How to Overcome the Most Common Exercise Barrier

Updated on April 10, 2018
Darleen Barnard profile image

Darleen Barnard is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist, Behavior Change Specialist, and John Maxwell Certified Coach.

Finding Time to Exercise

Anyone who is new to exercise knows that starting a new exercise routine can be challenging. In fact, ANY new routine in life can be challenging! As I have worked with clients over the years, I have found that it can be difficult to break old habits and form new ones, but the most common thing I hear from people is that they simply don’t have the time to exercise. I agree that we are all busy; however, when we start to dig a little deeper we find it isn’t really an issue with time. We find it is an issue with mindfulness, energy, and priorities.

Mindfulness

The first step to finding time to exercise is to understand how you are currently spending your time. How many minutes per day do you spend watching TV? How many minutes per day do you spend surfing the internet? How much time do you spend on Facebook or your favorite social media channel? To help you identify how you spend your time, create a time journal. Spend a few days keeping track of your time in 15 minute increments. From the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed, what are you spending your time on? If you work out of the home, you can block that time off as “work” but make sure you track your time before and after work in 15 minute increments.

One way to better track your time is by using a tool like RescueTime.com. These types of time management tools will help you manage distractions and will track how much time you are spending on certain websites, block distracting sites, track offline activity, set daily goals, send weekly summary reports, and will even give you a productivity score! This is just one tool that is available, but we need to raise our awareness and understand where our time is going so we can find time to exercise.

Energy Level

After we identify those “time wasters” or lower priority tasks, we need to think about the time of the day we have the most energy. Physical activity, especially when we are not used to it, requires both mental and physical energy to get started. It is unrealistic to think you are going to exercise in the evening if you are absolutely exhausted after work. So if you watch TV for 60 minutes in the evening on average and you spend the first 30 minutes of every day on Facebook, maybe you can check Facebook in the evening while you are watching TV and then spend 30 minutes in the morning exercising.

Think back to the last time you had a consistent exercise routine. When did you exercise? Some people are naturally more likely to exercise in the morning – I am one of them. It requires a lot more mental energy for me to lace up my running shoes in the afternoon or evening than it does for me to do it in the morning. Other people get their second wind in the late afternoon and find it easier to exercise then. Take a few minutes to think about your energy levels throughout the day and your schedule. When are you MOST likely to exercise and stick with it? If you aren’t sure, keep track of this as you are completing your time journal above.

Prioritize

Now that you know how you are currently spending your day and you have considered when you are most likely to exercise, you must make exercise a priority! Exercise must be more important than watching TV, checking email, surfing Facebook, etc. Exercise must be at the top of your priority list along with eating and sleeping. It is a fundamental necessity, especially since a lot of us are sedentary though out the day. Make it a priority and you will find the time.

Health Benefits of Exercise

One way to help you make it a priority is to consider the following health benefits of exercise:

  1. Improves balance and posture
  2. Improves muscle strength and muscle balance across and between joints
  3. Improves energy levels
  4. Improves mood and reduces depression; increase confidence
  5. Reduces risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) – the leading cause of death in the US
  6. Strengthens the lungs
  7. Controls weight
  8. Strengthens bones
  9. Helps prevent cancer
  10. Regulates blood pressure

If necessary, post this list of health benefits where you will see it first thing in the morning and in the evening.

Set Goals

Another way to make exercise a priority is to set some goals. If you have always wanted to run a 5K, set a goal to do it now! If you want to lose weight, set a goal to do it now! Set an end goal and then research or work with a professional to put a plan together to help you achieve that end goal.

By increasing our awareness of how we are spending our time, identifying the time of the day we are most likely to exercise, and making exercise a priority, we can begin to overcome that time barrier that holds us back from establishing an exercise routine. Good luck and enjoy the journey!

© 2018 Darleen Barnard

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