Most of us are familiar with the most common barrier to a regular physical activity routine — the lack of time. Work, family obligations and other realities of daily life often get in the way of our best intentions to be more active. There are many additional barriers that vary by the person and life circumstance.
If you’re committed to a physical activity program and setting goals for yourself, it’s helpful to first identify your personal barriers. By troubleshooting and developing tactics in advance, you’ll have better success overcoming them.
Here are some of the more common barriers and solutions for overcoming them:
- Barrier: Lack of time
- Solutions: Monitor your activities for one week and identify at least three, 30-minute slots you could use for physical activity. Select activities that you can fit into your home or work routine so you’re not wasting time on transportation to another venue to accomplish them. Walking in your neighborhood, climbing stairs at your office or exercising while you watch TV are all good options.
- Barrier: Friends and family don’t share your interest in physical activity
- Solutions: Explain your fitness and/or health improvement goals to friends and family and ask for their support. Invite friends to participate in physical activity with you. Join a local YMCA or walking club to find people with similar goals to offer support.
- Barrier: Lack of motivation and/or energy
- Solutions: Plan ahead. Schedule physical activity for specific times/days and “check” it off your list or calendar each time you complete it. Determine what time of day you feel more energetic and try to fit activity into that time frame. Join an exercise group or class and seek others in the group to help motivate you and keep you accountable to attending.
- Barrier: Lack of resources/equipment
- Solutions: Select activities that require minimal facilities or equipment, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope or calisthenics. Identify inexpensive, convenient resources in your community, such as parks and recreation programs, worksite wellness groups, walking clubs, etc.
- Barrier: Family caregiving obligations
- Solutions: Exercise with your kids — go for a walk together, play tag or other running games, get an aerobic dance or exercise tape for kids. You can spend time together, occupy the kids and ensure they’re getting the daily physical activity they need to stay healthy. If you have a specific class you like to attend, try alternating babysitting time with a neighbor.
- Barrier: Frequent work or leisure travel
- Solutions: Join a YMCA or YWCA and ask about reciprocal memberships that allow access to facilities in other cities. Pack a jump rope and resistance bands in your luggage. Book hotels that have a pool and/or fitness rooms.