Are you too self-conscious to exercise outdoors? Stay inside!
The research is in. According to a new study released from MIND, a UK mental health organization, 90% of women over the age of 30 are uncomfortable exercising outside.
The findings suggest that women are too self-conscious and embarrassed about their bodies or their abilities to be seen exercising in public. As a result, many women go to extremes, such as exercising in the dark or skipping doing any activities.
The findings make total sense. What doesn't make sense is that the authors of the study suggest exercising outdoors anyway. That may not be the best answer. It is embarrassing to exercise in front of others when you feel fat, uncoordinated or intimidated. Forcing yourself to get out and move regardless of those feelings can worsen the anxiety and lower your self-confidence, which can make it even harder to attempt again. How Dieting Can Lead To Weight Gain
To feel better about yourself, you need positive experiences that leave you feeling more confident, not less. Much like for the women who are embarrassed to go to the gym because of their size or fear of not knowing how to use the equipment, there is a better way to start exercising that feels safer and more comfortable. Very often that is at home, indoors or in a private place where you can't be seen. There is nothing wrong with that.
There is also nothing wrong with starting to move by taking baby steps, instead of feeling you have to get in a certain amount of exercise. Just the word exercise is overwhelming and intimidating to most women. Exercise conjures up images of work, sweating, feeling inadequate, pain and failure for many people. Often, that is based on their past experiences and the rigidity of fitness guidelines. Lifestyle: Hate Going To The Gym? Watch This!
It is time to let people feel comfortable breaking the rules of exercise and to focus instead on doing what feels liberating and good to both their bodies and their minds. Instead of feeling pressure to exercise or get outdoors, you can try doing something active indoors for a few minutes that leaves you feeling better when you are done.
I've worked with women who have chosen a wide variety of activities to get them started. Some did different types of dancing movements to some music. Some got out their Wii or mini trampoline. Others already had gym equipment at home and opted to use it again. The rest used video tapes or tuned in to the fitness channel on their TV. A couple of my clients decided to go up and down their stairs a few times. Many of them mixed it up to add in variety. There are endless options.
Each started out doing just a few minutes and they felt good about accomplishing that. They also, to their amazement, noticed that they felt better afterwards. Their feelings of achievement motivated them to do a bit more, and with every increase they accomplished they wanted to see how much more they could do. No one was forcing them. There were no set guidelines. They were listening to their bodies and their inner motivators, and the more they did, the more they could do and wanted to do. Health Help: What Does 'Eating Well' Really Mean?
Before long, they were surprising themselves with their new abilities, stamina, self-confidence and weight loss. Eventually they were each ready to take their activities to the next level. Some wanted to go to the gym and others wanted to be active outdoors. Breakup With Brunch! 10 Easy Ways To Lose Weight As A Couple
A few, like myself, decided to do more at home. I have my own story of avoiding exercising in public. I was humiliated for my lack of ability and my weight in grade school, so naturally, I was cautious about setting myself up for more embarrassment as an adult. When I did exercise, which was infrequent during my twenties and thirties, I did it mostly at home. When I finally began exercising on a regular basis in my forties, I again did it at home in my basement away from public view. I still prefer exercising at home by myself, so I fall into the statistics of this study. But I don't do this because of low self-confidence. I do it because it suits me and my schedule ... and I don't feel badly about this. I don't need to exercise outdoors.
When you are ready, having given yourself a chance to build your self-confidence in private, you may or may not want to get out in public. You need the chance to exercise in your own way, without rules, expectations or feeling vulnerable to criticism – even if it is your own. Stop forcing yourself to do anything you aren't comfortable doing, until such time as you are ready and willing to do so. Can Fatty Foods Cause Couples To Fight More?
For more tips on how to feel good in your body and exercise on your own terms, get a free e-book on how to Feel Your Personal Best from our expert.
To Read More YourTango Content: