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Your Exercise Personality: Expert Tips for Procrastinators and More!

Whether you think exercise is boring, daunting or just too time-consuming, our experts have a solution tailor-made to fit you.


It’s time to get moving! Can’t do it, you say? Maybe tomorrow? Nay, nay, say our experts. The time is now!

We asked two fitness folks to help us all get motivated—no matter our personality (cough, excuse, cough).

“Exercise … blech.”

McMillian: I don’t know anyone who says, “Man, I can’t WAIT to brush my teeth!” every morning. But we all get up and do it because we understand the consequences if we don’t.

You need to take a hard look at what activities do interest you. If you like to dance, choose a dance class. If you enjoy watching acrobatics, try gymnastics. Like skiing? Hire a trainer with experience in strength and conditioning for the sport. Traveling? Begin a cardio and strength program on a schedule designed to peak at the start of your venture to Machu Picchu.

But bottom line: You might not ever come to relish your training time. I’ve told many clients of this personality type that they simply need to embrace the need to complete some tasks for their personal health and benefit—even if it’s not always a party.

May: Find activities that are convenient, comfortable and fun so you’ll stick with it. Break exercise into small sessions; find a partner; try new activities and new routes; set small, achievable goals and reward yourself for reaching them to make exercise more enjoyable.

“I don’t have time!”

May: If you’re too busy for exercise, you’re too busy.

The reality is that it will only take one-forty-eighth of your whole day to exercise for 30 minutes. Most people waste a lot more time than that watching TV or surfing the Internet.

Besides, you probably make time for grooming routines like bathing, putting on makeup and washing your clothes. Exercise will do even more for your appearance. Plus, it’ll increase your stamina so you’ll become more productive and feel great. Who knows? A little exercise may help you save time in the long run!

McMillian: You don’t have time? Really? Then I guess you’ll be too busy to lie in the hospital recovering from that heart attack, or check your glucose levels and give yourself insulin injections for diabetes, or work with your speech therapist after that highblood- pressure-induced stroke.

Smarten up. Carve out space in your home or office that permits you to stretch and execute some pushups and crunches; put in a treadmill; map out 1-, 2- and 3-miles distances on the streets around your home or office; or join a facility with operating hours that match your free time.

“I have so far to go!”

McMillian: “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” Start by determining your final goal; then break down the steps.

Have progress check-ins every month or few weeks. Maybe your goal is 5 to 10 pounds per check-in. Perhaps it’s a dress or pants size; certain number of miles completed; consecutive minutes walked, run, biked, or swum; or number of reps performed. Any failure to meet a particular, small milestone is recoverable without much bother.

May: If you don’t choose to start somewhere, don’t be surprised when you’re still out of shape months from now. On the other hand, if you choose to start this week by increasing your movement and physical activity, little by little, you will become leaner, stronger, more energetic and healthier.

Physical activity doesn’t have to be hard or hurt to be beneficial. Simply increasing your activity throughout the day really adds up. Taking the stairs, walking a little faster and working or playing more actively every day is a great place to start. Any activity over your usual level counts, so be on the lookout for opportunities to move more.


“I must exercise 60 minutes a day, with my heart rate at this amount, plus this much weight lifting, plus ... oh forget it!”

May: Perfectionism leads to all-or-nothing thinking. Quitting your exercise program because you missed a day (or week), or believing you have to exercise for 60 minutes, five days a week or not at all makes as much sense as eating the whole bag of cookies because you ate three.

No person and no schedule is ever perfect, but thinking you have to do it perfectly will derail you every time. In order for physical activity to become part of your life, be as consistent but as flexible as possible.

McMillian: Knock it off ! For this extreme type- A personality, chances are you have everything in your life organized and squared away … everything but your fitness. And it’s making you crazy.

Well, do what you best and get on the right track.

For starters, check your facts: Yes, you need vigorous activity for about 45 to 60 consecutive minutes on most days of the week. Yes, you need to include both strength and cardio work for all-around benefit. No, it doesn’t require as much complicated planning or procedures as you’ve probably fabricated.

For 45 minutes, four days a week, do something that involves your arms and legs and has you moving at your perceived level of moderate to moderately high intensity. You should begin to see tangible improvements.

Don’t get bogged down in some abstract concept about what exercise has to be. Just find an enjoyable activity, and be sure to incorporate work that involves all your limbs for strength; your abs for support, stability and endurance; and your heart for aerobic endurance.

“Next week will be better ... or next month ...”

McMillian: Crises and ongoing obligations don’t have a place in your datebook; you simply give them the attention they need.

Treat your training time even better: Put it in the schedule. Your appointment with yourself cannot be broken. Better to take care of your health and fitness before you become the crisis on someone else’s calendar.

2008-03-your-exercise-personality-2.gifMay: It’s easy to put off starting an exercise program if you have negative thoughts and feelings about it. Sometimes these come from past experiences like being chosen last for teams; having boring exercise routines; or feeling discomfort or pain from doing too much, too fast. Some people only exercise when they’re trying to lose weight, so they think of it as a punishment for overeating.

However, the past does not predict the future. This time, focus on all the great things physical activity does for you and how wonderful you feel. Find fun activities that suit your personality and lifestyle. Most importantly, start slowly and allow your body to adjust gradually and comfortably.

It will be different this time if you think it will be.

Last updated and/or approved: April 2008.
Original article appeared in March/April 2008 issue.

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