Everyone can agree that regular exercise is important, so why do so many people struggle to stick with their fitness goals?
If you’ve encountered barriers holding you back from committing to a
fitness routine, you’re not alone. The health experts at the Mayo Clinic
offer simple ideas for overcoming the five most common hurdles to
Challenge 1: I don’t have enough time to exercise.
- Setting aside time to exercise can be a challenge, so it’s
important to use a little creativity to get the most out of your time.
- Squeeze in short walks: If you don’t have time for a full
workout, don’t sweat it. Shorter spurts of exercise, such as 10 minutes
of walking spaced throughout the day, offer benefits too.
- Get up early: If your days are packed and the evening hours are hectic, get up 30 minutes earlier twice a week to exercise.
- Drive less, walk more: Park in the back row of the parking lot or even a few blocks away and walk to your destination.
- Revamp your rituals: Your weekly Saturday matinee with the kids
could be reborn as your weekly bike ride, rock-climbing lesson, or trip
to the pool.
Challenge 2: I think exercise is boring.
It’s natural to grow weary of a repetitive workout day after day,
especially when you’re going it alone, but exercise doesn’t have to be
- Choose fun activities: You’ll be more likely to stay interested. Remember, anything that gets you moving counts.
- Vary the routine: Rotate among several activities — such as
walking, swimming, and cycling — to keep you on your toes while
conditioning different muscle groups.
- Join forces: Exercise with friends, relatives, neighbors, or
co-workers. You’ll enjoy the camaraderie and the encouragement of the
- Explore new options: Learn new skills while working out. Check
out exercise classes or sports leagues at a recreation center or health
Challenge 3: I’m self-conscious about how I look.
Fitness isn’t just about what you look like on the outside, it’s the
inside as well. Remind yourself what a great favor you’re doing for your
cardiovascular health, or focus on how much stronger you feel after a
- Avoid the crowd: If you’re uncomfortable exercising around
others, go solo at first. Try an exercise video or an activity-oriented
- Make an investment: Consider investing in home exercise
equipment like a stationary bicycle, treadmill, or a stair-climbing
machine that you can use at home on your own time.
- Focus on the future: Praise yourself for making a commitment to
your health. Remember that as you become fitter and more comfortable
exercising, your self-confidence is likely to improve as well.
Challenge 4: I’m too tired to exercise.
No energy to exercise? Without exercise, you’ll have no energy. It’s a
vicious cycle, but breaking the cycle with physical activity is one of
the best gifts you can give yourself.
- Try a morning workout: Hop on the treadmill or stationary bicycle while you listen to the radio or watch the morning news.
- Make lunchtime count: Keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk and take a brisk walk during your lunch break.
- Be prepared: Make sure you have comfortable shoes and
loose-fitting clothes for exercising readily available at home and in
Challenge 5: I can’t afford health club fees.
You don’t need a membership at an elite gym to get a great workout. Consider easy and free alternatives.
- Do strengthening exercises at home: Use inexpensive resistance
bands — lengths of elastic tubing that come in varying strengths — in
place of weights. Do pushups or squats using your body weight.
- Start a walking group: Round up friends, neighbors, or coworkers
for regular group walks. Plan routes through the neighborhood, along
local parks and trails, or in a nearby shopping mall.
- Take the stairs: Skip the elevator when you can and climb the stairs.
- Try your community center: Exercise classes offered through a
local recreation department or community education are often more
budget-friendly than an annual gym membership.
Visit healthcheckup.mayoclinic.org to learn more today.