Can’t get off the couch? These bad habits may be holding you back.
You know that exercise is beneficial to your health, your brain, and your weight loss goals. Yet it seems so hard to fit into your day. If you don’t schedule a run, you probably won’t do it. Plus, there’s your endless to-do list, and then there’s the kids.
And even if you get a handle on those obstacles, there are still plenty more unexpected hurdles standing between you and some time on the treadmill or pavement. Below, a few habits that are messing with your goals—and how to work around them.
You Don’t Eat Until Lunch
Maybe you’re not hungry in the morning, maybe you’re too busy to stop and eat, or maybe skipping breakfast is just part of your routine. But that’s no good if you want to get in a workout, says a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers found that overweight people who ate breakfast were more likely to exercise and burned nearly 836 more kilojoules during the morning than people who fasted. For an energising breakfast that will keep you going, aim for slow-burning protein and fat; bacon and eggs, avocados, cheese, and yoghurt will give you energy all morning so you feel ready to exercise and less ravenous when lunch rolls around.
You Tweet the Time Away
There’s only so much time in the day, and the time you spend on social media tweeting, sharing pictures, or reading another depressing article about politics will take away from the time you spend lacing up your sneakers and moving your body. “It’s common to see my clients lose themselves in Facebook and Twitter and miss a workout,” says Aja Davis, founder of New Body Bootcamp in Brooklyn.
A 2012 study at the University of Ulster in the UK found that the more time study participants spent on social media, the less likely they were to exercise or take part in team sports.
You Don’t Live to Work, but Work to Live
Going for a brisk walk or hitting the weights becomes easier when you’re not tethered to your desk. When you’re on email all day, worried about deadlines and living in fear of your boss, you may place your own well-being on the back burner. “Careers can be draining and take away the willpower to exercise,” says Davis. “If you work too late and carry the mental stress of work out the door with you, it’s harder to exercise.”
A 2013 study of military personnel found that the more job stress they experienced, the less likely they were to exercise – and that’s a career that demands you stay in tip-top shape. So what’s a desk jockey to do? If you routinely miss your evening yoga class because you’re still in the office, try to schedule your workout for the morning before work takes over, says Davis.
You Don’t Have a Bedtime
If you think a hard and fast bedtime is only for toddlers, think again. “A good workout starts the night before,” says Davis. “If you’re watching TV or on your computer until late in the night, you won’t feel restored and refreshed the next day.”
Poor sleep wreaks havoc on the mind and the body. It reduces motivation, makes the body more exhausted and susceptible to injury, and increases inflammation, which suppresses the immune system, according to a 2015 study.
You Think Cleaning Is Exercise
Ok, so you don’t have to get on a treadmill or go run around a track to get exercise. But it’s one of the easiest and best ways to do it. Those daily chores may make you sweat, but don’t overestimate their benefits for keeping you fit. A study in BMC Public Health found that cleaning does not actually meet the standard for physical activity. And study participants who reported getting their exercise through cleaning tended to gain weight. It’s great to keep a tidy home – just don’t mistake housework for a workout.
You Don’t Take Breaks
When it comes to bad habits, you probably know that sitting is the new smoking: The longer you sit, the less likely you are to meet the minimum recommendation of physical activity. A 2015 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that Australian women who sat for longer than 8 hours per day were less likely to exercise and significantly increased their odds of dying.
To combat the effects of sitting on your exercise habit, take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, and move around with these simple exercises.
You’re a Social Butterfly
Great relationships with friends and family are key to happiness and longevity. However, when you’re at dinner every night, afraid to miss happy hour, or accepting every invitation, you will end up putting your need to chat over your need to work out.
Additionally, you’ll consume way too much junk food that goes hand-in-hand with get-togethers. “It’s important and fun to have a social life, but it may interfere with your fitness goals,” says Davis. “People who need to socialise should either check out some group runs or exercise in the morning.” Your work, PTA meeting and parties probably don’t happen at 6 AM, so use that time wisely. (Follow these 8 steps to become a morning runner.)
You Take Two and Wait Until the Morning
You’ve got a hangover. Your neck hurts because you slept funny. Your knee feels swollen. Dealing with pain can become a daily habit that stops you from getting your heart rate up, but the best remedy is often exercise.
A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that a bit of aerobic exercise – just 30 minutes – makes us more tolerant of pain and discomfort. That is, it’s not just those lovely exercise-induced endorphins that allow us to keep going, but a habit of moderate exercise allows us to withstand pain over the long-term.
The article 8 Common Daily Habits That Keep You From Exercising originally appeared on Prevention.