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Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challenges
By Mayo Clinic staff

Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fitness/SM00085_D

Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challenges
Sticking to a regular exercise schedule isn't easy. Get practical tips for overcoming common barriers. By Mayo Clinic staff Sticking to a regular exercise schedule isn't easy. After all, there are plenty of potential hindrances — time, boredom, injuries, self-confidence. But these issues don't need to stand in your way. Consider practical strategies for overcoming common barriers to fitness.

Barrier No. 1: I don't have enough time to exercise
Setting aside time to exercise can be a challenge. Use a little creativity to get the most out of your time. • Squeeze in short walks throughout the day. If you don't have time for a full workout, don't sweat it. Shorter spurts of exercise, such as 10 minutes of walking spaced throughout the day, offer benefits too.

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12-Apr-13

Join forces. • • Barrier No. anything that gets you moving counts. Once you've adjusted to early-morning workouts. add another day or two to the routine. rock-climbing lesson or trip to the pool. stair-climbing machine or other piece of home exercise equipment. neighbors or co-workers. Park in the back row of the parking lot or even a few blocks away and walk to your destination. But exercise doesn't have to be boring. Or consider investing in a stationary bicycle. • • • Barrier No. Check out exercise classes or sports leagues at a recreation center or health club. Rotate among several activities — such as walking.mayoclinic. walk more. Exercise with friends. your self-confidence is likely to improve as well. or focus on how much stronger you feel after a workout. Learn new skills while getting in a workout. Your weekly Saturday matinee with the kids or your best friend could be reborn as your weekly Saturday bike ride. Explore new options. get up 30 minutes earlier twice a week to exercise. relatives. Try an exercise video or an activity-oriented video game. treadmill. You'll be more likely to stay interested. Vary the routine. • Avoid the crowd. If you're uncomfortable exercising around others. Drive less. 3: I'm self-conscious about how I look Don't get down on yourself! Remind yourself what a great favor you're doing for your cardiovascular health.MayoClinic.com/health/fitness/SM00085_D/METHOD=print 12-Apr-13 . Focus on the future. Remember. You'll enjoy the camaraderie and the encouragement of the group. • Choose activities you enjoy. go solo at first. Praise yourself for making a commitment to your health. And remember that as you become fitter and more comfortable exercising. especially when you're going it alone.Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challenges . swimming and cycling — to keep you on your toes while conditioning different muscle groups. • http://www. Revamp your rituals. If your days are packed and the evening hours are just as hectic.com Page 2 of 6 • Get up earlier. 2: I think exercise is boring It's natural to grow weary of a repetitive workout day after day.

But breaking the cycle with physical activity is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Take another walk around the block tomorrow. Make lunchtime count. Hit the hay earlier. Put workout clothes on top of your dresser. Block off times for physical activity. If your mental bar is too high. Go to bed earlier to make sure you're getting enough sleep. and take a brisk walk during your lunch break. Remember the suggestion to get up 30 minutes earlier to exercise? Hop on the treadmill or stationary bicycle while you listen to the radio or watch the morning news. Try something basic. Ask for their encouragement and support. 5: I'm too lazy to exercise If the mere thought of a morning jog makes you tired. you might give up without even trying. such as a daily walk. and make sure your friends and family are aware of your commitment. It's a vicious cycle. not against it. Start with a walk around the block. Or step outside for a brisk walk. Running on empty is no way to face a full day. 4: I'm too tired to exercise after work No energy to exercise? Without exercise. and eventually you'll no longer feel worn out. Be prepared. Work with your nature. • Keep it simple. 6: I'm not athletic Natural athletic ability isn't a prerequisite to physical activity. socks and all. you'll have no energy. • • • Barrier No.mayoclinic. Schedule exercise as you would schedule an important appointment. Don't give up if you feel worn out.MayoClinic.com Page 3 of 6 Barrier No. • • Barrier No. Plan physical activity for times of the day when you tend to feel more energetic — or at least not quite so lazy. Keep a full water bottle in the fridge.Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challenges . Keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk. Have an exercise video queued up and ready to go when you get home at night. • Try a morning dose of exercise. try these thoughts on for size: • Set realistic expectations. http://www.com/health/fitness/SM00085_D/METHOD=print 12-Apr-13 . Keep it up.

