Overcoming Exercise Barriers

Everyone knows that exercise is good for you, but most people don’t exercise. How do you move from knowing to doing? Take a good, honest look at why you are not exercising.   


Making time for physical activity during your week is key to creating a workout routine. Start by monitoring all your activities for a week and see where you can fit in three 30 min slots you could use for physical activity.1 If there aren’t enough slots, try to find ways to add physical activity into your daily routine.2 Some examples of this include walking to work, climbing stairs or exercising while you watch tv.1,2 Also, while you are on the phone, try to stand, stretch or move as possible.2 This also works for watching movies. Another option is to add time into your schedule by waking up earlier in the mornings.3 

Physical Pain or Fear of Injury  

Pain or injury while exercising can be a holdup to resuming a workout routine or maintaining a current routine. Learning how to warm up and cool down will help prevent injury.2 When choosing a workout, consider your age, fitness level, and skill level. Don’t start with heavy weightlifting if you haven’t tried free weights. Start with activities you can do safely and increase the amount you do as your skills grow.2 Workout classes could be fun to try out new activities and find your favorites. In addition to weights and cardio exercises, balance, and flexibility activities are useful as well.  

As someone with diabetes, it is important to make sure your feet are in good shape. Check your feet daily for cuts, bruises, or sores. Make sure to see your foot doctor at least once a year. If your feet are numb or tingly,  talk to your doctor before starting any physical activity. Click here for some chair exercises that are good for upper body strength.  


Whether it’s time out of the day or motivation to go to the gym, adding exercise to your routine can be inconvenient at the beginning. Selecting activities you can do at home is a good way to start.1 Some examples of this include walking, jogging, or even investing in some inexpensive free weights for your home. There might also be resources within your community that you are able to take advantage of. Look for parks, recreation groups, and walking clubs to make friends and participate in activities close to home.1  


Lack of Motivation & Energy  


To stay committed to an exercise routine, planning is critical. Without a plan, it is easy to take the path of least resistance, which is not participating in exercise. Scheduling physical activity for specific times or days in your calendar.1 That time is up to you, based on when you feel most energetic and what works with your schedule.3 Working with your nature and energy levels will lower the resistance to exercise. Additionally, set realistic expectations for incorporating exercise. Start with 1-2 times a week, and gradually increase as possible.  

A great way to stay committed to your exercise routine is to find support from friends and family. When beginning to exercise, explain to friends and family why you are doing this and ask for their support.1 Inviting your friends to participate in physical activity with you is a good way to socialize and improve your physical health at the same time! 1If your friends aren’t up for it, finding additional friends to exercise with is possible.1 Join a local YMCA, gym, or walking club to find people with similar goals to offer support.2  


Varying your fitness routine is helpful to avoid boredom. Finding various activities that you enjoy, such as Zumba, weightlifting, or walking with friends.3 Changing between multiple activities that you enjoy will help avoid “falling into a rut” when it comes to exercise.  


Trying to be creative with increasing physical activity is key to overcoming barriers. Using these skills above will hopefully help you be successful in achieving your exercise goals.   




1. Breaking Down Barriers to Fitness. AHA. 

2. Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity . CDC. 

3. Micah Dorfner. How to Overcome the Top 5 Fitness Barriers . Mayo Clinic.