Maybe working out isn’t your favorite thing, but at least you’ve learned to appreciate the benefits enough to be active on a regular basis. It’s a part of your lifestyle. Still, day-to-day barriers like time and boredom can block your best intentions.
What’s the solution? Take a moment to write down three of your personal barriers to keeping up with your workout routine, then consider these two approaches:
- When time is tight, incorporate a few 2-10 minute bursts of activity throughout your day.
- If boredom is your barrier, shake up your mindset with a change.
Plan A: When All Goes Well
- Make an appointment with yourself. To make activity a daily priority, plan it into your schedule like any other appointment. Enter your weekly plan in the online planner, or jot it down on your menu or calendar.
- Make an appointment with others. It’s easier to ignore an alarm clock than a doorbell, especially if it’s your walking partner who’s waiting. Research shows that having an activity buddy can increase your chances of staying active.
Recruit support troops. Support really does make a difference. Re-evaluate your needs, and identify who can best support you in maintaining your activity. Record in your journal: What do I need help with? Who could support me?
Plan B: Break Past the Barriers
Barrier #1: Time
Here are some strategies to help you achieve your maintenance activity goal when faced with workout barriers.
- Build on your own natural activities. Already taking the stairs? Try adding other natural activities to your day such as walking the dog, washing the car or doing yard work.
Make it snappy for extra calories. Remember intervals, the short bursts of energy you’ve built into your activity routine to burn more calories? You can also build the same energy bursts into your natural activities. Try a few 2-10 minute bursts!
○ Walk at a brisk pace to work meetings.
○ Trot down to the neighborhood mailbox with your mail.
○ Run the dog home at the end of a walk.
○ After shopping, jog the grocery cart back to the stall.
- Increase your intensity to burn more calories. What about the days you don’t have extra time? Consider increasing the intensity at your next workout. You’ll burn more calories per minute. Just be sure to play it safe by staying within the “talk test” zone. If you can talk while you walk, run, bike, etc., you’re on target.
Barrier #2: Boredom:
Get up close and personal. If you personalize your goals, you’re more likely to be motivated to stay active for life. For example, if you want to get:
○ Great glutes: try stair-stepping, step aerobics or hiking.
○ A tight core: try rowing, Pilates or a yoga core class.
○ Focused: try rock climbing, tai chi or golf.
- Cross train. Throw off your muscles and your mindset with an exercise change. Take your walking program or other routine to the treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical trainer. Experiment with new resistance equipment, or switch your focus from upper-body to lower-body activities.
- Pick up a hobby. Look at the calories you can burn while you’re having fun!
American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 6th ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 2009.
- Find ways to love it. Your activity time is not just calorie-burning time, it’s a space in your day to reflect and reenergize. Transform your workout into a total body/mind/spirit experience. Feel your pace, extend your stride, breathe deeply, and take in the sights and sounds of nature. Or snap on some headphones, and listen to a motivational track or your favorite music. Experiment with these things and infuse new life into an old activity.
Barrier #3: Unplanned Events
It’s normal for situations to come up that may sidetrack your physical activity efforts. The best way to deal with these situations and avoid a lapse is to plan ahead. Take a few minutes to plan for the high-risk situations, such as illness, holidays, vacations, and busy times at work.
If you’ve identified other barriers, take a few moments to think of solutions to overcome those obstacles. Planning for what’s predictable (like a vacation) and what’s not (like boredom) and learning from lapses will help you stay active for life.