• Do strengthening exercises at home.Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challenges .mayoclinic. Plan routes through your neighborhood or near your workplace. Try videos on dance aerobics. 8: I can't afford health club fees You don't need a membership at an elite gym to get a great workout. Take the stairs.MayoClinic. • Pace yourself. Simply focus on the positive changes you're making to your body and mind. Use inexpensive resistance bands — lengths of elastic tubing that come in varying strengths — in place of weights. Do push-ups or squats using your body weight. and then get down on yourself when you fall short. such as exercising 20 minutes a day. when your body is ready. Watch an exercise video. and learn from your mistakes. but that doesn't mean you aren't doing yourself a great favor. Lift plastic milk jugs partially filled with water or sand. For variety. cardio-kickboxing. or in a nearby shopping mall. along local parks and trails. Use your personal fitness goals as motivation — and reward yourself as you meet your goals. Join up with friends who are in the same boat. Don't promise yourself you're going to work out for an hour every day. make climbing stairs a workout in itself. yoga or tai chi. trade exercise videos with a friend. neighbors or co-workers for regular group walks. Set realistic goals. Consider common-sense alternatives. Forget the competition. Start a walking group. And have fun while helping each other work out. You can't see it when you lower your cholesterol or reduce your risk of diabetes. Don't worry about becoming a superstar athlete or joining the hard-bodied athletes at the fitness club. Skip the elevator when you can. three days a week for the first month. Remember why you're exercising. Round up friends. Stick with goals you can more easily achieve.com Page 4 of 6 • Start a team. Better yet.com/health/fitness/SM00085_D/METHOD=print 12-Apr-13 . Start small and build up to more-intense workouts later. • Barrier No. • • • http://www. Re-evaluate what went wrong. • • Barrier No. 7: I've tried to exercise in the past and failed Don't throw in the towel.

mayoclinic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Start with a simple walking program. Barrier No. ask them to at least respect your desire to get fit. If you've had a previous injury. • • If necessary. Try an exercise class for beginners. 10: My family doesn't support my efforts Remind those close to you of the benefits of regular exercise — and then bring them along for the ride. you may want to first see a sports medicine physician. invite a friend to go to an indoor climbing wall or rent a tandem bicycle for the weekend. Volunteer to drive your teens to the mall. You'll learn the basics by starting from scratch. Instead of suggesting a workout at the gym. As you become more confident in your abilities. have a heart-to-heart with your loved ones. Propose a new adventure. and then walk laps inside while you wait for the shoppers. • • Barrier No. Splash with the kids in the pool instead of watching from your chair. who can monitor your movements and point you in the right direction. Exercise classes offered through a local recreation department or community education group might fit your budget better than an annual gym membership.MayoClinic. Pack a picnic lunch and take your family to the park for a game of tag or kickball. Get professional help. • Take it slow.com Page 5 of 6 • Try your community center. References • Overcoming barriers to physical activity. Sign up for a parent-child exercise class.com/health/fitness/SM00085_D/METHOD=print 12-Apr-13 . practices or rehearsals. who can evaluate you and recommend specific treatment. add new activities to your routine. Do double duty. 9: I'm afraid I'll hurt myself if I exercise If you're nervous about injuring yourself. • Get your kicks with your kids.Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challenges . Try the same trick at your child's school during lessons. start off on the right foot. http://www. Get a fitness tutorial from a certified expert. If they don't share your fitness ambitions. such as physical therapy.

et al.jhtml?identifier=801." "Enhance your life. American Heart Association. Minn. 2010. http://www. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only.org/presenter.32:563. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online. U.MayoClinic. 2008. 8. All rights reserved. 2008." "Mayo Clinic.americanheart." "EmbodyHealth.cdc. Motivations and barriers to exercise among college students.11:1.html. Accessed Dec." "MayoClinic.gov/PAGUIDELINES/guidelines/default.mayoclinic.jhtml?identifier=2155. • Laskowski ER (expert opinion). et al. 2010. http://www. American Heart Association.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/getactive/barriers. 6.org/presenter. 19. American Journal of Health Behavior. • Tips for exercise success. • Ebben W. 2011 SM00085_D © 1998-2013 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Accessed Dec. Rochester.com/health/fitness/SM00085_D/METHOD=print 12-Apr-13 . http://www. 8. 9. • Wolin KY. 6." and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 2010.health.S.com Page 6 of 6 http://www. 2010.aspx Accessed Dec.americanheart.Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challenges . "Mayo. Feb. http://www.com. Low discretionary time as a barrier to physical activity and intervention uptake. 2010. Mayo Clinic. • Physical activity in your daily life. • 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Dec. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed Dec.