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What's Your Exercise Excuse?

Forget excuses! Start a list of reasons why you want to exercise

'I Have a Bad Back'

Some people do have physical limitations. Price recommends concentrating on the parts of you that do work. She had two terrible auto accidents, both of which damaged the same leg. She went to the gym and did everything she could do with one leg and two arms.

"By working out, I felt like less of a victim," Price says.

If you do have chronic knee, back, or shoulder problems, though, she recommends asking a trained physical therapist for appropriate ways to work out. In fact, WebMD, like all responsible authorities, recommends consulting a physician about your exercise program once you have sent the excuses packing.

'I Am Too Old'

Use it or lose it! "If you don't use your muscles, you will lose them -- and as you get older, you will lose them at a faster pace," Price says. "If you want to stay independent, you need to exercise."

Still, many people, especially women, she says, think that once you get past age 50, it's too late to make a difference in your health by exercising. An article in the May 2003 Journal of the American Medical Association, however, suggested that starting to exercise or pumping up a program at mid-life lengthens life spans of older women.

Almost 10,000 women were studied over 10 years. Compared with sedentary women, those who increased their physical activity had a 48% reduced risk of dying. What were the newly active women doing? Nothing so hard: They were walking. For the newly active women, 8.2 miles a week brought a positive change. For those stepping up their routines, the average was 9.3 miles a week. So it's truly never too late to become active.

'I Won't Look That Different'

"You can't really spot-reduce," Price says, "but you can tone, refine, and shape." Of course, aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart rate up, also burns fat and increases strength. You also burn fat at a more rapid pace afterward, even while sleeping or talking on the phone.

A recent study at Duke University Medical Center also showed that exercise can reduce harmful cholesterol in the blood weeks after you stop exercising, indicating that your body adapts to exercise and becomes more efficient and healthier. The more intense the exercise, the more lasting the results.

So, while you may not look 100% different, Price says, you will be different. And because of the effort, you may have a more positive feeling toward yourself when you catch a glimpse in the mirror.

'Exercise Will Interfere With Cocktail Hour'

Surely you don't need an expert to take that excuse apart. If you need unwinding time with friends, start making friends at the gym, spot each other on the machines, or walk with a buddy.

"Do something -- anything -- that gets you off your rocker!" exclaims Price. Off our rocker? What did she mean by that?

Kimiecik puts it more simply. The "shoulds" (to lose weight, prevent disease, live longer, feel better) are never as powerful as the excuses not to exercise and don't work for most people. You need to spend time thinking about why you personally want to exercise more. Make your own list of reasons to do it, rather than not to do it."

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Reviewed on July 13, 2004

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