We all know that our bodies need movement to function and to help us live well and flourish. We know that we “should” exercise for our health and yet despite so many public health messages and the fitness industry using every sales technique in the book we still don’t move.
So why not? There are so many barriers to exercise and today I am going to share some life hacks to overcome them.
Barrier 1: Hating exercise
As humans we are not born hating movement, small children play and explore. But over time we build up beliefs about not being good enough, or we have a bad experience in a sport, or we find that its no longer fun and it just creates discomfort. The moment you anticipate that you are going to hate something you are going to be so vigilant towards finding the evidence that proves your existing belief.
Instead, challenge your belief by allowing yourself to explore and play with movement. Sign up for something new that you have not experienced and allow yourself to be rubbish at it. If you can’t bear the idea of exercise in its traditional sense then get active in the garden, going for a walk, dancing. Anything that gets the heart rate up for over 10 minutes counts.
Barrier 2: Not enough energy
If we are ill or injured rest. However, we can also feel fatigued from not enough movement.
We can get in the trap of telling ourselves “When we have more energy, we will exercise, and this will make us healthy”.
We need to flip this belief as the thinking is distorted. Instead remind yourself “To be healthy, we will exercise, and this will give more energy”.
Barrier 3: Exercising for the wrong reasons
If you are exercising to punish yourself for eating a chocolate bar, or because you hate your body it is never going to be sustainable.
When you choose to exercise do it for compassion and love of your body. Reframe it as moving your body to nurture it.
Barrier 4: Anxiety
Anxiety is designed to keep us safe by holding us in our comfort zone. Of course, we don’t want to do something new and unfamiliar, who knows if people will laugh at us, or if you will be able to do the activity. When you get worries and “what ifs” know that it is your brain trying to protect you but that it no longer serves you, the only way to dispel the anxiety is to challenge it and prove those worries wrong. Be brave and step into the fear, the fear will reduce.
Barrier 5: Discomfort
Our bodies want to conserve energy. We don’t want to get out of breath or use our muscles unless we have to. So yes, it will be uncomfortable. But the discomfort isn’t awful. Your body will quickly adapt to the new challenge and will start to find things easier.
Barrier 6: Time
To start doing something new you need to create time. There are still only 24 hours in the day and some of those are taken up with sleep and commitments. To find time for exercise you have to schedule it in and stop doing something else. Put it in your phone calendar and set a reminder.
Barrier 7: It not being part of your routine
This links closely with time. It can be easier to create a new routine if you tag it onto existing activities that you do automatically. I often recommend leaving gym stuff on the toilet seat or on top of the work clothes so that it’s just as easy to get changed into the gym kit.
Barrier 8: Worried about not having the right kit
You do not need sparkly new gym trainers and matching outfit to exercise. For most activities as long as you have clothes you can move in and protective well fitting trainers you will be fine. If you are unsure of what you need to bring check the website or ask the staff – they are there to help.
Barrier 9: Not wanting to go alone
You may be worried that everyone else in the exercise class, sport or bootcamp will know each other and be comfortable. This is never the case. If you can go anyway and give someone a friendly smile and ask where you need to be. Alternatively, ask a friend to go with you.
Barrier 10: Fear about not being fit enough
The reason other people may be fit is because they have been doing it and it works. There is no such thing as leaving it too late, you are never too old or too unfit to start learning how to love movement. If you are unsure about if exercise will be right for you can always speak to your doctor. If you have any health conditions look for someone with a specialism and understanding of your condition.