I just slip on my sneakers for a quick walk around the block with 1-year-old Jacob on my shoulders. And lifting him overhead 10 to 12 times when he's cranky is a great arm workout—and it always gets him smiling!

Excuse: I'm not getting results.
Solution: Try an activity that works both your upper and lower body at the same time: step aerobics, swimming, pole walking. You'll boost your calorie burn without feeling like you're working any harder.

Excuse: I've tried it before.
Solution: Shift your thinking. "You achieve what you focus on," explains Dr. Gallagher. "So instead of focusing on what you didn't do, concentrate on the times you did exercise. It's more empowering and proof that you can succeed."

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