Leiden Psychology Blog

Tempted to skip your workout today?

Tempted to skip your workout today? by Flickr

When you’re super busy, or tired after a long day at work, is the first thing you cross off your schedule your workout? (“I’ll hit the gym tomorrow instead, I promise!”). Well, that’s exactly what you should not be doing…

The first month of the year is coming to an end. There’s a high chance that you are one of those many people whose New Year's resolution was to work out more often (“I pledge I will hit the gym regularly this year!”). However, chances are that within these few weeks you have already failed to do so (to be exact: it’s an 80% chance, so you are not alone).

Although we all know we should work out, there always seems to be a reason to stay at home and be that couch potato. For instance, the majority of people claim they don’t have the time or energy to exercise, but I’ve heard (and myself come up with) plenty of other (excuses) reasons as well. However, the research literature shows that especially at those moments when you don’t feel up to it, you would actually benefit from breaking into a sweat.

Excuse #1: “I don’t have the time”
There are many advantages of physical exercise; in fact, there are so many that I can barely mention them all here. However, when you think you are too busy to exercise, bear in mind that exercising may actually save you time, as it makes you more productive. That is, it can make you finish your work faster because it enhances your executive functions and cognitive performance, for instance, and gives you energy for your brain. Moreover, the fact that physical exercise lowers your stress levels also pleads in favor of choosing to exercise after a busy day or week, rather than working extra hours or having some couch time (with crisps or popcorn).

Excuse #2: “I’m tired”
Another reason you may want to skip today’s workout is that you are feeling tired. However, although it may seem counterintuitive, you can overcome that by getting up and burning those calories: in the long run, working out helps you feel more energetic and alert, and the resulting good night’s sleep will help you to really fuel up for the next day, too.

Help from an unexpected source
So the recommendation is to work out, especially when you’re feeling busy or tired. However, I realize it may be difficult to break that habit of coming up with excuses not to exercise – even though you know better after reading this blog. And I’m also aware that forming a new habit of exercising regularly may require a considerable amount of will power. Although the internet is full of self-help guides to overcome these issues, there may be an easier solution from an unexpected source: your employer.

The benefits of physical exercise mentioned (and many others) are so prominent that more and more companies nowadays even enable and stimulate their employees to exercise - during working hours. For example, I’ve heard of people running 10K around lunch time with their colleagues (and even their CEO!) each week. And it turns out to be a win-win: studies have shown that exercising during working hours makes the employees happier, which in turn makes them perform better at work. And as a social event together with your colleagues, maybe this would be an extra motivation to get out from behind that desk. So, perhaps a chat with your employer would be a step in the right direction?

What are you waiting for?
There are several reasons you may want to work out and formulated that New Year’s resolution in the first place: maybe you want to lose weight, become or keep fit, or it may even be on your bucket list to run that marathon one day. Whatever your reason, leave off the excuses and get exercising! And the added advantage of starting now is that it will save you stress when you start looking towards the summer...

Add a Comment

Name (required)

E-mail (required)

Please enter the word you see in the image below (required)

Your own avatar? Go to www.gravatar.com

Remember me
Notify me by e-mail about comments