What’s Your Barrier to Exercise?

If you are like me, you probably often wonder to yourself how in the world we have an obesity epidemic in this country when exercise is so much fun and feels so good. There are too many lifestyle related diseases to name that can be combated with exercise. So why doesn’t everyone exercise like you and I?

Interestingly, there are several reasons that are consistently used by people of all ages, genders and socio-economic status. See if any of these apply to you or someone you know.

Barrier #1: “I don’t have enough time to exercise”

Solution: The benefits of exercise are cumulative. Don’t try to change your life in one day. Begin with something simple to break the inertia. Find a convenient time for you that you can be consistent with. Even if this is walking for 15:00 during your lunch break. Avoid activities that aggravate any pain you might have the can create further damage and dampen your enthusiasm for exercise of all forms. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to continue once you get started.

Barrier #2: “I’m self conscious of how I look during exercise”

Solution: Exercise can be done anywhere. You can begin at home with a DVD or you can join an exercise group of your peers. Not everyone is cut out for the big box health clubs. Find a more intimate setting where you feel comfortable. Focus on the benefits you are gaining and not what you look like.

Barrier #3: “I’m always too tired to exercise”

Solution: It is scientifically proven that exercise increases your energy levels. The key is to progressively increase your activity level to avoid becoming sore or developing injuries from doing too much too soon. Identify the time of day that you feel most energetic and schedule some exercise then.

Barrier #4: “I’ve started exercise programs before and never follow through”

Solution: Don’t try to go it alone. Develop a network of supporters. Set short term goals initially and have your network hold you accountable. Get professional instruction and guidance. Find something you enjoy and want to do versus something you feel you have to do. Any good fitness profession should be able to provide you with an exercise program that is effective and that you enjoy. Your workout is about you!

We must understand that most people inherently know that exercise is good for them. Yet they are not exercising. But because they know exercise will have a positive effect on their health, they have not ruled it out.

Research has identified five stages of behavior change:

1. precontemplation
2. contemplation
3. preparation
4. action
5. maintenance.

The examples of barriers to exercise mentioned above fall into the “contemplation” stage. This stage is the longest and some people may be stuck in this stage for years. In this stage, people often associate more bad than good with exercise. For example, if they are too self conscious, they will never want to go into a facility with others for exercise.

By working with a friend or seeking professional guidance you can find tangible solutions and support to allow you to focus more on the benefits of an exercise program versus the barriers. The same is true for any exercise program-whether it is to get you out of pain or to get you more fit. You will move from contemplation to preparation and then begin taking action so that you can feel better, move better, look better AND be better.

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