Breaking Barriers to Exercise

David Bowmaker, Life Fit Chartered Physiotherapist

At this time of year many of us feel compelled to engage with exercise, perhaps following a break from regular physical activity through a busy end to the year.  That is not the case for everyone and some may have other barriers getting in the way of exercising.  I will discuss some of the barriers we commonly encounter at Life Fit and suggest some strategies to overcome them, however I think a good starting point is actually looking at why we might want to exercise in the first place.

Engaging with regular exercise can provide a wide range of general health benefits e.g. 35% reduced risk of heart disease, 50% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, 30% reduction in early death, 83% lower rate of osteoarthritis, 30% reduction in depression and dementia to name but a few.  Sounds good doesn’t it?

It gets better….specific benefits can be gained through targeted exercise programs to improve weight management, improve sporting performance and can be used to help overcome illness or injury. Fantastic…..imagine if one medical intervention could provide all of this?

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So why wouldn’t we get started?  Why wouldn’t we just keep going?  All sounds pretty good right? If only it were that simple!  In this day and age we tend to pack our lives full which can provide time barriers to physical activity but also act as a mental barrier because we are tired so all we want to do at the end of a long busy day is chill out.  Of course, there can be other barriers such as illness or injury which can provide very specific challenges for individuals affected.  However it can be done!

If time is an issue, write things down that you need to do, including exercise (remember how important it is), allocate time required for each activity and prioritise them. Then look at a plan of a typical week and see where you might fit things in (or take things out!).

If you feel tired and think you couldn’t possibly exercise remember this: exercise gives you more energy, reduces the sense of fatigue and helps you sleep better.  Start small and feed off the energy boost that even a small amount of exercise will provide.

If you are someone who thinks “I don’t like exercise, it’s not for me” then remember that exercise doesn’t need to look (or feel) like exercise to be worthwhile.  Walking is one of the best forms of exercise we can participate in (see previous blog “Walk Before You Run”).  Park the car up a short distance from work and walk the rest. Make housework slightly more energetic by marching up the stairs, doing a couple of standing squats or knee bends between each ironing item.  Before you know it you will be significantly increasing your exercise levels and you don’t even need to put on lycra!

If you are someone who responds to encouragement from someone else, consider joining a class or if you have the means consider a personal trainer.  Having a diary appointment and making a commitment to someone else is a very good way of seeing something through.  It could, however simply be a case of writing something down and state your intentions to your nearest and dearest, or agreeing to a regular walk with a friend a couple of times per week; research shows that this alone improves peoples adherence to performing any task.

If you have a very specific barrier that may relate to your health and physical ability then seek professional support.  Life Fit Wellness is set up to provide this type of professional support through the team of Chartered Physiotherapists, Clinical Dietitian, Clinical Psychologist and Exercise Professionals.  Across the team we have vast experience in assisting people in engaging with exercise for a healthier lifestyle…it’s what we do!  There are lots of options to suit each individual ranging from 1-to-1 exercise and rehabilitation sessions to small groups classes such as Pilates, Yoga and other bespoke classes.  Our Team are always happy to discuss your exercise and health needs and assist you in your journey.

So whatever you feel the barrier is, get started, get going and keep going with Life Fit.

Find out more ways to assist in Breaking Barriers to Exercise in this presentation:

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