Barriers to Exercise

Regular physical activity is good for you (no doubt). Government and health agencies now suggest that we should participate in at least 30mins of physical activity every day. But how many of us actually do? Realistically not many.

What’s Stopping You?

Something that keeps someone from being or becoming physically fit is a barrier. Identifying and understanding your personal particular barriers, and creating answers and strategies to overcome them may help you make physical activity part of your daily life.

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Environmental Barriers

Social environments such as school, work, family, and friends can significantly influence your level of physical activity.

However there are many other factors that influence activity. The accessibility and location of parks, sports clubs, facilities, exercise groups and recreational centres as well as density of housing, and availability of transport or public transport plays an even greater role in promoting or discouraging physical activity.

Physical and Personal Barriers

Technological advances have created a less active society. The most common reasons adults aren’t more physically active are:

  • Lack time • Lack ability
  • Inconvenient
  • Boring
  • Lack self-motivation
  • Injury (real or feared)
  • Not enjoyable
  • •Lack social support
  • Lack willpower
  • Lack appropriate/safe environment

Suggestions for Overcoming Common Barriers

Listed below are 10 personal barriers to physical activity. One or more might sound too familiar to you. Perhaps you will find a suggestion or two that might help you become more physically active.

  • Lack of time
    • Identify available time slots. Monitor your daily activities for one week. Identify at least three 30-minute time slots you could use for physical activity.
    • 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.
    • Make time for physical activity. For example, walk, jog, or swim during your lunch hour, or take fitness breaks instead of coffee breaks.
    • Select activities requiring minimal time, such as walking, jogging, or stair climbing.
  • Social influence
    • Explain your interest in physical activity to friends and family. Ask them to support your efforts.
    • Invite friends and family members to exercise with you. Plan social activities involving exercise and then go for a drink.
    • Join a group or club, such as a local gym or sports team.
  • Lack of energy
    • Schedule physical activity for times in the day or week when you feel energetic.
    • Convince yourself that if you give it a chance, physical activity will increase your energy level; then, try it.
  • Lack of motivation
    • 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.
    • Exercise first thing in the morning so that you have finished for the day and can not make any excuses.
    • Join an exercise group or class.
  • Fear of injury
    • Learn how to warm up and cool down to prevent injury.
    • Learn how to exercise appropriately considering your age, fitness level, skill level, and health status.
    • Get advice from a trained professional.
    • Choose activities involving minimum risk.
  • Lack of skill
    • Select activities requiring no new skills, such as walking, climbing stairs, or jogging.
    • Exercise with friends who are at the same skill level as you are.
    • Find a friend who is willing to teach you some new skills.
    • Select activities that require minimal facilities or equipment, such as walking, jogging or a home exercise programme.
    • Take a class to develop new skills.
  • Weather conditions
    • Develop a set of regular activities that are always available regardless of weather (indoor cycling, aerobic classes, swimming, stair climbing, dancing, the gym etc.)
    • Look at outdoor activities that depend on weather conditions (local walks, dry slope skiing, outdoor tennis, cycling tracks etc.)
  • Family obligations
    • Trade babysitting time with a friend, neighbour, 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 and exercise together.
    • Get a bike 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 or their nap time).
  • Retirement years
    • Look upon your retirement as an opportunity to become more active instead of less. Spend more time gardening, walking the dog, and playing with your grandchildren.
    • Learn a new skill you’ve always been interested in, such as ballroom dancing, line dancing or swimming.
    • Now that you have the time, make regular physical activity a part of every day. Go for a walk every morning or every evening before dinner. Treat yourself to an exercise bike and ride every day while reading a book or magazine or newspaper.

Benefits of Exercise

Now we’ve taken a look at some of the barriers to exercising, let’s take a look at some of the benefits!

Health Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity:

  • Reduce or maintain body weight or body fat
  • Build and maintain healthy muscles, bones, and joints
  • Reduce depression and anxiety
  • Enhanced work, recreation, and sport performance
  • Relieves insomnia
  • Improves muscle tone, strength and flexibility
  • Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move without falling
  • Reduce the risk of premature death
  • Reduce the risk of developing and/or dying from heart disease
  • Reduce high blood pressure or the risk of developing high blood pressure
  • Reduce high cholesterol or the risk of developing high cholesterol
  • Reduce the risk of developing colon cancer and breast cancer
  • Reduce the risk of developing diabetes
  • Improve psychological well-being .
  • Boosts self-image

Benefits of Aerobic Exercise:

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  • Reduced body fat and improved weight control
  • Increased blood supply to muscles and ability to use oxygen
  • Increased threshold for lactic acid accumulation
  • Increased maximal oxygen consumption (VO 2max)
  • Improvement in cardivascular/cardiorespiratory function (heart and lungs)
    • Increased maximal cardiac output (amount of blood pumped every minute)
    • Increased maximal stroke volume (amount of blood pumped with each beat)
    • Increased blood volume and ability to carry oxygen
    • Reduced workload on the heart (myocardial oxygen consumption) for any given submaximal exercise intensity
  • Lower heart rate and blood pressure at any level of submaximal exercise
  • Lower resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with high blood pressure
  • Increased HDL Cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
  • Decreased blood triglycerides
  • Improved glucose tolerance and reduced insulin resistance

Benefits of Strength Training:

  • Increased muscular strength
  • Increased strength of tendons and ligaments
  • Potentially improves flexibility (range of motion of joints)
  • Reduced body fat and increased lean body mass (muscle mass)
  • Potentially decreases resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure
  • Positive changes in blood cholesterol
  • Improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity
  • Improved strength, balance, and functional ability in older adults.

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