Why real life is hampering your weight loss efforts (and why that's ok)

Periods of big change in your life often prevents us from achieving our weight loss goals

Man helping his daughter with homework
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Important life events sometime hamper your fitness goals. Whether you don't have time for the gym because you're a new parent, you miss a few runs because you're studying for a big exam, or you're simply too busy to find the time to work out – it happens.

However, there's no reason to get disheartened if you don't seem to be able to squeeze in a quick gym session, or jump on one of the best exercise machines to lose weight you might have bought over lockdown. One new study published by the American Heart Association (opens in new tab) highlights how often physical activity seems to be the first thing to go in the wake of an important life event.

The researchers found that only one in four US adults meet the recommended physical activity benchmarks of 150 minutes, or two-and-a-half hours, each week. They found 'beginning a new school', 'a career change', 'marriage', 'pregnancy', 'parenting' and 'retirement' were some of the periods in life which marked significantly lower physical activity levels.

Abbi D. Lane-Cordova, Ph.D., FAHA, of the University of South Carolina, said: "Certain life events and transitions may mark the beginning and end of different phases of a person's life, and these life changes may lead to periods of less physical activity and more sedentary lifestyle behaviors. Physical activity is an important heart-healthy behavior and too much sitting and inactivity is not good for you."

Two women walking to lose weight

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Don't beat yourself up – sometimes, real-life responsibilities have to take precedence over the things we'd like to do for ourselves, and it's okay to not meet an arbitrary number of minutes exercised during intense periods in your life. You are allowed a break. However, exercise is great for your mental and physical health, so it's worth taking time – even a very small amount of time – when you can.  

If you can't make it to the gym or get dressed for a run, try two 10-minute walks each day. Walking to lose weight is easy to incorporate into your day, whether it's parking the car ten minutes away from work or volunteering to go to the shops on your lunch break. It's a simple way to incorporate exercise, fresh air, and a break from screens, and what's more, it would (almost) get you to that 150-minute goal. All you need is a pair of our best shoes for walking to get started. 

Walking has been found to assist in a "moderate" (opens in new tab) amount of weight loss, and to promote the release of endorphins (opens in new tab) in our body, hormones to help us relax and reduce stress. 

Regardless of the challenges facing you during these transitional and difficult times, don't be afraid to put your regular time-consuming fitness schedule on temporary hold in favour of a few quick strolls. You might not be entirely where you thought you'd be in terms of your weight loss goals, but you should still be proud of yourself for navigating today's rough waters. 

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.