How To Overcome Barriers To Physical Activity?

“I’d love to be physically fit, but I don’t have time.”

This is the most common reason when people are asked why they do not exercise. And while most of us understand the benefits of regular exercise and enjoy physical activity, some struggle to see how and when they can fit more into their busy lives. And in addition to time constraints, exercise has many other barriers that can get in the way of our good intentions.

However, the good news is that most of the barriers to exercise can be overcome once we have identified them. Once we identify each one, we can come up with a strategic plan to eliminate them. Here we take a look at some of the barriers to physical activity and how to handle them.

Finding the time and interest to create physical activity in your daily life can sometimes be difficult. We can all come up with a lot of excuses to avoid exercise.

Moreover, eating the right food, cutting back on highly processed or sugary foods and drinks, visiting your doctor once a year, opting for regular exercises, etc., are also some of the most important ways you should go for.

Table of Contents

Common excuses for being sedentary

There are many common barriers to doing physical activity.

I don’t have enough time

  • If you feel like you don’t have time for physical activity in your daily life, try this:
  • Keep a diary of your daily activities for a week. Use the diary to evaluate how much spare time you have – you may have more time than you thought.
  • Try splitting your exercise sessions into two 15-minute blocks or three 10-minute blocks, if it’s hard to find an extra 30-minute block per day to exercise. You will still get fitness benefits.
  • Involve your family. For example, instead of playing board games or watching television together, go out. You can play backyard cricket, go to your local swimming pool or go for a walk in the park.
  • Take a 15-minute brisk walk at noon.
  • Try to include physical activity in your daily life. For example, get off a bus or train one stop early and walk the rest of the way. Take the CD instead of the elevator.

Exercise is boring

  • Sometimes lack of interest rather than lack of time is the problem. If you find exercise boring, try this:
  • Exercise with a friend, join a local walking group, or take part in a team game. Physical activity does not have to be a solitary business.
  • Think back to the physical activities you enjoyed as a child. Did you enjoy roller skating, riding your bike, or jumping on a trampoline? Did you play a team game? Re-visit these activities and you will find them enjoyable today.
  • Change the way you think about physical activity. Don’t think that exercise should be painful or dull to be ‘good’ for you.
  • Physical activity is about getting more movements in your day. Activities should also be fun. Think of occupations such as dancing, gardening, or yoga planning to participate in a range of physical activities.
  • Consider using exercise equipment at home so you can work out while watching your favorite television program.

I don’t know how to stay active

A lot of people are ready to help you when you’re ready to move on. Suggestions include:

  • See your doctor for instructions and support when starting a physical activity program.
  • Contact your local community centre. Most centres offer a range of physical activity classes at a modest price.
  • Visit your local gym or sports centre. Most gyms, sporting clubs, and dance clubs offer beginner-free first lessons. Take advantage of these free lessons to help you find an activity that sounds exciting to you.
  • Choose something that interests you. What sport do you enjoy watching on television? For example, if you never miss the Australian Open, you might be interested in tennis.
  • Ask any of your physically active friends if you can come along during their next exercise session.
  • Learn about different opportunities for physical activity in your area.

I'm very tired

  • Life can be boring, but, surprisingly, the more active you are, the more energy you will have for everything else. Suggestions include:
  • Try to stay active most days of the week and you will soon feel more energetic. The fitter you are, the more energy you have.
  • Rearrange your schedule so you can stay active in the morning rather than at night.
  • Exercise during your lunch break or create an activity to get to work by cycling or walking some part or all the way.
  • Improve your diet. Healthy eating can boost your energy levels.
  • Try to get more sleep.


It's too hot, it's too cold, and it’s raining

  • Regardless of the weather, you can always do something. Suggestions include:
  • Have a variety of indoor and outdoor activities to choose from so that the weather does not interfere with your exercise plans.
  • Choose indoor activities, such as working out on exercise videos or static cycling, on days when you don’t want to exercise outside.
  • Work out in the gym or swim in your local pool.
  • Take a quick walk from your local air-conditioned shopping centre.
  • Choose weather-specific activities such as winter skiing or snow-play or summer swimming.

I don't feel like it

  • Changing habits is not easy, but once you start to feel better you will see the benefits of the changes you have made. If you don’t feel like being active, try this:
  • Identify your barriers to physical activity.
  • Browse through the Better Health Channel and read about the benefits of physical activity. For example, regular exercise eases depression and anxiety, helps with weight loss, improves sleep, and helps control back pain. Find personal reasons to encourage you to be more proactive.
  • If you feel uncomfortable exercising in front of others, choose solitary occupations such as working out on exercise videos.
  • Plan for the duration of physical activity and make appointments with you in your diary.
  • Find yourself an exercise friend. If you have someone else dependent on you are more likely to commit to regular physical activity.

Frequently Asked Question

What are the barriers to your physical activities?

Identifying barriers to physical activity

It a 21-item measure assessing the following barriers to physical activity: 1) lack of time, 2) social influence, 3) lack of energy, 4) lack of willpower, 5) fear of injury, 6) lack of skill, and 7) lack of resources (eg, recreational facilities, exercise equipment).

What are the example of environmental barriers?

Barriers in their surroundings – like poor lighting, too much noise, crowds. It also includes things in nature like cold temperatures, too much rain, steep hills, etc. The attitudes of people in their own homes or families.

What are emotional barriers?

An emotional barrier is a mental block that influences how you perceive others’ actions and prevents you from clearly communicating your feelings. Emotional barriers can trigger an emotional response that’s inappropriate or unproductive.

How to overcome barriers to physical activity?

Invite friends and family members to exercise with you. Plan social activities involving exercise. Develop new friendships with physically active people. 


By trying out a few physical activities, you can find healthy habits that work for you. Try to incorporate a mix of physical, mental, and emotional well-being practices into your workday so you can better focus on every area of your life.

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