Strategies to Overcoming Common Barriers to Exercise


Have you struggled with your exercise program? You’re not alone. In a study of individuals beginning a weight loss program, nearly 98% of participants knew the benefits of exercise. However, almost 80% of participants reported a major reason for not exercising was lack of motivation. The other reasons topping the charts were lack of time and feeling too tired. It’s time to knock down these barriers and examine some effective ways to make exercise happen.

Lack of Motivation

Too often we wait to become motivated to exercise and lose weight. Even worse, we don’t plan for periods when motivation wanes and continues to persevere toward our goals.

  • Pick a short-term goal either in terms of minutes per day each week (30 minutes 6 times a week is sufficient).  Having a reason to exercise and/or a goal to work towards will help motivate you on days when you might not feel like exercising.
  • Try a new activity. Trying a new form of cardio may be the incentive you need to get moving.
  • Keep exercise reminders in sight. Place your workout clothes/shoes in a visible spot in the office or house as a reminder to get your exercise in each day.
  • Schedule your exercise time with a friend or two so that you’re not only accountable to the activity, you are also responsible to the other person.

Lack of Time

No one can find time to exercise – you have to make time.  You are given 24 hours each day to decide how you spend your time. Examine your day. Is every minute fully scheduled? Do you watch television or surf the Internet at all? Ask yourself if those activities are adding to the quality of your life or are they “time-sucks.” For the really time-pressed, re-arrange your schedule using the following strategies to fit exercise in:

  • Eliminate watching one ½ hour television show and go for a walk to get your cardio in on those nights.
  • Exercise first thing in the morning before other things take priority and the day has gotten away from you.
  • Double up on exercise and other activities: exercise while dinner is cooking or while the clothes are in the dryer, having a “walking” business meeting with a co-worker who is also trying to stay fit, exercise during your lunch hour and instead eat your lunch at your desk.
  • Plan ahead during the week to determine which days are more open for time to exercise, and which days might require more creative thinking. Then, schedule exercise into your calendar.

Too Tired

Exercise doesn’t have to be an exhaustive 2-hour bout at the gym. Start small and work toward a healthier lifestyle by implementing an effective exercise program with just 30-minutes a day. Also, avoid exercising during your lowest energy time of the day.

  • Exercise first thing in the morning, before the day tires you out. Besides, the added boost of energy you’ll get from exercising will provide you with a great start to your day and will help give you more energy throughout the day.
  • Attempt to go to bed a little earlier each night. Even 15 additional minutes can leave you feeling more refreshed.
  • Limit the amount of caffeine and high sugar foods you consume throughout the day. While these might provide you with short-term energy boosts, they can leave you feeling drained and exhausted and can lead to poor sleep at night, creating a vicious cycle.

Barriers exist when we allow them to exist. Don’t settle for allowing these common barriers, excuses and rationalizations to keep you from losing excess body fat and getting in the best shape of your life. Take action now!

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