Naturally, when starting something new, a lot of us often consider any blockers or issues which we think are going to get in our way. In some cases, these thoughts become overwhelming and prevent us completing the very thing we set out to do. The same can be said for those looking into exercise for the first time or changing our workout routines.

But how do we break down these barriers? Let’s start with discussing what is defined as a barrier.

A barrier is something that prevents us from doing something. When it comes to exercise these barriers can be categorised as perceived or actual. Perceived barriers as those that we believe/ think whereas actual barriers are factual.

Most barriers can be placed into a number of categories. The Allied Dunbar National Fitness Survey (1992), the most comprehensive study in England on the patterns of physical activity and levels of fitness, reported the following factors given as barriers by people aged 16 to 69: physical, emotional, motivational, time and availability.


“I am too fat”

“My health is not good enough”

“I’m too old”


“I’m not the sporty type”

“I’m too shy or embarrassed”


“I need to rest and relax in my spare time”

“I haven’t got the energy”


“I haven’t got the time”

“I have young children to look after”


“I can’t afford it or, there are no suitable facilities nearby”

“I haven’t got the right clothes or equipment”

Whilst the barrier examples listed above have a physical or practical element to them, they also have a psychological element based upon perception and beliefs about exercise. The main point to note is that all of these barriers can be overcome.

Here are some hints and tips to overcoming your exercise barriers:


  • Exercise is beneficial to all of us – no matter our age, sex, or size!
  • The benefits of regular exercise and a complementary diet can help us live longer, keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check, reduce our risk of major diseases, relieve stress, and simply keep us looking good.


  • Choose an activity you enjoy
  • Start at a comfortable level then gradually increase the length of time, number of days per week and level of effort
  • Be kind to yourself – we all have to start somewhere!


  • Set your own activity goal and make it specific to your needs. Set both short and long term goals. Make your goal measurable, but be realistic and build in some flexibility (SMART goals)
  • Track your progress no matter how small the achievements feel
  • Try working out with a friend or Personal Trainer – someone who can keep you accountable


  • Schedule activities into your day
  • Build activities into everyday tasks no matter where you are (e.g. Cycle to work or walk the dog)
  • Find an exercise you enjoy. When an activity is enjoyable, we are more likely to find the time to do it


  • Don’t forget that not all exercise requires any money on equipment, memberships, or clothing

If you’re not sure how to overcome your barriers to exercise, whether they be perceived or actual – get in touch to find out how we can help you overcome them and create a programme that works for you!

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