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Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challenges
By Mayo Clinic staff

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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.


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

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

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

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

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

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