Overcoming Exercise Barriers—Step by Step

There are very few activities during our daily lives that keep us totally connected to the present moment without constant practice. Eating can be interrupted by a ringing phone or text, and working can be interrupted by a barrage of pressing emails. However when we engage in exercise and movement, we are automatically bound to that activity, in the flow of every step, jump, stroke, sprint—every moment.

The ability to be active is one of life’s miracles. Regardless of the activity you enjoy, mindful movement grounds us in the moment and connects us with our thoughts and what we’re seeing, hearing, and feeling. Unfortunately for many it feels like our days are moving faster than we can keep up with, and engaging in regular physical activity is quick to fall by the wayside. Lack of time, energy, confidence, and even money pile-up as barriers blocking our way from getting up and moving. Let’s take a look at a few common ones and the steps that can be taken to overcome them:

“I just don’t have time.”

This is one of the most frequent, and often most valid, excuses. Time is precious and hard to come by, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to carve out some space in our schedule for regular physical activity. As you exercise more, you’ll find yourself sleeping more soundly and waking up earlier, naturally.

  • Wake up a bit earlier. Whether it’s yoga in your living room or enjoying a brisk walk in the fresh morning air, it’s easier to stick to scheduled morning activity before our busy day fills up further.
  • A little here, a little there.  If an hour-long routine just won’t fit into your day, try breaking it up. Commuting to work by foot, taking the stairs between meetings, walking home, and working in the garden all add up and count as healthy physical activity.
  • Have fun with it! When we do something we like, it’s much easier to find the time and stay motivated. Explore different types of physical activities and find the one you enjoy most.

“I’m too tired.”

This is one we can all relate to. When so many responsibilities require our energy throughout the day, we often want to use a free moment sit back and relax rather than gear up for exercise. Don’t give in!

  • Exercise when energized. Are you an early bird? Midday go-getter? Night owl? Schedule your workout during the time of day when you feel your best.
  • Turn off the T.V. For many, reaching for the remote and grabbing a snack can be an automatic habit at the end of a busy day. And whether it’s a good show or bad show, nothing zaps our energy more than sitting down and zoning out in front of the television.
  • Strength in numbers. Nothing keeps your workouts on track like support from your peers. Gather a group of friends together and set a regular time to exercise together.

“It’s too expensive and I don’t know where to start.”

There’s a prevalent misconception that you need to join a full-featured gym or spend thousands of dollars on clothes and workout gear to get the exercise you need to stay healthy...Not true!

  • Work out at home. It may not be your first choice, but working out in the privacy of your own home can be a great first step. If you feel self-conscious about exercising in public, find a home exercise routine or a favorite exercise video like Zumba, and follow along from your living room. Soon, you may see that you deserve to be outside or in the gym like everyone else, and you can confidently invest in gear, trainers, or memberships toward whichever physical activity you like best.
  • Venture into the great outdoors. Walking doesn’t cost any money—In fact, when you think about gas prices and motor vehicle emissions, it both saves money and contributes to a healthier planet. Switching from driving to walking when you can is a simple start. From there, you may venture on to jogging, running, hiking, swimming...reconnect with nature on a journey to a healthier you.
  • Explore community resources. Although an expensive health-club membership isn’t necessary, you may be interested in trying out or having access to specific workout equipment, classes, or trainers. Community centers or YMCA’s are generally reasonably priced, and often don’t have binding contracts that lock you into a payment schedule.

Just like everyone enjoys different types of activities, barriers and challenges can be unique to each person’s situation. Remember that more often than not, when we step back and recognize these barriers, solutions can begin to emerge and making time for mindful movement might become as natural as eating and sleeping. Besides, the more you exercise the sharper your brain becomes and the more energy you have!

What type of activity gets you out of your head and into the flow? 


Photo Credit: JanGercke