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Stretching and flexibility (3)
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Aerobic exercise (13)
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Strength training (9)
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Sports nutrition (3)
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Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challenges
Barrier No. 6: I'm not athletic
Natural athletic ability isn't a prerequisite to physical activity.
- Keep it simple. Try something basic, such as a daily walk.
- Start a team. Join up with friends who are in the same boat. And have fun while helping each other work out.
- Forget the competition. Don't worry about becoming a superstar athlete or joining the hard-bodied athletes at the fitness club. Simply focus on the positive changes you're making to your body and mind.
Barrier No. 7: I've tried to exercise in the past and failed
Don't throw in the towel. You can't see it when you lower your cholesterol or reduce your risk of diabetes, but that doesn't mean you aren't doing yourself a great favor. Re-evaluate what went wrong, and learn from your mistakes.
- Pace yourself. Start small and build up to more-intense workouts later, when your body is ready.
- Set realistic goals. Don't promise yourself you're going to work out for an hour every day, and then get down on yourself when you fall short. Stick with goals you can more easily achieve, such as exercising 20 minutes a day, three days a week for the first month.
- Remember why you're exercising. Use your personal fitness goals as motivation — and reward yourself as you meet your goals.
Barrier No. 8: I can't afford health club fees
You don't need a membership at an elite gym to get a great workout. Consider common-sense alternatives.
- Do strengthening exercises at home. Use inexpensive resistance bands — lengths of elastic tubing that come in varying strengths — in place of weights. Lift plastic milk jugs partially filled with water or sand. Do push-ups or squats using your body weight.
- Watch an exercise video. Try videos on dance aerobics, cardio-kickboxing, yoga or tai chi. For variety, trade exercise videos with a friend.
- Start a walking group. Round up friends, neighbors or co-workers for regular group walks. Plan routes through your neighborhood or near your workplace, along local parks and trails, or in a nearby shopping mall.
- Take the stairs. Skip the elevator when you can. Better yet, make climbing stairs a workout in itself.
- Try your community center. Exercise classes offered through a local recreation department or community education group might fit your budget better than an annual gym membership.
Barrier No. 9: I'm afraid I'll hurt myself if I exercise
If you're nervous about injuring yourself, start off on the right foot.
- Take it slow. Start with a simple walking program. As you become more confident in your abilities, add new activities to your routine.
- Try an exercise class for beginners. You'll learn the basics by starting from scratch.
- Get professional help. Get a fitness tutorial from a certified expert, who can monitor your movements and point you in the right direction. If you've had a previous injury, you may want to first see a sports medicine physician, who can evaluate you and recommend specific treatment, such as physical therapy.
Barrier No. 10: My family doesn't support my efforts
Remind those close to you of the benefits of regular exercise — and then bring them along for the ride.
- Get your kicks with your kids. Sign up for a parent-child exercise class. Pack a picnic lunch and take your family to the park for a game of tag or kickball. Splash with the kids in the pool instead of watching from your chair.
- Propose a new adventure. Instead of suggesting a workout at the gym, invite a friend to go to an indoor climbing wall or rent a tandem bicycle for the weekend.
- Do double duty. Volunteer to drive your teens to the mall, and then walk laps inside while you wait for the shoppers. Try the same trick at your child's school during lessons, practices or rehearsals.
If necessary, have a heart-to-heart with your loved ones. If they don't share your fitness ambitions, ask them to at least respect your desire to get fit.Previous page
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- Overcoming barriers to physical activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/getactive/barriers.html. Accessed Dec. 8, 2010.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/PAGUIDELINES/guidelines/default.aspx Accessed Dec. 8, 2010.
- Ebben W, et al. Motivations and barriers to exercise among college students. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online. 2008;11:1.
- Wolin KY, et al. Low discretionary time as a barrier to physical activity and intervention uptake. American Journal of Health Behavior. 2008;32:563.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 9, 2010.
- Tips for exercise success. American Heart Association. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=801. Accessed Dec. 6, 2010.
- Physical activity in your daily life. American Heart Association. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=2155. Accessed Dec. 6, 2010.