Struggling to get active? Whether you struggle to find the motivation or have too much going on to fit in regular activity you are not alone. Most people will, at some point, find various roadblocks on the highway to health and fitness. So how do you break through these or find a way round them? Let’s look at some common barriers and share some tactics to help.
‘I don’t like exercise’
Exercising doesn’t have to mean heading to the gym, or doing a sport. And not liking it is often tied to our experiences of PE when we were younger. However, there are so many different ways you can be active, you just need to find something something you enjoy.
‘I don’t have the time’
Granted we have busy lives. But it is a matter of priorities – we make the time for the things we want or decide to do. So you need to apply a bit of ‘DO-ciding’ decide what you are going to do and do it! Think of your exercise as a bit of ‘me’ time and break from all of the other demands on you – you deserve a bit of me time don’t you! Breaking up activity into smaller chunks might make it easier to fit it in. A recent TV progamme highlighted how people found it easier to fit 3 x 10min brisk walks into their day than trying to achieve 10,000 steps a day – not only was it easier to do, but it was also more effective exercise.
If family or work obligation are a problem, get them involved. Cycling, walking, swimming and many more can all be great family activities. Could you get work colleagues interested in running, walking or other activity at lunchtime?
‘I’m too tired’
It can be difficult to persuade yourself to be active after a hard day at work. Often, unless you have a physical job, the tiredness you feel may just be mental fatigue. Doing some exercise can give your brain a break and leaving you feeling more energised. Plus the physical activity can help you sleep better and feel more energised the next day too.
‘I don’t have the willpower’
Remembering why you want to be active and setting yourself realistic short term goals will help you get motivated. Exercising with a friend or family member can help. You can encourage each other. It means you’ve got someone to report to, to explain why you didn’t turn up, or someone you can share your lack of motivation with. You can also get the same motivation from joining a club, like a local beginners running club or beginners class. If you prefer to train alone, you could use an exercise app to monitor your progress. Being able to see your progress should help spur you on.
‘Exercise is too hard or uncomfortable’
Many people throw themselves into getting active, doing too much too soon. As a result it hurts the next day, or worse they injure themselves and are put off or can’t continue. Again find an activity you enjoy. Then start slowly and build up gradually, especially if you haven’t been active for a while. Remember slow progress is still making progress.
‘The weather’s bad’
With the UK’s weather there will be times when heading outside to exercise doesn’t appeal. If you arrange to exercise with a friend or group you are more likely to get out there. And sometimes getting back inside after having done it anyway gives an extra glow of smug satisfaction.
You could always have a plan B. This can be a simple set of exercises you can run through at home when the weather is bad (e.g. bodyweight exercise). Or it may be the option to head to a gym or alternate class.
‘I’ve got out of the habit’
It does happen to everyone. Whether it’s an injury, holidays, or the many other ways that life gets in the way, we all drop out of our regular activity and have to get ourselves back into the habit. Getting back into the swing of it again isn’t easy, so find a spark to get you going. You could be sign up for an event, get a friend involved, use an app or activity tracker, or find a new class or activity to sign up to. Also remember why you were doing it, how you felt and the progress you were making when you were regularly active and use that as motivation.
‘I’ve tried before and failed’
Changing your habits isn’t easy and everyone struggles to get into and stick with new habits. Everyone has set backs. Like many things in life, sometimes we need to keep on trying or working at it to achieve the things we want (driving tests, promotions, exams etc). If you think about what might stop you sticking to your new activity routine and plan ways to overcome these it will help you when these thing crop up and test your resolve.
‘I’m not fit enough or confident enough to exercise’
If you are not active and haven’t been for some time these can be genuine worries. However, gradually starting to become more active will slowly increase your fitness and your confidence in your ability.
See your GP for a full medical check-up before starting any physical activity program, particularly if you are obese, over 40, haven’t exercised in a long time or have a chronic medical condition. In most cases they will encourage you to be more active and may be able to offer support and assistance to help you make changes to your lifestyle.
Choose an activity that feels comfortable and start slowly. Begin by exercising for about 10 minutes every day. Gradually increase the time and intensity as your fitness improves. This way your confidence about being able to exercise will grow along side your fitness. If an activity hurts, decrease the intensity or stop altogether. Pain is a sign that there is something wrong.
‘I don’t know what to do’
A quick search on the internet, app store or in a bookshop will provide lots of information. Possible too much information leaving you confused about what is the best thing to do. The best form of activity is something you enjoy, but the main things is to start doing something, even if it is just going for a short walk everyday while you work on longer term plans for being active.
Whatever you decide to, do look for beginner’s classes to join in. If you join a gym ask them to give you a beginner programme to follow. Prefer to go it alone, download a Couch 2 5K programme or similar for your choice of activity. Still need help to work out what to do, then a few sessions with a personal trainer will give you a kick start and help you find what is right for you.