Overcoming Barriers to Fitness

Most of us are familiar with the most common barrier to a regular physical activity routine — the supposed lack of time. Work, study, family obligations and other commitments of daily life often get in the way of our intentions to be active. There are many other barriers that depend on each of our life circumstances.

it’s helpful to first identify your personal barriers before committing to a physical activity program and setting goals for yourself. By developing tactics in advance, you’ll have better success overcoming your personal barriers.

Here are some of the more common barriers and suggestions for overcoming them:

Knowledge Deficit

When you don’t know what types of changes you need to make to improve your lifestyle, you won’t even know where to start. Begin by talking to your doctor, who can clue you into areas of your health that might need improvement. As a general rule, plan to exercise at least 150 minutes per week. Change your diet by choosing fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy and whole grains as often as possible. Avoid fried, fatty and sugary foods. Maintain a healthy body, get enough sleep, minimize stress and maintain a positive attitude.

Lack of time

Monitor your activities for one week and identify at least three, 30 to 60-minute slots you could use for physical activity. Select activities that you can fit into your home or work routine so you’re not wasting time on commuting to another venue to accomplish them. Walking in your neighbourhood, climbing stairs at your office or exercising while you watch TV are good options

Friends and family don’t share your interest in physical activity

Explain your fitness and/or health improvement goals to friends and family and ask for their support. Invite friends to participate in physical activity with you. Join a local health club, gym, bootcamp or running/walking club to find people with similar goals to offer support.

Lack of motivation and/or energy

Plan ahead. Schedule physical activity for specific times/days and “check” it off your list or calendar each time you complete it. Determine what time of day you feel more energetic and try to fit activity into that time frame. Join an exercise group or class and seek others in the group to help motivate you and keep you accountable to attending.

Lack of resources/equipment

Select activities that require minimal facilities or equipment, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope or calisthenics (bodyweight training). Identify inexpensive, convenient resources in your community, such as parks and recreation programs.

Fear of injury

Learn how to warm up and cool down to prevent injury. Consider appropriate exercise for your age, fitness level, skill level, and health status. Choose activities involving minimum risk.

Family caregiving obligations

Exercise with your kids — go for a walk together, play tag or other running games, get an aerobic dance or exercise tape for kids. You can spend time together, occupy the kids and ensure they’re getting the daily physical activity they need to stay healthy. If you have a specific class you like to attend, try alternating babysitting time with a neighbour.

Frequent work or leisure travel

Join a health club  and ask about national and international memberships that allow access to facilities in other towns or cities. Pack a jump rope and resistance bands in your luggage. Book hotels that have a pool and/or gym facility.

Retirement years

Look upon your retirement as an opportunity to become more active instead of less. Spend more time gardening, walking the dog, and playing with your grandchildren. Children with short legs and grandparents with slower gaits are often great walking partners. Learn a new skill you’ve always been interested in, such as ballroom dancing, square dancing, or swimming. Now that you have the time, make regular physical activity a part of every day. Go for a walk every morning or every evening before dinner.