I don’t know where I *stole* this from, but it is fantastic in its comprehensive examination of what may/may not be personal barriers to getting more exercise and leading a more active lifestyle.

One of the things that has most recently become evident to me is that I LIKE spinning and I LIKE lifting, so they don’t feel so much like work to me anymore. They are more like hobbies now than “exercise.” I want to feel the same about karate, but I’m not there yet and of course I am wanting to fall in love with running but my schedule has been inconsistent at best with the snow/sleet outside.

I am filling my weekends with more active stuff like spinning, piano, karate, walking the dog, etc and trying to spend less time lying around eating and reading. Well, the reading part can stay! And despite the slow battle against the “lbs” I won’t quit because I love how I FEEL even if I’m still struggling with how I look. I’m also surrounding myself (easy to do in New England) with fit and active people who eat healthy and are full of energy. Josh plays 3 sports; Dawna loves to swim; Amy and Corey teach spin class, 1/2 my office does weight watchers or something therelike. So I have also begun changing who I associate with as well.

From the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention…

Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” —Anonymous

Given the health benefits of regular physical activity, we might have to ask why two out of three (60%) Americans are not active at recommended levels. There are barriers that keep Americans from being, or becoming, regularly physically active. Understanding common barriers to physical activity and creating strategies to overcome them may help you make physical activity part of your daily life.


Environmental Barriers

Social environments such as school, work, family and friends can significantly influence an individual’s level of physical activity. However, characteristics of our communities such as the accessibility and location of parks, trails, sidewalks, and recreational centers as well as street design, density of housing, and availability of public transit may play and even greater role in promoting or discouraging an individual or family’s level of physical activity. There are also significant environmental barriers from water and air pollution to crime and dangerous automobile traffic.

To address this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has initiated the ACES: Active Community Environments Initiative project to promote and support the awareness and development of places where people of all ages and abilities can easily enjoy walking, bicycling, and other forms of recreation.

There are many opportunities within our environment that support physical activities from parks, trails, and sidewalks to recreation and fitness centers. Even malls provide opportunities for fitness walking. Understanding environmental opportunities and barriers that we face in our pursuit for a healthy lifestyle may provide some of the knowledge necessary to promote healthy living. This information may also provide ideas for advocacy and civic participation.

For more information on the Active Community Environments Initiative and how you can support a positive environment for physical activity in your community, please visit ACES: Active Community Environments Initiative.

Personal Barriers

Aside from the many technological advances and conveniences that have made our lives easier and less active, many personal variables, including physiological, behavioral, and psychological factors, may affect our plans to become more physically active. In fact, the 10 most common reasons adults cite for not adopting more physically active lifestyles are (Sallis and Hovell, 1990; Sallis et al., 1992)

  • Do not have enough time to exercise
  • Find it inconvenient to exercise
  • Lack self-motivation
  • Do not find exercise enjoyable
  • Find exercise boring
  • Lack confidence in their ability to be physically active (low self-efficacy)
  • Fear being injured or have been injured recently
  • Lack self-management skills, such as the ability to set personal goals, monitor progress, or reward progress toward such goals
  • Lack encouragement, support, or companionship from family and friends, and
  • Do not have parks, sidewalks, bicycle trails, or safe and pleasant walking paths convenient to their homes or offices.

How can I figure out which barriers affect me most?

The Barriers to Being Active QuizPDF file (PDF–101K) can help you identify the types of physical activity barriers that are undermining your ability to make regular physical activity and integral part of your life. The quiz calculates a score in each of seven barrier categories. Once you’ve taken the quiz and identified which barriers affect you the most, look at the table below for suggestions on how to overcome them.

Suggestions for Overcoming Physical Activity Barriers
Lack of time Identify available time slots. Monitor your daily activities for one week. Identify at least three 30-minute time slots you could use for physical activity.
Add physical activity to your daily routine. For example, walk or ride your bike to work or shopping, organize school activities around physical activity, walk the dog, exercise while you watch TV, park farther away from your destination, etc.
Make time for physical activity. For example, walk, jog, or swim during your lunch hour, or take fitness breaks instead of coffee breaks.
Select activities requiring minimal time, such as walking, jogging, or stairclimbing.
Social influence Explain your interest in physical activity to friends and family. Ask them to support your efforts.
Invite friends and family members to exercise with you. Plan social activities involving exercise.
Develop new friendships with physically active people. Join a group, such as the YMCA or a hiking club.
Lack of energy Schedule physical activity for times in the day or week when you feel energetic.
Convince yourself that if you give it a chance, physical activity will increase your energy level; then, try it.
Lack of motivation Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule and write it on your calendar.
Invite a friend to exercise with you on a regular basis and write it on both your calendars.
Join an exercise group or class.
Fear of injury Learn how to warm up and cool down to prevent injury.
Learn how to exercise appropriately considering your age, fitness level, skill level, and health status.
Choose activities involving minimum risk.
Lack of skill Select activities requiring no new skills, such as walking, climbing stairs, or jogging.
Exercise with friends who are at the same skill level as you are.
Find a friend who is willing to teach you some new skills.
Take a class to develop new skills.
Lack of resources Select activities that require minimal facilities or equipment, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope, or calisthenics.
Identify inexpensive, convenient resources available in your community (community education programs, park and recreation programs, worksite programs, etc.).
Weather conditions Develop a set of regular activities that are always available regardless of weather (indoor cycling, aerobic dance, indoor swimming, calisthenics, stair climbing, rope skipping, mall walking, dancing, gymnasium games, etc.)
Look on outdoor activities that depend on weather conditions (cross-country skiing, outdoor swimming, outdoor tennis, etc.) as “bonuses”-extra activities possible when weather and circumstances permit.
Travel Put a jump rope in your suitcase and jump rope.
Walk the halls and climb the stairs in hotels.
Stay in places with swimming pools or exercise facilities.
Join the YMCA or YWCA (ask about reciprocal membership agreement).
Visit the local shopping mall and walk for half an hour or more.
Bring a small tape recorder and your favorite aerobic exercise tape.
Family obligations Trade babysitting time with a friend, neighbor, or family member who also has small children.
Exercise with the kids-go for a walk together, play tag or other running games, get an aerobic dance or exercise tape for kids (there are several on the market) and exercise together. You can spend time together and still get your exercise.
Hire a babysitter and look at the cost as a worthwhile investment in your physical and mental health.
Jump rope, do calisthenics, ride a stationary bicycle, or use other home gymnasium equipment while the kids are busy playing or sleeping.
Try to exercise when the kids are not around (e.g., during school hours or their nap time).
Encourage exercise facilities to provide child care services.
Retirement years Look upon your retirement as an opportunity to become more active instead of less. Spend more time gardening, walking the dog, and playing with your grandchildren. Children with short legs and grandparents with slower gaits are often great walking partners.
Learn a new skill you’ve always been interested in, such as ballroom dancing, square dancing, or swimming.
Now that you have the time, make regular physical activity a part of every day. Go for a walk every morning or every evening before dinner. Treat yourself to an exercycle and ride every day while reading a favorite book or magazine.

Content in the “Personal Barriers” section was taken from Promoting Physical Activity: A Guide for Community Action (USDHHS, 1999).

About these ads