5 Barriers to Fitness and How to Overcome Them

We all have at least a vague idea of why good nutrition and physical activity are so important to a person's overall health and well-being. For example, you probably know that experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week.  

That isn't a whole lot if you think about it. That comes out to less than 22 minutes of moderate activity or about 12 minutes of vigorous activity a day. And yet 81.6% of adults do NOT get the recommended amount of physical activity, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Why is it so hard to get in those 150 (or 75) minutes? Because we all have lives. We're busy working, raising children, enjoying a social life, maintaining a home, etc., creating many barriers to exercise.

Reminder: Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.

5 common barriers and possible solutions:

Barrier 1: Time

Sometimes it seems like there just aren't enough hours in the day to complete the most basic tasks, let alone exercise.

Solutions:

  • According to Digital Marketing, "On average, global internet users spent 144 minutes on social media sites every day." And according to Statista, U.S. adults spend an average of three hours a day watching TV. So pay attention to how much time you spend on social media and TV. Can you spend some of that time walking instead, or can you exercise while watching TV?
  • Instead of getting all your physical activity in at one time, break it down into smaller increments – a 10-minute walk, 10 minutes playing soccer with your kids, 10 minutes gardening, etc.
  • Get up earlier - before the day's demands start coming at you – and squeeze in a run.
  • Park further away from your destination (an oldy but goody).
  • Walk to the nearby store, restaurant, etc., instead of driving.
  • Suggest going for a walk or a bike ride with friends instead of going out to dinner.

Barrier 2: Motivation

For some, exercising is one of the last things they feel like doing when they first wake up or after a busy day.

Solutions:

  • Schedule exercise like you would make a doctor's appointment to make it a part of your weekly routine.
  • Exercise with a friend. Sometimes knowing someone else is waiting for you to hit the trails is enough to get you out of bed.
  • Join an exercise group or class.
  • Keep reminding yourself of the benefits of physical activity. Maybe print out this graphic showing the health benefits of physical activity for adults and put it someplace you'll see it every day.

Barrier 3: Boredom

In an effort to make physical activity a habit or an integral part of your life, you may find yourself falling into a rut and doing the same exercise/routine every day. That can quickly become boring.

Solutions:

  • Try different activities – rollerblading, cross-country skiing, rock climbing, etc.
  • Try different routes/trails if you're walking, hiking, biking, etc.
  • Exercise with different friends.
  • Take a new class, such as Pilates, yoga, dance, etc.

Barrier 4: Feeling Self-Conscious

Going to a gym can be intimidating if you're just starting to exercise. Sometimes it seems as if everyone else knows what they're doing while you're struggling to keep up.

Solutions:

  • Remember that you are doing this for yourself, not anyone else.
  • Avoid crowds. Instead of going to the gym, invest in a stationary bike. Instead of taking a group class, check out exercise videos on YouTube that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Barrier 5: Lack of Energy

After a long day of work, school, or taking care of the kids, you may feel completely spent. Going out for a run or swim may be the furthest thing from your mind. Meanwhile, the TV or tablet calls to you.

Solutions:

  • Know when you feel your best, and schedule exercise during that time.
  • Exercise first thing in the morning.
  • Go for a walk at lunchtime.
  • Have everything you need to exercise – sneakers, equipment, etc. – ready to go, so you don't have to spend time and energy getting everything together.
  • Remind yourself that exercise can boost your energy level.

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