Active NAtion

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Breaking Barriers To Physical Activity

By the time we reach our 40’s and 50’s many of us will have increased our chances of falling ill later in life. If that isn’t worrying enough, more startling is the fact we won’t even realise it. It’s not too late to take positive steps and most of us know what our individual action plan looks like and understand the benefits each will have on our health. So what stops many of us from getting started?

Check out our Facebook Live video, where PT, David Baptiste, answers questions around breaking down the barriers to leading a more active lifestyle.

We all know people who exercise regularly, even excessively, and who seem to thrive on their efforts. They always make time to workout and make it look easy. However the reality for most of us is that we struggle to make time to do exercise. There always seem to be other things to do – more important or more fun – or we are just too tired.

To help you maintain a healthy lifestyle we have looked at the most common barriers to physical activity – and suggest strategies and tactics to get you back on track.

“I just don’t have time to exercise”

Build exercise into your daily routine. We’ve all heard recommendations to use the stairs rather than lifts or escalators, walking rather than the bus. You could also try organising your leisure time round physical activity – a bike ride, swimming pool or a ramble in the country. If your days are packed and the evening hours are just as hectic, get up half an hour early a couple of times a week to exercise. Once you’ve adjusted to early-morning workouts, add another day or two to the routine. Make a plan, schedule your work outs and then try and stick to the plan.

Struggling to find time in your busy week to be more active? Download and complete our activity planner and gaps in your week will suddenly become visible. Planning when you are going to be active will help you to succeed.

“After a busy day I don’t have enough energy to exercise”

Plan to exercise when your energy levels are at their highest. So if you are a morning person, work out in the morning. Don’t just collapse on your sofa at the end of the day – try some stretching exercises while you watch TV,

“Going to the gym is so boring”

Some of us really don’t like the gym environment – the repetition of particular exercises and the lack of fresh air isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If it isn’t for you find something that is for you. Is it individual exercise or a group activity? Inside or outside? Team sport? Lots of people find the group atmosphere of a class fun and motivating. Find something that makes you look forward to doing it.

“I hated PE at school, and still don’t like exercise”

Lots of us found the pressure of school games enough to put us off all team sports for life. But as an adult you need to think about exercise in a different way – it’s an important part of keeping fit and healthy. There are hundreds of different ways to be more active. Try lots of different options – running, gym, Zumba, swimming – until you find one you enjoy. Keep an open mind!

“I would rather go out with friends”

Invite friends and family members to join you at an exercise class or for a walk. They may well be very grateful and be keen to join you in getting active. Plan social activities involving exercise, as well as food and drink. You can also develop new friendships by joining a gym, a tennis club or a walking group.

“I’ve got family obligations”

If you struggle to get time to yourself because you have young children, try swapping babysitting time with a friend or family – you only need an hour! You can always exercise with the kids – go for a walk together and add some games such as tag, skipping or other running games. An aerobic dance or exercise tape can be a good way to work out together. If that is all too tricky to organise, then 30 minutes on an exercise bike in front of the TV when the kids have gone to bed may be the answer.

“I don’t want to end up injured”

Warming up and cooling down after exercise can reduce the risk of injury. You may want to start with a low impact activity like walking to limit the chance of an injury, then gradually introduce short intervals of running. Personal trainers are a good option to give you advice and help you design a fitness programme just for you. If you’ve had a previous injury or have a medical condition, you may want to consult your doctor before you start.

“I can’t afford to get involved in exercise classes and gyms”

If you really want to join a health club or gym, shop around. There are lots of good deals out there for off peak membership or pay as you go. There are also many ways to exercise for FREE. Pinterest and YouTube have some fun and inspiring workouts, or take a walk into your local park.

Try Active Nation’s free 7 day pass to see how exercise will benefit you.


“I don’t want to be seen trying out things or being laughed at”

It is natural to feel this way but leisure centres tend to be non-judgemental places where people are focused on their own activities. There are lots of people on hand to show you how to use equipment, and everyone will have been through the same learning steps!

“I don’t really know where to start”

Experienced personal trainers are on hand to offer support and advice and can tailor workouts to suit your personal requirements. Be brave and ask for help!

“I don’t have the right equipment or clothes”

It’s not a cat walk – you really only need a t-shirt, tracksuit bottoms or leggings, and a pair of trainers to start. Don’t invest in new clothes and equipment until you’re sure that it’s the right investment.

“I’m self-conscious about how I look”

Try not to worry too much. Remind yourself you’re improving your fitness and health, or focus on how much better you feel after a workout. If you’re really uncomfortable, start by trying an exercise video, a stationary bicycle or treadmill at home. As you become fitter and more comfortable exercising, and your self-confidence grows, you can try an exercise class or a run in the park. You’ll find that most people are focused on their own activities and don’t have time to look at you!

“I’m too old to start exercising”

Fitness is just as important as you get older. Look upon your retirement as an opportunity to become more active instead of less. You may find that you have more time for gardening, walking the dog and playing with your grandchildren. Learn a new skill you’ve always been interested in, such as yoga, dancing or swimming. Try and make regular physical activity a part of everyday – go for a walk every morning or every evening before dinner.

“I’ve missed a session and I’ll never get back on track”

It happens to everybody – you may have been ill or just too busy. It’s normal to miss the odd exercise session or two… or three! The thing is not to give up and a return to a sedentary lifestyle. Just resolve to get back to your routine at the earliest opportunity, and chances are it won’t be half as bad as you imagine!

Top tips for sticking to your exercise regime

1. Set realistic expectations

2. Choose activities you enjoy–you’ll be more likely to do it

3. Vary the routine to keep you fresh and enthusiastic

4. Remember that positive feeling that you get from exercise! It’s worth it!

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