10 Hacks to Overcome Common Barriers to Exercise by Cari Culp, RD

If you’re finding it extremely difficult to get into a consistent exercise routine you’re not alone. Until you get into the habit, it seems there can be a million excuses as to why you can’t exercise. Although diet is the biggest contributor to your health, exercise is extremely important as well. For most of us however, knowing we need to exercise just isn’t enough to get us in the habit, it takes planning and strategy. Here are some ways to overcome common exercise barriers that have been helpful for many of my clients.
1. Mark it on your calendar – if it seems life is too busy, look at your week ahead on the weekend and plan exact days and times you can fit in exercise. Go ahead and put it on your calendar so nothing else gets booked during that time.
2. Get rid of the all or nothing attitude – if you can only do 15 minutes of cardio as opposed to your planned 45, don’t stress. Just do 15 minutes and make it a good 15 minutes. This is much better than doing nothing and more importantly, it keeps you in the habit of exercising so doing it again the next day is much easier.
3.  When family responsibilities take precedence – try to weave exercise into your parenting duties. Go for a walk, bike ride, swim or hike with the kids. If you haven’t already, consider joining a gym with childcare. This provides some wonderful “you time” that will help you be a better parent. You can even have the kids participate in an exercise video with you. My 4 year old loves to do this. It may be a little distracting for you but again, this is better than nothing.
4. If you hit the snooze button too many times – consider hiring a personal trainer who will be expecting you to be there. You can also pre-pay for the sessions to increase motivation.
5. If you are feeling too tired after work – find an upbeat workout playlist you like and get that going as soon as you get off work. Research shows that music increases energy and exercise performance, so use this simple strategy to get you moving. Also, check in with yourself to see if you have had enough food to give you energy. If you haven’t eaten since lunch, then you would likely benefit from an afternoon snack. Just be sure it contains protein and 1 serving of complex carbs to sustain you.
6. If exercise just isn’t appealing to you – have something else you can look forward to doing while you exercise. Listening to music and podcasts are my personal favorites but other options include listening to books on tape and watching tv.
7. If weather is stopping you, don’t let it – there are many alternatives. Part of this goes back to planning. When you add exercise to your calendar, take a look at the weather and plan accordingly. This may mean going for a walk or run in the early morning or evening to beat the heat or changing the exercise environment to a gym or your living room. We are never going to be able to control the weather and there are really only a few months when it is not too hot or cold so using weather as an excuse will not get you very far. Be sure to have a backup plan.
8. If you are confused about what you should be doing – hire a personal trainer. Even if it is for a short time, he or she can get you started on a plan to help you achieve your goals and walk you through specific exercises to help you feel comfortable.
9. If you are too shy to go to the gym – remember, not every gym is the same. Some are strictly for women, some have a little something for everyone and others are smaller and have a more intimate feel. Wright down what you want in a gym, ask like-minded friends where they go and take a tour of some gyms in your area to find the right fit for you.
10. If the cost of a gym membership or personal trainer is not in your budget – not to worry! There are many free options like fitnessblender.com which provides hundreds of free workout videos led by personal trainers. There are also a number of free exercise videos that can be found on YouTube or Amazon Prime. Outdoor exercise like walking, running or hiking is also a great option when possible.
Remember, it only takes 3 weeks to form a habit and that is the hardest part! Hopefully these strategies will help you get over the hump. Here’s to a stronger, healthier you. You can do this!

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