Getting into exercise can be intimidating … but it doesn’t have to be! Check out this guest post from Sharon Freeman on how to overcome exercise shyness, and get started on building a better you!
Women are shrinking violets when it comes to exercising outdoors.
According to British non-profit Mind, nine out of 10 women refrain from outdoor physical activity due to low self-esteem coupled with high self-consciousness. They tend to exercise late at night, if not pass up entirely.
Mind’s findings back up a report by Deadline News contending that more and more Scottish women are patronizing 24-hour gyms to exercise at ungodly hours when crowds are sparse.
Psychologists have long compared the effects of outdoor exercise to those of antidepressants, which are used in treatment of anxiety and mild or moderate depression. But it can be hard to drive this fact to women, especially those who are stubborn.
Surveying 1,450 women aged over 30, Mind estimates that two out of three women feel conscious about their body shape when exercising in public. Sixty-percent of respondents feel nervous about their bodily reactions to exercise e.g. blushing, sweating and farting, as well as how their movements look like to others.
To cope with such insecurities, more than half of respondents admitted to exercising late at night or in the early morning hours. Nearly two-thirds prefer locations where they are least likely to meet people they know.
Hugh Mullan, who runs an all-day and all-night gym in Glasgow, was initially surprised by the late-night turnout in his facility. But he eventually figured this phenomenon.
“What we find is that a lot of women in particular are self-conscious and the idea of a 24-hour gym where they can come either early morning or late at night when it is quieter is definitely something that appeals to them,” he said.
The question is – are you one of these women? Do you feel shy exercising around other people? Conquer your fears with these tips:
1. Try changing your mindset. Resolve to improve your health and practice ignoring your negative thoughts. Motivate yourself to exercise by thinking of family and friends, many of whom would want to see you live a long, happy, and disease-free life.
2. Get some company. Exercise with a friend. He or she can give you moral support and help you commit to your goals. There is strength in the proverbial numbers.
3. Enroll in a beginner’s program. To minimize feelings of embarrassment, take a class tailored to your fitness level.
4. Practice at home. Do your moves in front of a mirror, if only to prove you don’t look stupid. Doing your moves before you hit the gym also serves two other purposes. First, you improve your form. Second, you can plan what workouts to perform at the gym. (The Internet, books and magazines are rife with free workout ideas.)
5. Skip the gym entirely. The money you cough up for months-long membership fees and travelling to the facility might be better spent on home equipment. You can work out in your own time, at your own pace, and without a trainer to micromanage you.
6. Don’t forget dumbbells. In addition to resistance equipment, dumbbells are important to activate stabiliser muscles, resulting in muscle mass gain and enhanced metabolism. Start with light weights and work your way up; lifting heavy weights too soon only leads to torn muscles.
7. Some exercises can be done at home anyway. Jumping jacks, crunches, and band pulls can all be done in the comfort of your home. They are the perfect cop-outs from exercising outside.
8. Run inside. If you’re not ready to jog outside yet, try doing it indoors. The trick is to run in place as fast as you can for 10 minutes. But you can always invest in a treadmill for your home.
When you’re overweight or obese, you may feel being excluded by society because of your condition. But you aren’t. Mind’s survey underscores the fact that 90 percent of women, fat or thin, can empathise with you.
Even if other women don’t share your timidity, choose to ease yourself into a healthy attitude of not caring about what others think. With your health on the line, strive to move just a bit every day. For now, it is better that you’re exercising in the wee hours than not at all.
Just remember: Don’t look pretty to exercise, exercise to look pretty.
Sharon Freeman is a fitness specialist writing about companies like North Shore Health and Fitness