Researchers estimate 1 in 5 adults will drop out of an exercise program. Time remains the most common reason for drop outs, but many participants state lack of improvement. This frustration is understandable given the individual’s commitment of time, energy, and money toward their health and fitness goals. The reasons for lack of improvement are numerous and specific to the individual. In our Boulder Physical Therapy and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinics we have found the following top 5 reasons for lack of improvement.
Realistic Expectations – in our current fast, cheap, and easy many exercise participants expect rapid improvements after starting an exercise program. These gains can initially come quickly as our body’s rapidly adjust to the positive stressors of exercise, but quick gains often give way to slower progress. In addition, while just about any exercise will help a sedentary individual, as our body becomes trained it requires more specific and prescriptive exercises to reach our fitness goals. If your goal involves weight loss understand even the most vigorous workouts burn approximately 500 calories per session. A reduction of 3500 calories is needed to lose a pound of weight.
Adjustments – our bodies have evolved to conserve energy and are remarkably good at maintaining our body weight despite changes in diet or exercise. Numerous researchers have shown initial exercise participants will increase their caloric intake and reduce their activity outside the exercise session to reduce their overall caloric expenditure. Researchers have shown keeping your dietary intake and activity levels consistent during the implementation of an exercise program helps maintain caloric expenditures. In addition, keeping the intensity of your exercise program high also combats this adjustment by the body.
Intensity – Incorrect exercise intensity is one of the most common errors exercise participants can make. Most often this is seen in choosing a low intensity aerobic exercise (slow walking, gardening) or a light weight at the gym instead of a more challenging choice. In order for the body to change a stimulus above and beyond its current capacity is often required to make a change. Performing exercise at the proper prescription is one of the keys to success.
Exercise Prescription – Physical Therapists are uniquely trained and educated to provide excellent, effective exercise prescriptions to all ages, ability levels, and disease states. Working with our Boulder Physical Therapy and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinicians will ensure your days per week, reps, sets, exercises, and intensity of exercise matches your individual goals and ability levels. Many who initially enter our clinic are performing the right exercise(s) but the wrong prescription limiting their progress.
Allocate your time wisely – many of us are familiar with the USDA food pyramid placing sweets in the smallest triangle at the top and fruits and vegetables in the larger trapezoid at the bottom. The same is true with exercise selection. Many adults spend time in areas like flexibility or yoga which add little to their health, performance, and injury prevention. Time spent in this area reduces time available for more effective aerobic and strength training. IF individuals are allocating enough time to these latter two categories of exercise each week and still have time remaining for exercise they can add in some flexibility work.