This year’s National Fitness Day has the aim to remind people that this day is just one step in making physical activity a part of your daily life or rather, creating a fitness lifestyle. Which is why we thought we’d look at eliminating the barriers to exercise to help you be active on National Fitness Day 2023 and beyond.
To simplify the types of barriers we have they can be split into external or internal barriers. External barriers are environmental and contextual, while internal ones consist of personal factors.
Thanks to the advancement in technology, people’s lives have become generally easier and with it less active, so more barriers are formed from our own personal perspectives. These are the most common internal barriers to activity:
- Lack of motivation
- Finding exercise boring or unenjoyable
- Lack of confidence
- Lack of, or concern of skill level
- Fear of injury or past trauma relating to exercise
- Inability to self-manage, including set goals, track and reward progress
- Unease with change
While not all of these barriers are able to be fully removed, some can be worked around or at the very least the overall number of barriers can be reduced so overcoming one or two may not seem so difficult.
However if you’re already considering becoming more active you’re already well on your way to getting rid of some of these barriers! For example, unease with change or lack of motivation, you may be coming around to the idea of changing your life for the better and found your reason to.
What’s important to remember is overcoming these barriers starts and ends with you. Our greatest advice is, if it were your friend coming to you with this problem what would you say?
Where we live and our external situation can massively impact our activity but arguably it’s easier to overcome as there are more options suited to a variety of situations. Some of these barriers are:
- Lack of time
- Lacking community; friends, family or companionship for support or encouragement
- Non-availability or inconvenience of close enough facilities or transportation to get there
- Family obligations
Whilst you may have more or less external barriers in your environment than these, they will typically fit into two categories, social or physical. Which means it’s easier to navigate finding solutions. One thing to remember with these barriers is to be open minded about the ways to overcome them as there may be more than one solution.
Advice for Eliminating The Barriers to Exercise:
- Our most obvious is, if you’re lucky enough to have a 24hr gym near you it can allow you to make time for exercise thanks to the flexibility to attend. By extending your waking hours even by just a little or going to places via a stop at gym, day or night you can get your daily exercise in.
- Highlight four or more 20 minute slots in your weekly schedule that you can swap for a more active task. For example, park further from your destination and walk for 10 minutes or exercise whilst completing other tasks like watching TV.
- Reduce the time it takes to prepare for and complete the activity. If you’re at home but only have 20 minutes to spare it may not mean you can get to a gym but that’s the perfect amount of time to pop on some trainers and run/walk round the nearby roads or paths. Speed up the process further by having what you need to do the highlighted slot for exercise ready to go beforehand. That could mean when you get dressed for the day you also lay out your exercise clothing, or when you pack your lunch or breakfast the night before work you’re also putting trainers in your bag.
- The outside world is always free to use! It might not be how you pictured staying fit but it counts just as much. Workout at home with body weight or go for a run/walk outside and the only thing you’ll burn are calories.
- You might be able to take advantage of special discounts depending on where you live or what gyms are accessible to you, currently we’ve got an offer available automatically at checkout.
- There may, if you’re a member of a group or community, be applications you can utilise to help fund your exercise through sponsorship, concessions or bursaries. Find out more about these if you’re struggling to fund your health care with your GP or your relevant community.
Lacking Support or Encouragement
- More often than not, when you start exercising you’ll become part of a community of like minded individuals. Join a group exercise class or a sports group and you’ll share this interest and receive encouragement from your peers to maintain it.
- Participating in singular sports or activities is no exception, you can find support through linking with a personal trainer or coach which will benefit you in more ways than one. To add to this, there is a worldwide community of fitness enthusiasts that are waiting to support you online. Tapping into the power of social media allows you to reach a wider community.
- If you don’t have the encouragement you need at home, it might be that you can explain your reasons for making this change to help friends and family and address what you need from them to allow them to better understand and therefore support you. Failing that you could also implement both of the above points.
