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Karen's Blogs

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Barriers to Exercise

Not a week goes by without someone I know commenting on disliking exercise. Although it’s likely that certain folks are born with more of an inclination move their bodies, that’s not the whole story. What’s important is to understand your story, you know, the one you tell yourself (and others) about why you don’t exercise.

You probably have the best of intentions and recognize that exercise contributes to health and longevity, so knowledge isn’t the problem. How could any adult in this society not have gotten the 30-minutes-a-day message by now? Well, then, if you recognize the benefits of exercise and have the intention of doing it, what stops you? Although there are general answers, exact barriers are unique to each of you.

Make a list of what stops you from exercising or regularly, intentionally keeping your body moving by walking, dancing, gardening, going to the gym, gyrating to a DVD or playing sports. Maybe you don’t like to sweat, find it hard to move because of your weight, are embarrassed because of your size, were made to do things as a child and are still rebelling against “shoulds”, fear you’ll look foolish because you’re not an expert, hate to exercise alone, believe you lack the time or space, don’t have the money, are too tired, busy, or depressed, don’t enjoy it, or don’t feel deserving of good health.

Now go through your list and problem-solve around each barrier. Does exercise need to cost money? Why must you enjoy something to do it (Do you actually relish brushing your teeth or do you do it because it’s good for you?)? Could you not find 20-30 minutes most days to get moving doing something? Does rebelling about what you were made to do in childhood serve you now? Will exercise really make you more tired or will it generate energy? What are you doing about feeling depressed? Why choose to be embarrassed about your weight rather than neutral about it? Do you have to be an expert to engage in an activity? Is there a form of exercise you could do at your weight that wouldn’t be physically uncomfortable? Do you spend money on items that don’t contribute to your well being—celebrity magazines, make up you want but don’t need and, particularly, goodies for other people?—which could go toward a gym membership or a low-cost, at-home aerobic machine or set of weights?

Other than bona fide physical limitation, barriers to exercise exist in your mind. Get past them to create a different mindset about regular activity. Don’t use avoiding exercise to make yourself feel badly. Instead move your body and feel proud of it.

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