Barriers to being active

What happens if I can’t be active for a while or lose motivation?

Do not worry as this is normal. Think how many times you have tried to take up something new and how you felt and then think about what stopped you from being able to keep doing this?

Common obstacles include:

  • work pressure
  • family pressure
  • illness
  • not being able to afford it anymore
  • not having facilities where you live
  • not liking to do it on your own
  • losing motivation

 These are just a few of the issues we might face. The most important thing to remember is that they are all normal reasons and you should not feel guilty.

I don’t have time

This is a genuine barrier but it’s like anything you want to do, you have to prioritise and manage your schedule so that it fits in. It’s very easy to use time as an excuse, but you just need to work out ways around it.

Just remember that you don’t have to be active for long periods of time and setting aside a little time can go a long way. The amount of time you put aside needs to be a realistic within your current lifestyle.

  • Try to priorities physical activity as an essential part of your weekly routine
  • Try getting up 30 minutes earlier twice a week and use the time for a morning workout
  • Add an extra brisk walk to your day, whether that’s after your evening meal or instead of using your car for a short trip
  • Make your lunch hour count by taking in an exercise class or completing a short walk

I’m too tired

Tiredness is often a real barrier. You might get home from work at the end of the day and feel worn out, but often you are just experiencing mental fatigue. If you do go out and be physically active you’ll find you’re invigorated and it will give you a whole load more energy. Believe it or not, physical activity will often relieve your tiredness.

Set achievable, short term targets that are realistic to your current fitness levels.

I don’t have the willpower

A key part is staying motivated. One very powerful way is to make yourself accountable by doing things with a friend or family member, so you can encourage each other. It means you’ve got someone to report to, to explain why you didn’t turn up, or someone to share it with so you can share your lack of motivation.

A good technique for people who prefer to train alone is to start a diary or a blog. Being faced with an empty page if you miss a session can be a powerful incentive to keep going.

I don’t like exercise

Often when people say ‘I don’t like exercise’ what they really mean is they didn’t like sport at school – going out for a cross country run or playing team sports. Also, for people who haven’t been physically active for many years – or maybe never – they don’t think of themselves as an ‘exerciser’ or a sporty person.

But the good news is that there are so many ways of being active, it’s just a case of finding something you enjoy. This could be jogging, tennis or badminton, it might be walking, mountain-biking, canoeing, aqua aerobics, or ‘spinning’, which is a term for stationary cycling in a gym or at home. There are so many physical activities available to us now.

Try to complete a variety of different activities; don’t just stick to walking or running. Why not try swimming or dancing? If you don’t enjoy your activity you’re much less likely to continue.

Its hard work

People often think it is going to be hard work and therefore don’t even start being active or they start out and feel it’s too hard and so they give up. So the secret is to start slowly and build up gradually, until you can go further and faster, and you forget it was hard in the beginning.

The weather is too bad

Lots of people struggle in bad weather if they are physically active outside, as they don’t like the dark or the cold; however, some conditions are more enjoyable than others. Try being active at home, choosing a warmer, dryer day to exercise or join a local gym or swimming pool!

 If you do physical activity outside think about how well you feel after the session and visualise that hot drink or that hot shower and how much better you feel having made the effort.

There are advantages to outdoor activity too. You may end up burning more calories outside than in the gym and if you’re self-conscious you can put layers of clothes on and a hat, and if there are people around they’re not going to recognise you.

I’ve missed a session. I’ll never get back on track

It happens to everybody; no one sails through never missing a single session. It’s normal and the thing is not to make it a reason to stop you from continuing your activity or exercise programme and becoming more sedentary again. Just start again and remember you’re not starting right back at the beginning. You may have to adjust what you have been doing, but you’ll get back to where you were, faster. The body adapts quickly – especially if it’s doing something it’s familiar with.

It’s too expensive

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to go walking or running. There are lots of free walking groups in Wiltshire to make it a more fun and sociable activity. Second hand exercise equipment can also be very reasonable if you’d prefer to cycle or work out from home.

I’m too self conscious to exercise

You don’t necessarily need to join a gym to improve your health. Try a home fitness DVD, invest in a piece of stationary home exercise equipment or simply introduce a few additional trips up and down the stairs into your new routine. Once your fitness levels and confidence increases so does your exercise opportunities. Why not try the Couch to 5k in nine weeks?

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