Addressing common barriers to regular exercise


Research has shown that regular exercise improves factors linked to improved heart health, resulting in lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels, and better blood sugar regulation. While most people are aware of these benefits, many remain inactive because of the many barriers to regular exercise. Unless fitness and exercise are turned into a lifestyle, it will be hard to sustain the drive and motivation required to incorporate it into your daily routine.

Find out more about the benefits of exercise here. It’s time to set aside the excuses and get to work! We have highlighted the most common barriers to regular exercise, and tips to overcome them to lead a happy, healthy life.

#1 – Lack of time

  • Examine your daily activities and routine. Identify two or three available time slots of about 15- or 20-minute blocks for physical activity.
  • Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Choose activities like walking, jogging, or stair climbing that you can do based on the time that you have available (e.g., 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes).

#2 – Lack of motivation

  • Pick an activity (or a few activities) that interests you and suits your lifestyle.
  • Try and recall the physical activities you enjoyed as a child. Did you love to cycle, play badminton, run, or swim? Did you play a team sport like cricket or football? Try these activities again, you may find them enjoyable and easy to adopt.
  • Don’t think that exercise has to be painful or unpleasant for it to be effective. Physical activity simply boils down to getting more movement into your day.
  • Tools like a pedometer can help motivate you and track your progress. Your daily step count can help you set targeted goals.

#3 – Lack of company

  • Let people know that you want to make a lifestyle change that incorporates regular exercise
  • Invite a friend, colleague or family member to join you for an exercise session
  • Join a class like yoga, or take up a team sport that appeals to you.
  • Take your dog for morning or evening walks.

#4 – Lack of energy

  • Map out the times of the day when you have the most energy.
  • For example, have a walk after lunch or dinner. Or if you have energy in the morning, start your day with a 30-minute workout.
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods that can boost your energy levels.

#5 – Lack of resources

  • Choose activities that do not need very specialized facilities, like walking, skipping, yoga, or simply climbing stairs.
  • Identify convenient options for exercise in your neighbourhood. If you live in a locality with parks or gardens, plan your exercise around those spaces. A change of scene can work wonders!

#6 – Fear of injury

  • Prioritize stretching and cool down when working out in order to minimize the risk of injury
  • Discuss your workout routine with your doctor or trainer, and pick activities based on your fitness level, age, and health status

#7 – Bad weather

  • Options always help! Pick a variety of activities you can do where the weather has little or no impact on your plans
  • Indoor activities like exercise videos or jogging in place are easy options
  • You can take a brisk walk through your building basement or local air-conditioned shopping centre.

Given the higher risk of overweight/obesity and heart disease in the South Asians, it is essential for you to be proactive about maintaining or reducing your weight. Don’t take it easy with your and your family’s heart health.

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