Exercise barriers

Exercise barriers: Tips to overcome them

We hear plenty of reasons patients are unable to exercise. But it’s time to ask yourself the question, “Is not exercising worth the risk of chronic disease?”  We know that people who routinely exercise have lower blood sugars, less obesity, significantly reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and dementia.  If not now, when?  It’s time to set aside excuses. Make exercise a priority in your day with these simple suggestions.


  • Change your routines occasionally.
    • Do a variety of activities rather than just one or two (for example, try cross-training).
    • Work out with a friend or in a group.
    • Join a health club or take a fitness class.
    • Listen to music, watch TV or read while you work out.
    • Challenge yourself with new goals.
    • Experiment with interval training.
    • Learn more about proper technique and ideal form.
    • Get a new gadget or piece of equipment.

Feel like you don’t have a moment to spare for exercise? Or do you find it just plain boring? You’re not the only one. But if you anticipate potential barriers, you can effectively develop solutions to make exercise a priority. Try these ideas for overcoming common fitness obstacles, and exercise will become a normal part of your daily routine before you know it.

Lack of time

  • Break activity into shorter periods of time, such as 10-minute walks.
    • Identify current time wasters, such as sitting on the couch and watching TV.
    • Plan exercise into your daily schedule, as you would an appointment or meeting.
    • Reframe your concept of exercise to include many everyday activities, such as walking the dog.
    • Give yourself permission to make exercise a priority.


  • Work out at home or outdoors rather than at a club.
    • Choose activities that don’t require a special facility or equipment.
    • Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, such as walking or biking to do errands or using the stairs instead of the elevator.
    • Make use of cues or prompts to remind yourself to work out (keep your sneakers in your car, for example).
    • Choose activities that don’t depend on good weather or daylight.


  • Choose activities that you can do regardless of the weather, such as indoor cycling, strength exercises, indoor swimming, stair climbing, fitness DVDs, dancing or mall walking.

Lifestyle changes

  • Consider a moderate program of physical activity during stressful times.
    • Use exercise as time for yourself and a way to reduce stress.


  • Find out what fitness facilities, parks or walking paths are available where you’re going.
    • Walk around the airport terminal.
    • Stretch and walk during your flight, or take short walking breaks during a road trip.
    • Work out in your hotel room, and walk the halls and climb the stairs in your hotel.


  • Warm up and cool down when you exercise.
    • Talk to your doctor about how to exercise appropriately for your age, fitness level, skill level and health status.
    • Start slowly and give your body a chance to get used to increased activity.
    • Use the proper equipment, and dress for the weather conditions.
    • If you’ve been injured, ask your doctor or a physical therapist what you can still do. Choose physical activities involving uninjured parts of your body.


  • Avoid strenuous exercise when you’re sick, although you may be able to work out at a reduced intensity.
    • Don’t exercise if you have a fever, chest pain, generalized muscle aches, a hacking cough, diarrhea, chills, swollen lymph glands or are experiencing nausea, shortness of breath or extreme tiredness.


  • Vary the types of exercises, as well as their intensity and the order in which you do them.
    • Increase the length and intensity of your workouts gradually.
    • Build light workouts and rest days into your schedule.
    • Be sure to get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet.

Lack of facilities or resources

  • Select activities you can do on your own, such as walking, jogging or jumping rope.
    • Identify inexpensive, convenient community resources, such as park and recreation centers or community education programs.
    • Circumstances and challenges can change over time, so reevaluate your solutions as needed.

I encourage you to find your own rhythm when it comes to exercise: A little bit of discipline, and some love for your mind and body!   You can do it!