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Overcoming barriers to exercise

Reviewed 10/6/2023

Exercise barriers assessment

A lot of us face roadblocks when it comes to exercise. But for every hurdle, there's a solution—maybe even several.

To get tips on overcoming the exercise hurdles you face, take the following assessment.

Note: This assessment is not intended to be a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider.

I don't have time to exercise.

Chances are you have more downtime than you realize—if you look for it. Keep close track of your daily activities for a full week. In all likelihood, you'll discover pockets of time you can reserve for exercise. You might walk or jog during part of your lunch hour or swap mid-morning coffee breaks for exercise breaks. Be creative.

I think exercise is boring.

Try pairing up with a friend for workouts. With a buddy beside you on a treadmill or stationary bike, exercise will be less tiresome.

Alternatively, challenge yourself. Setting a goal—such as completing a 5K race—helps make workouts meaningful.

In addition, add some variety to your routine. For example, if you typically swim try substituting another activity (such as walking) for a few days each week.

I'm too tired to exercise at the end of the work day.

Try scheduling your workouts before work, perhaps by getting up a half-hour earlier than you usually do and starting your mornings with a run or some other type of exercise.

I don't have anyone to watch my kids while I exercise.

See if you can trade babysitting time with a friend or family member who also has kids. Or while your children nap or are busy playing, be active at home. Use an exercise video, do some sit-ups or jump rope.

Better yet, if your children are old enough, make exercise a family affair. Hike with your children, kick a soccer ball together or share a game of tag.

I travel too much to stick to an exercise program.

Save on taxi fares; ask at your hotel's front desk for a local map and walk whenever possible. If your hotel has a workout room, take advantage of it.

And always remember to pack a jump rope or exercise tube. This can be your plan B if your hotel doesn't have a gym or pool.

I don't have the right clothes to exercise.

Wear anything that's comfortable. Just make sure your shoes fit well.

I don't want to spend a lot of money to join a gym or buy workout gear.

You don't need to spend a lot of money to exercise. You can get exercise through everyday activities like gardening or playing with your kids. You can also make your own workout gear. For example, strengthen your muscles by lifting plastic milk jugs filled with water or sand.

If you want to join a gym, look into ways to make it cheaper. For example, find out if your employer offers discounted gym memberships.

Since I'm not overweight, exercise doesn't seem that important to me.

Dropping pounds is only one reason to add exercise to your routine. Being active can improve your mood, help you sleep, and boost your energy level. It also helps lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. And those are just a few of the many benefits of regular exercise.

I don't want to be sore after working out.

Exercise shouldn't hurt if you go slow and ease into any new workout or activity. You can also avoid sore muscles by warming up and cooling down.

I'm too shy to exercise around other people.

Go solo. Pick an activity without a potential audience. Work out at home with an exercise video or walk on your own.

I have a health condition, and I'm worried that exercise will make it worse.

Share your concerns with your doctor. Chances are your doctor will encourage you to exercise. That's because most health problems actually improve with physical activity.

Use common sense and caution when working out. Always stop exercising if you feel pain or are out of breath, dizzy, faint or nauseous.

I'm not skilled enough for complicated exercises.

Stick to the basics, such as walking, jogging or climbing stairs. Also consider signing up for an exercise group or class.

It's too cold (or hot) outside to exercise.

Find an indoor activity, such as walking inside a nearby mall or working out at home with an exercise video. Become a member of a gym or community center—ideally one that lets you pay only for months when the weather is an issue, rather than for the whole year.

Learn more about exercise.

For more information on the benefits of exercise, visit the Fitness and Exercise topic center.


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