With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Given the health benefits of regular physical activity and fitness, there are still many of us who can struggle to get or stay motivated to exercise on a regular basis. Many technological advances and conveniences have made our lives easier and less active. The 10 most common reasons adults cite for not adopting more physically active lifestyles are:
- Do not have enough time to exercise; Find it inconvenient to exercise
- Lack self-motivation
- Do not find exercise enjoyable; Find exercise boring
- Lack confidence in their ability to be physically active (low self-efficacy)
- Fear being injured or have been injured recently
- Lack self-management skills, such as the ability to set personal goals, monitor progress, or reward progress toward such goals
- Lack encouragement, support, or companionship from family and friends, and
- Do not have parks, sidewalks, bicycle trails, or safe and pleasant walking paths convenient to their homes or offices.
You may find yourself experiencing some of these barriers. Creating strategies to overcome them may help you make physical activity part of your daily life and now that it’s officially spring, there is no better time for a fresh start.
Today I thought we could bring some ideas that will help you spring into fitness and overcome barriers to being physically active. If you’re exercising on a regular basis – AWESOME! Keep up the great work. If you are losing momentum on your new year’s plan or feeling stuck, see if any of these things can help get you over the hump:
Lack of Time
- Look at your week on Sunday nights. Identify 20 minute blocks that you could sneak in your exercise.
- Take a week off social media and fill that time with exercise.
- Exercise in the morning so you can shower and go about your day without any interruption to exercise.
- Move exercise up the priority list. We make time for things that are a priority.
- Get up 30 minutes earlier and do it first thing in morning.
- Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example, walk or ride your bike to work or shopping, organize school activities around physical activity, walk the dog, exercise while you watch TV, park farther away from your destination, etc.
- PRIORITIZE! Make time for physical activity (e.g., walk, jog, or swim during your lunch hour, take fitness breaks while you study, walk up and down stairs between classes).
- Select activities requiring minimal time, such as walking, jogging, or stair climbing. This cuts back on drive time, parking, etc.
- Break up your exercise sessions into two 15-minutes blocks, or even into three 10-minute blocks, if finding a spare 30-minute block each day to exercise is difficult.
- Take a brisk 15-minute walk at lunchtime.
- Revamp your rituals. Start off your Saturdays with a bike-ride, rock-climbing lesson or a trip to the pool.
- Replace screen time with physical activity (television, computer, social media, email).
- Invite friends and family on walks, bike rides, or hikes. Catch up with them while exercising.
- Start a workout group.
- Take a new class.
- Explain your interest in physical activities to friends and family. Ask them to support your efforts.
- Instead of meeting for drinks or a meal, plan social activities involving exercise.
- Develop new friendships with physically active people. Join a group, such as the YMCA or a hiking club.
- Find an exercise buddy.
- Sign up for employee wellness initiatives at your workplace if they are offered.
- Weed out negative influences that jeopardize your ability to participate in physical activity.
- Surround yourself with people who have similar goals, and promote a healthy lifestyle.
- Reflect on who you spend your time with and ask yourself, “are they positively influencing my health?”
- Reflect on where you spend your time. Ask yourself, “are these places positively impacting my health? Are there better places to be spending my time?”
Lack of Energy
- Schedule exercise first thing. It will actually boost your energy for the day.
- Take a look at what and when you are eating. This might be the source of your problem.
- Schedule physical activity for items in the day or week when you feel energetic.
- Focus on how you will feel when you are DONE.
- Convince yourself that if you give it a chance, physical activity will increase your energy level; then, try it.
- Improve nutrition so as to improve overall energy.
- Work on sleep hygiene and health.
- Look upon your age as an opportunity to become more active instead of less. Spend more time doing recreational activities like gardening, golfing, walking the dog, and playing with your children and/or grandchildren.
Lack of Motivation
- Find an exercise buddy who holds you accountable.
- Make a long list of WHY you want to exercise. Keep it visible and review it often.
- Find people who motivate you.
- Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule and write it on your calendar.
- Invite a friend to exercise with you on a regular basis and write it on both your calendars.
- Join an exercise group or class.
- Find a way to track progress. Use an application on your phone or heart rate monitor.
- Take measurements.
- Journal to reflect on “non-scale” achievements.
- Set up a reward.