Non-availability or Inconvenience of Facilities
- Like with the points above, just moving your body more within your current environment or schedule is totally possible anywhere. You could take a short lap round your office once every hour to increase step count or follow along with a workout video at home with your body weight only whilst the dinner cooks.
- There may be an opportunity if you are struggling to attend a group class or gym where you could share transport with another attendee, friend or neighbour.
- You could campaign to your local council to support active transportation, write legislation for healthier communities or create new recreation facilities.
- Share responsibilities with a friend, partner or family member. It might be that you could take turns in watching children whilst the other goes to exercise, this could be done with a friend who also has kids.
- You could exercise with them, going out to the park for a walk or even playing catch or jumping games can be great exercise for everyone.
- Exercise when they do. Many youth clubs cater for this or you could train in the gym while they participate in an extracurricular activity.
- You could use home equipment or workout at home whilst they are asleep.
- There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing… While we agree with this statement we also want to say take care in all weather conditions and be prepared. Remember your skin is waterproof and you’ll be getting sweaty anyway so the rain shouldn’t stop you.
- Gyms are great if it’s a heatwave for one reason only, air conditioning.
- Extreme weather isn’t recommended you continue your usual daily activities in, but it is possible to make adjustments for. Working out at home may be your only option in some cases.
As we stated above, if you’re thinking of becoming more active then you’ve found your motivation. Dig deeper into the ‘Why’ behind the ‘Should’ to really put more stress on its importance and turn motivation into discipline. Which is the goal to becoming successful at maintaining a fitness lifestyle.
Boring or Unenjoyable Exercise
Don’t do it! You might be thinking this goes against the entire essence of our whole blog, but on the contrary. If you don’t enjoy something you aren’t going to want to repeat it. There are so many different ways to be active, there will be one you enjoy, it’s just a matter of finding it. You could even switch it up every time you get bored of the same exercise routine to keep things exciting.
We addressed this barrier in a recent social media post, mentioning how having a personal trainer can provide you external belief that will spark something in you. You could also share with a friend or family member what your goal is so when you update them with your progress they can instil confidence in you. There’s also so many different ways to be active in private if body confidence is a struggle for you. For example, having a ladies only area in a gym can allow for a respectful space to train.
Now at risk of repeating ourselves too much, we also want to say having a personal trainer or coach can eliminate this barrier entirely. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, we all start somewhere. Finding a guide online or in-person can help you advance.
Fear, Injury and Past Trauma
Being fearful of the context you exercise in can be solved by adapting the environment to you (see Confidence) or by changing you to the environment through your expanding comfort zones. However being fearful of the exercise you’re doing, is a different ball game. This may relate to deeper issues involving past trauma or injury. In which case we highly suggest consulting a healthcare professional, a qualified rehabilitation coach or again, a personal trainer who can provide advice on safety measures, exercises to avoid and help you overcome fear.
Inability to Self-Manage
Guess what? We’re going to say it again, a personal trainer has the knowledge and experience to assist you in doing just this. If you can’t self-manage, get someone else to! They don’t call it a personal trainer for no reason, they’ll help you discover your goal, navigate getting there and reward you when you do. It doesn’t have to be a PT who does all of this for you, if you can confide in someone else it can give you accountability.
Unease with Change
Not anymore! It may be hard at first but you’ll get there, just remember to take small steps (like participating in National Fitness Day) and you’ll have made a positive impact on your life forever.
Has anyone ever said to you that being more active actually gives you more energy? They’re right, you may feel tired immediately post-exercise but this will come back around when you need it most. Being active impacts your sleep positively, when you sleep better you feel more energetic when awake.
Now it’s time to get moving!
Highlight which barriers you need help with and take a look into the solutions advised. Getting past the barriers themselves is a massive achievement so make sure to keep up the progress.
Like this? Then why not check out our blog on How to Start Exercising in a Gym to Improve Mental Health