Exercise is important. Surely you’ve heard this zillion of times and over. That doesn’t make it any less true, and you’re going to keep hearing it. In much the same way, we all recognize and appreciate how hectic and demanding the world becomes every passing day. There are so many overwhelming obligations that everyone has to attend to.
You probably have promised yourself several times to start exercising the day after tomorrow but can’t seem to do it due to some personal, social, and environmental stumbling blocks. Questions like, “how am I going to make time?”, “where do I find the energy?” and “what if I get hurt?” keep circling in your mind. We get you. These are all barriers that frustrate your resolve and effort at working out and keeping fit. The good news, however, is that these barriers are not insurmountable. They can all be overcome with the appropriate plans and a little bit of commitment (or more than a little bit).
That said, let’s look at some of the most common exercise barriers and how to tackle them head-on:
1. You are Constrained by Time
“I am so busy, and I don’t have the time to exercise!”. This is perhaps the commonest reason that many people give as keeping them from exercising. Hey, it’s a busy world; we get it. But as the saying goes, we make the things which we feel are important to us. If you haven’t made time to exercise, you probably don’t think it’s important enough to deserve even 10 minutes of your 24 hours, a few times a week. Here are ways you can factor exercise into your day regardless of how busy you are.
- Wake up early.
Make an effort to wake up about a half-hour earlier and use that time to exercise. You can even start smaller at 10 or 15 minutes and work your way up. Set the alarm, or add it to your reminder. Write it down if you will. Anything to remind you to sacrifice (more like invest) thirty minutes of your time to strengthen your body and mind before the actual day begins, go for it.
- Integrate exercise into your daily activities or work routine.
For instance, walk to the workplace if it’s close. Ride a bike if you have one, and the commute isn’t that tedious. Find a parking space a few blocks away so you can do some walking. Use a few minutes of your lunch break to walk around a bit, don’t skip the stairs for the elevator, and walk or stretch while making phone calls. If you choose to exercise at home, do so while, for example, watching TV or listening to the radio. These are all efficient ways to use time and get the most for your body.
2. You Don’t Have the Motivation
Motivation gets you started, true, and we all need a little bit of that now and then. However, you are the best person ever to motivate yourself to do anything, such as exercise. The following ways can help you.
- Set realistic goals.
How many minutes and days can you work out, especially as a beginner? Figure this out and make it an achievable goal. It should be realistic, though. Saying you’ll exercise for an hour for six days every week when you’re battling with time isn’t exactly a realistic goal (but if you can, why not?).
- Put exercise down on your calendar.
Planning and adding exercise to your schedule gives you something to look forward to instead of just promising yourself mentally that you’re going to work out. Put it down. After all, goals that are not written down are said to be mere wishes!
- Join a fitness or training class/group at the gym.
This might mean going to the gym a few times a week. You’ll find a community of like-minded people as far as fitness is concerned, and they can become the support and motivation you need. According to a Psychology of Sport and Exercise research, a support structure can positively influence your exercise habits.
- Give yourself a treat.
After reaching your goals for the week or even month, why not reward yourself for being so awesome? A break for a night out or night in with your favorite show or any other thing you enjoy should do the trick.
3. You Don’t Have the Energy
Working out doesn’t require the strength of Godzilla or the ability to carry a 100-pound dummy. Try these tips:
- Choose the right time for exercise.
Everybody has days and times when they feel more energetic. This can be in the morning or evening. Monitor yourself and see what times and days will work best for you, and stick with them.
- Try less intensive exercises.
You don’t have to lift heavy weights to show that you’re working out. Walking, yoga, Pilates, light weight lifting, and Zumba are all easy on the body and energizing as well, and you can do them even when you feel tired or sore. Remember, exercise generates energy, so you’ll replenish what you lose eventually.
4. You Lack the Money or Resources
You might not have the funds you need to set up high-tech workout spaces at home, but does that mean you should give up? No. Besides, these are other options you can explore:
- Look at less expensive options.
If you’re working out at home, go for activities that require minimal facilities, gears, or equipment. Rope jumping, stairs climbing, family walks, jogging, calisthenics, or the use of fitness apps are all money-saving alternatives.
- Get a gym you can afford.
Scout for gyms with reasonable membership fees, which you can squeeze into your expenses, and roll with the best you find.
5. You’re Afraid to Hurt Yourself
This is another real and understandable barrier to physical activity that so many people share, especially those who have experienced an exercise-related injury before, older people, or others battling with illnesses. Here are some suggestions:
- Talk to a professional.
If you’re part of a gym or fitness club, relay your fears to your trainer, and together, you can find activities that can be designed to meet your needs and put your fears to rest.
- Check your health out first.
Speak to your doctor or physiotherapist if you have problems such as joint and back pains or if you have experienced an exercise-related injury before. They’ll know how to find a tailored plan for you to get back into exercise.
- You have a choice.
Whether at home or the gym or wherever you decide to work out, opt for activities that present very minimal to zero risks.
6. You Don’t Have the Right Skills
There’s no such thing as having the right or wrong skills for exercise. Even if there was, let the words of Brian Tracy console you that “all skills are learnable.” Let’s look at some ways to overcome this barrier:
- Choose activities that don’t require any extraordinary skills, such as jogging, calisthenics, walking, or rope jumping.
- Find other activities that you love, start doing them and give yourself time. You’ll be surprised what other new skills you might pick up!
- Join a fitness or gym class to learn new skills.
7. You Have Too Many Family Responsibilities
This is another legit barrier that can also be tackled. You might have to ready the kids for school early in the morning, pick them up and attend to other pressing family needs. These ways can help you do all that while still getting some exercise done:
- Plan most things ahead, including family meals and daily tasks. Add exercise to this plan.
- If you have a partner, work with them to devise a strategy that allows both of you to work out a few times a week.
- Have family walks at convenient times, even if they’re just around the neighborhood or to the grocery store.
- Check out a gym near you and subscribe to a fitness session that works best for you.
Apart from the above, other ways can supplement your exercise efforts and help you get the most of any activity you choose to engage in. Let’s look at them:
- Be deliberate and cautious about your diet. Eat right, with all the essential nutrients in their right proportions.
- Always stay hydrated.
- Be positive and confident.
- Ask for the support of your friends and family. Let them join you on your walks or take a hike!
- Take baby steps if things get overwhelming. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Handle things one day at a time, and you’ll be good.
By and large…
We’ve highlighted some common barriers to exercise and fitness in general and the ways to tackle them. Make it a point to explore the appropriate solutions and get a great everyday workout experience. Don’t forget to share your thoughts with us in the comments. Good luck!
- 10 Ways to Work Out for Free in 2018, theeverygirl.com, January 18, 2018
- Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity, cdc.gov