- See a healthcare provider for suggestions and support when embarking on a physical activity program.
- Make your goals very specific.
- Make sure your goals are reasonable. Avoid the “all-or-nothing” trap of thinking that physical activity is a waste of time if it can’t make you super-fit or super-slim.
- Be prepared. Make sure you have comfortable shoes and loose-fitting clothes for exercising. Take them with you when you travel.
- Add energy to your physical activity by listening to uplifting music before and during your exercise.
- Find an emotional trigger and use it to your advantage.
- Subscribe to a fitness newsletter/blog or social media pages. Consistently receiving fitness related emails will constantly keep fitness on your mind.
- Keep looking and trying new things – if it’s fun, you are more likely to do it!
Fear of Injury or Lack of Skill
- Learn how to warm up and cool down to prevent injury.
- Start your exercise plan with low-impact, low intensity activity to ease into it and build confidence.
- Go to a class when an instructor can help.
- Walking is one of the best forms of exercise!
- Learn how to exercise appropriately considering your age, fitness level, skill level, and health status.
- Seek out professional help. Hire someone for one visit. If you are living with a chronic condition or injury, they can help modify your plan.
- Take it slowly. Start with a simple walking program. Warm up before you exercise, and cool down when you are finished. As you become more confident in your abilities, add new activities to your routine.
- Try an exercise class for beginners to learn the basics.
- Consult with your doctor or an exercise therapist to help design a personal fitness program appropriate for you.
- Practice positive visualization.
- Get your movements analyzed.
- Zap the negative thoughts. Don’t put artificial limits on your potential. Remember that you can build up to just about anything as long as you practice.
Lack of Resources
- You don’t need a membership or fancy equipment. A pair of decent shoes will get you started.
- Walking, stretching, body weight exercises – these don’t require any money.
- Select activities that require minimal facilities or equipment, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope, or calisthenics.
- Identify inexpensive, convenient resources available in your community (community education programs, park and recreation programs, work site programs, etc.)
- Explore outdoor parks, hiking trails, basketball and tennis courts, etc.
- Do strengthening exercises at home. Use inexpensive resistance bands in place of weights. Do push ups or squats using your body weight.
- Use free online resources to get access to exercise ideas.
- Start a walking group. Round up friends, neighbors or co-workers for regular group walks. Plan routes through your neighborhood or near your workplace, along local parks and trails, or in a nearby shopping mall.
- Take the stairs.
- Try your community center. Exercise classes offered through a local recreation department or community education group might fit your budget better than an annual gym membership.
- Head to a local park or playground. Take a ball with you. You would be surprised what happens.
- Trade babysitting time with a friend, neighbor, or family member who also has small children.
- Exercise with the kids. Go for a walk together, play tag or other running games, get an aerobic dance or exercise tape for kids (there are several on the market) and exercise together. You can spend time together and still get your exercise.
- Jump rope, do calisthenics, ride a stationary bicycle, or use other home gymnasium equipment while the kids are busy playing or sleeping.
- Try to exercise when the kids are not around (e.g., during school hours, during their nap time, during practice times, etc.)
- Find ways to be active around your home with other (e.g., shoot hoops on the driveway, play tennis at a nearby tennis court, go for a bicycle ride with a friend, play with siblings, do household chores such as mowing the lawn).
- Use home exercise videos or stream ideas that you can do at home.
- If you get a membership somewhere, see if you can get one that provides child care
Travel / Weather
- Put a jump rope and resistance band in your suitcase.
- Walk the halls and climb the stairs in hotels.
- Take in the new city on foot.
- Walk the airport instead of sitting at the gate.
- Stay in places with swimming pools or exercise facilities.
- Join the YMCA or YWCA (ask about reciprocal membership agreement).
- Visit the local shopping mall and walk for half an hour or more.
- Bring your favorite music that motivates you.
- Develop a set of regular activities that are always available regardless of the weather (indoor cycling, aerobic dance, indoor swimming, calisthenics, stair climbing, rope skipping, mall walking, dancing, gymnasium games, etc.)
- Choose indoor activities, such as working out to an exercise video or stationary cycling, on days when you cannot exercise outside.
- Look on outdoor activities that depend on weather conditions (e.g., cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, outdoor swimming, outdoor tennis) as “bonuses” – extra activities possible when weather and circumstances permit