Given the known benefits of regular physical activity, it is shocking that still many Americans are not meeting current recommended physical activity levels. The fast-paced, technology-driven American lifestyle has created a number of personal, environmental, behavioral, and/or physiological barriers to becoming active. Therefore, it is important for both adults and youth to modify or overcome these barriers in order to improve their activity levels.
So what is preventing you from living a more active lifestyle? Is it your job, the way you manage your time, where you live, lack of energy, or possibly the weather? Determining this will help you make progress to a behavior change for more activity in your life. Below are some of the top barriers and solutions to these barriers for physical activity offered from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health.
I am too busy to exercise.
Solutions: Make physical activity a priority, carve out time each week – mark it on your calendar! Make physical activity a family event – go for walks as a family 1-2 times a week. Build physical activity into household chores, that way you can move around and clean the house at the same time! Try working out at work during breaks, stretch or take short walks.
I am too tired to work out.
Solutions: Think about the benefits of regular exercise – weight management, lower cholesterol, improved performance, lower blood pressure, decreased risk of heart and metabolic problems, and many more. Work out during the day when you have energy – try working out at different times of the day to see what works for you, whether it is morning, afternoon or evening.
Treadmills and Stationery equipment are boring.
Solutions: Workout with a friend to ease the boredom. Listen to music. Get outside, play with your children, do Zumba – physical activity doesn’t have to be done on stationery equipment!
I am afraid of injury.
Solutions: Start slowly with low impact movements and slowly increase frequency and time as you feel more comfortable. Go to an exercise class or personal trainer to have people around you to help when starting an exercise program. Choose water workouts to help reduce sore muscles and injury or start your own walking group.
I don’t like sports.
Solutions: You don’t have to be an athlete to see the benefits of regular activity, try yoga, gardening, hiking or even just walking!
Gym memberships are expensive.
Solutions: Choose free activities – go to the park, play with your family, walk outside, dance or try working out at home.
I don’t have childcare for when I work out.
Solutions: Involve your kids! Hire a babysitter. Look for gyms and centers that offer childcare.
My friends and family aren’t active.
Solutions: Do it yourself, your good habits may rub off on them and possibly lead to participation together. Join a class or league where people count on you to show up.
I get embarrassed when people see me exercise.
Solutions: Ask yourself if it really matters? You are doing something positive for your health and that’s something to be proud of. Invite someone to join you; this may ease the feelings of embarrassment.
My neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks or is unsafe.
Solutions: Find a safe place to walk – walk at work, at the mall or at a friend’s neighborhood. Do yard work, shovel snow, wash the car.
Winter is too cold and summer is too hot.
Solutions: Walk around the mall. Join a fitness club or community center. Exercise at home.
I have a health problem or injury.
Solutions: Talk with your healthcare professional. Start slowly. Work with a personal trainer to get started in an exercise program suitable for your needs.
- National Institute of Health (2009). Tips to help get active. (NIH Publication No. 06–5578) Washinton, DC.