Michael Keogh   Jan 20, 2023   -   min read

If you’re like most people, you know that being physically active is a good idea, you have at least some desire to be active, and you have already some strength and fitness goals.

But life can get busy and it can be difficult to find the time and motivation to exercise and be physically active. So let's discuss what are the common barriers to physical activity, and how to overcome these to improve your health and create a better life.

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Common barriers to physical activity

Exercise and movement is a key ingredient for your overall health and wellbeing. It lowers the risk of many chronic illnesses, helps you manage any conditions you do have, improves your mood and energy levels, and so much more.

But, there are many barriers that can prevent you from being physically active. It is important to identify these barriers and develop strategies to overcome them. Let’s take a closer look at the most common barriers:

Lack of time

One of the biggest barriers to physical activity is lack of time. With busy schedules, it can be difficult to find the time to exercise. Many people find that they don’t have the time to go to the gym or participate in structured exercise programs.

Lack of motivation

Another common barrier to physical activity is lack of motivation. It can be difficult to stay motivated to exercise when you don’t see results right away, and setting goals that you don't really want leads to less time and effort being applied to achieving them.

Lack of knowledge

Another barrier is lack of knowledge about physical activity. Many people don’t know what type of activity is best for them or how to properly perform the exercises to get the most out of their workouts. It can be helpful to consult with a fitness professional to create a personalized exercise plan.

Current physical and mental health

If you are dealing with lifestyle diseases, chronic pain, or poor mental health it can be difficult, even impossible, to exercise. It's important to consult with your care team to understand what type of physical activity is safe for you, and do what you can when you can.

Environmental barriers

Environmental barriers can be physical or social. Things like poor access to gyms and safe places to exercise can be a barrier, just as much as not having a supportive family or friendship group. Having a supportive environment is an important part of engaging in physical activity.

What can you do to overcome these barriers

There are many barriers to physical activity, and it can be difficult to overcome them. However, with a little determination and the strategies below, anyone including you can overcome these barriers. Remember to start small and set goals that are achievable.

Know your physical activity preferences

It can be helpful to know what type of physical activity you enjoy. Not all physical activity is the same and it is important to find activities that you enjoy. Some people may prefer group exercise classes while others may prefer solo activities such as running or cycling. Knowing your physical activity preferences can help you to stay motivated and reach your fitness goals. 

Think back to a time when you were enjoying physical activity, and reflect on what you prefer:

Structured or

Solo or

Indoors or

Day or

Make physical activity part of your life

As one of the biggest barriers is lack of time, making physical activity part of your life will help you to see it as a priority. Try to set a regular time each day for physical activity and make sure to stick to it, and eventually make physical activity a habit and part of your daily routine.

Do less to do more

Another strategy is to break up your physical activity into smaller chunks of time. Instead of trying to find an hour each day for physical activity, you can break it up into two 30-minute sessions or three 20-minute sessions. Doing something short is far better than doing nothing at all.

Tracking Your Progress

Tracking your progress can be a great way to stay motivated and help you reach your fitness goals. Keeping a physical activity log can help you to track your progress and help you make adjustments to your exercise routine. Taking before and after pictures to show improvement offers the same.

Establishing long-term goals

It's important to set long-term goals to stay motivated and focused on the bigger picture. These goals should be achievable and realistic, and have clear milestones that you can work toward in the short and mid-term. This also offers an important sense of accomplishment which will keep you in action.


Using technology to overcome barriers

Technology has played a significant role in helping people overcome barriers to physical activity for years now. From wearable technology that tracks and logs your activity, to apps that help you track your fitness goals, to websites (like this one) that educate and support people reach their strength and fitness goals.

So whether you're looking to improve your fitness, overcome barriers to physical activity, or both, technology can help you reach your goals. So don't wait - embrace technology and start challenging barriers today!

It's time to embrace physical activity

Now you know a number of ways to overcome barriers, try them out and see what suits you and your life. At the end of the day, you just need a few ways that keep you on track and in action to create the results that you want.

Once you find what works for you, it'll be easy to make physical activity a part of your life, finally reach your strength and fitness goals, and enjoy the life you've always wanted!

Want some help using this information to improve your health and life?

About the Author

Michael Keogh is an Exercise Physiologist and Health Coach with 8 years experience in clinical and corporate settings. He is also the co-author of upcoming book “Thrive: How to 10X your Health, Wealth and Happiness”.

He uses exercise as medicine to treat chronic disease and ensure healthy ageing, whilst guiding his clients towards sustainable health behaviours that result in improved performance and greater satisfaction in work and life.

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