The Sedentary Lifestyle

Some people have an inner desire to go for a run or a walk, ride a bike, or just get outside and play, while others prefer to stay inside and read a book, watch TV, cook, or eat a delicious meal.

You can help someone learn to, well, tolerate exercise.

Although neither person is better than the other, there is one lifestyle that is clearly a healthier choice.

So what can be done for those who lead a sedentary lifestyle that may be creating unhealthy circumstances?

Here are five tips to help get them up and moving:

1. They will not like your routine.

I learned several years ago as a personal trainer that not everyone enjoys feeling sore the next day. One client who was inactive appeared quite fit. She asked for a rigorous leg-training routine for the first session. I gave her exactly what she asked for, and she never returned. Her friend later informed me she was so sore from the routine she was not willing to go through it again!

2. Remember that they hate exercise.

Asking someone who clearly hates to exercise to run on a treadmill for 30 minutes is futile. Remember, exercising is more effective when the brain is fully engaged and the body feels exhilarated. Without stimulating the muscles to work, exercise is not as effective. Find something enjoyable that encourages movement. Window-shopping or mall-walking is not a good idea because there are so many temptations to stop walking (eating, shopping, etc.). Try going to a zoo and chart each animal you will see or to a botanical garden and plan the path to walk. Visual stimulation is helpful to keep one’s motivation up to finish the walk.

3. Allow them to motivate you.

Give a less-active person the opportunity to see you struggle a little by getting out of your own comfort zone and allowing him or her to help you through an exercise. One other client only wanted to walk/jog rather than lift weights. Lifting weights for her was torture, but she enjoyed being outside. Further, when I run, I turn my iPod on and go. However, this client wanted to talk about diet, children, work, etc. This made the exercise difficult for me because I wanted to take off and listen to my music. She convinced me to enjoy the conversation and actually take time to talk about the stress and joy in my life–something my body probably needed more than another stressful competition to see how fast I could go!

Don't be a scary fitness coach.

4. Teach patience.

Remember that sedentary people generally become discouraged if they do not see immediate results. This is why infomercials are so effective. It is amazing how many people still buy weight-loss gimmicks like vibrating belts that supposedly will produce rock-hard abs or a 5-minute ab routine that helps them lose 6 inches in 3 weeks. Teach patience through small achievements. Oftentimes you can teach people to trade off what they love for short bursts of exercise. “OK, if you want to read that book, why not download it and listen to it while you walk?”

5. Accept where they are in the process.

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