Barriers to exercise: The top 5 excuses not to exercise and how to overcome them

We all know that regular exercise is important to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing our risk of disease. But sticking to a regular exercise program is not easy. Everyone experiences barriers that prevent them from exercising. Understanding your barriers and learning how to overcome them is essential in making exercise a part of your daily life!

Top 5 reasons people avoid exercise:

1. I don’t have time to exercise.
We all have busy lives. Exercise takes time, and finding that time is sometimes difficult. I find that people are most successful at overcoming this barrier when this time is planned out.
- Schedule your exercise time, just like you are scheduled to go to work or you schedule a doctor’s appointment. Write it in your calendar or keep a mental note—but stick to it.
- Don’t forget your gym bag. Pack it the night before and put it in your car. Be prepared and ready.
- Make use of your off days. Why can’t you fit in exercise on days you don’t work?
- Let’s be honest: Some days you just don’t have time, but can you fit something into your day? Take a short walk over lunch, park further away or take the stairs.

2. I’m too tired to exercise after work.
Guess what? Exercise boosts your energy! It is hard to get the motivation to get moving, but I promise you will feel better about yourself after.
- Try exercising in the morning. Can you start your day earlier and exercise? Think of the morning boost of energy you will give yourself. Get the body started early and rev up your metabolism.
- Again, make your lunch time count. Keep a pair of shoes at work and go for a brisk walk over lunch.
- Go to bed earlier. If you are tired at the end of the day, make sure you are giving your body the rest it needs.

3. I can’t afford a gym membership.
You don’t need one to exercise effectively. There are so many inexpensive forms of exercise. Use your own body weight, buy a workout video, or invest in dumbbells or resistance bands. You can walk anywhere, outside, at your workplace or at the mall. If you don’t know what to do or where to begin, meet with a fitness professional to get you started.

4. I don’t like exercise and never have. Or, exercise is boring.
Let’s be honest: You are in the majority of the population. Most people don’t like to exercise; it’s the feeling of accomplishment they have after that motivates them to continue. So how can you make it enjoyable and something that you don’t dread doing?
- Choose activities that you enjoy. If you hate walking on a treadmill, what’s the likelihood that you are actually going to do it … regularly?
- Vary your routine. Don’t do the same thing every time. Mix it up to reduce boredom.
- Have a partner. Find someone with like goals and make them your exercise buddy. It could be a friend, relative or co-worker. Use each other to stay motivated.

5. I don’t like to exercise around others.
Not everyone is fit to work out in a gym or with a buddy. You may prefer to go it alone, which is sometimes hard. Just keep reminding yourself that you are doing this for you and to improve your health and well-being.
- Avoid the crowd and exercise at home. As I said before, exercise videos and inexpensive home equipment are just as effective as going to the gym.
- Make a commitment to yourself. You want to be healthier and feel better about your appearance. Exercise doesn’t only make you more fit, but it boosts your self-confidence.

By Jessica Hess, MA, ATC
Sports Medicine Coordinator, Ridgeview Rehab Specialties