Busting through Barriers to Exercise

We all know of the multitude of benefits from exercise and yet on a day-to-day basis, it can be a challenge to get in the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity we are supposed to get each week (in case you didn’t do the math – that’s 30 minutes 5 days a week). And that is just the minimum amount recommended.

There are so many excuses reasons that come to mind for why we just don’t seem to move enough. We have good intentions, but sometimes our notion of what is acceptable exercise can be the limiting factor.

Many people think they have to go to a gym and exercise for 30 minutes to an hour for the activity to be worth anything. We get confused by messages telling us to exercise at a certain heart rate zone for fat-burning, or to lift heavy weights for minimal reps, or workout in intense intervals…and so on. While some of this information is valid, it leads to overwhelm. We get a complex about how we work-out that can lead to NOT working out.

Research shows that the less restrictive the fitness regimen, the more likely you are to continue.

I am a strong proponent of scheduling exercise on your daily calendar, so it doesn’t become an afterthought for when you have “free time”…because there is no such thing. Yet, being able to adjust for life’s unexpected schedule changes is a skill that will allow you to adapt fitness into a realistic lifestyle – and throughout many different stages of your lifespan.

Simplifying or being flexible with the when, how long and in what way you exercise opens the door to options, rather than spotlighting all of the barriers. If you are used to exercising in the morning, be able to adjust for an afternoon workout when work demands call for an early-morning staff meeting. If you prefer to walk with a friend, be willing to walk solo when that friend is unable to show for your normal time. If you are in the habit of doing laps in your pool, be able to pick up an indoor sport like basketball during the winter months. Lastly, if you are used to running for exercise, be able to find an alternate exercise when you experience an injury, rather than being sidelined all together (with your health provider’s approval, of course).

As you are able to focus on options rather than an “either-or” predicament, you’ll find that being active is a much more realistic and enjoyable part of your day. After all, some movement is better than none at all.

If those barriers continue to percolate to the top of your mind, here are some possible ways to bust through.

Common Barriers to Exercise

Possible Barrier Busters

  I don’t have the time
  • Break up exercise into smaller increments of time (example: walk for 10 min. in the morning, 10 min. at lunch and 10 min. after dinner)
  • Do jumping jacks during commercials of your favorite show
  • Walk around your child’s soccer field while he/she has practice
  • Walk the length of an airport concourse while on a layover
  • Do a 4-min Tabata workout, even when you don’t have time for your full workout routine.
  I can’t afford a gym membership
  • Walk in your neighborhood or in a nearby mall
  • Do flights of stairs at work or in your home
  • Make use of a local park or playground for activity
  • Look up resources available through your local Parks and Rec department (some even have pools or free/low-cost exercise classes)
  • Utilize hiking trails in your community
  I’m not sure what exercises to do
  I’m self-conscious around fit individuals
  • Workout with a buddy who is similar in size or look for a female-only gym/exercise class
  • Invest in new workout wear that makes you feel confident
  I can’t seem to get motivated to exercise
  • Find an exercise buddy and commit to holding each other accountable
  • Try a different kind of activity that seems more enjoyable like Zumba, swimming, or yoga
  • Get your mind off of exercise by listening to upbeat music that you like or an audiobook you’ve been meaning to read
  • Set a goal like participating in a race that requires a training schedule to keep you on track
  It’s too hot, cold, wet, or otherwise   uncomfortable to   exercise outside
  • Dress appropriately and hydrate as needed.
  • Have indoor options for plan B (and maybe C or D) exercise
  • Who says you can’t exercise in the rain? As long as you are safe, challenge yourself to be uncomfortable. Moving beyond what you are used to doing might give you new results.

Challenge yourself to think alternatively to exercise, have an activity-focused mindset and break through any barriers! Let me know how you break through barriers or which ones still stand in your way.



photo credit: Abdullah AL-Naser via photopin cc

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  1. First off I want to say terrific blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing.
    I have had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my ideas out.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any ideas or hints? Thank you!

    • Hi Greg. Thanks for the kind comment! For me, I jot down ideas and key points when they come to mind so when it is time to write I can work off of those ideas. It helps me to think about the message I ultimately want to pass along to my readers – the top 2 or 3 points that you really want to get across. Sometimes I have to remind myself too that the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. Just start writing and sometimes the perfect opening will come to you. Hope that helps!