Overcoming 5 Obstacles to Exercise
What is your biggest obstacle to exercising regularly?
When I ask people this, I find most answers fit into 5 different categories: Time, Energy, Confidence, Motivation, & one that I call The Hidden Category.
In this article, I address each of these categories — and you may be surprised at what you find in that last one.
#1 - Time
You do have time, you just don’t know it.
Take a second to think about something. How much time should you spend exercising each day?
For real, stop reading and take a second to answer that question in your mind. Read it again. Don’t move on until you’ve settled on a definitive number.
Did you say 30 minutes? An hour? Somewhere in between?
You can do a lot in 30 minutes. And working out for an hour (or more) can be good. But how about 10 minutes?
Sure, the more time you put into your exercise the more you’ll get out of it (to a certain extent anyway — more isn’t always better). But 10 minutes a day is NOT a waste of time.
You can effectively start making your way to your goals in that time.
Ideally, someday down the road, you’ll add a little more time to that. But even if you always just do 10 minutes a day, you’ll still end up better off than you are now doing nothing.
If you can’t spare 10 minutes of your day, exercise probably isn’t your biggest problem.
(Our free ebook can get you started without even spending time going to a gym. It’s called “Home Workout For Beginners: Get in Shape in 20 Minutes a Day,” but in the book I explain how you can do it in 10 minutes if you prefer.)
#2 - Energy
Maybe you do have an extra 10 minutes to set aside, but you’re too tired to make it work.
Either you don’t have the energy to get up a little earlier in the morning, or you’re so exhausted later in the day, you can’t muster up the energy to get off the couch.
I have some good news and some bad news.
The Bad News
There’s no easy way to say this, but the answer is to rearrange your priorities.
I’m not being insensitive. I have two kids, I’ve worked two full time jobs, I’ve experienced harrowing levels of exhaustion.
Lack of energy can come from a number of places. The answer isn’t always simple. But here are 3 tips.
Before you focus on exercise, make sleep the priority. Are you getting enough? If not, start your discipline there.
Crazy schedule? If possible, find 3 days a week that aren’t as draining as the other 4. Do 20 minutes of exercise on those days.
If your diet consists mostly of processed (or junk) food, work on that first. You may find plenty of energy once you start eating better.
That brings us to the good news.
The Good News
Exercise gives you more energy.
The more you get in shape, the more energy you’ll have for the rest of your day. Not only will getting to your workouts be easier, you’ll have more energy in all other areas of your life, too.
On top of that, exercising can give you more energy today!
It takes serious willpower, but when I’m really tired, a quick workout can be as invigorating as a cold shower, a power nap, or injecting coffee straight into your bloodstream (don’t do that).
But yeah, it does help.
#3 - Confidence
This is an umbrella category for being intimidated by the gym either because of your looks, or not knowing what to do or where to start.
As they say in New York…
Forget about the other people at the gym.
If you can’t forget it, don’t go to the gym. You can get just as much done in the privacy of your own home.
Forget about the best exercise or when and how long to do it.
You might reach your goals faster doing X as opposed to Y or Z, but you’ll get there infinitely faster doing Y or Z (i.e. anything!) as opposed to doing nothing.
Forget about doing it yourself.
If you really want confidence, find a trainer (like us), or start with a physical therapist if you need to. At least find a good online workout program to follow (like ours).
I recommend everyone do this at some point. If you can’t do it now, you’re still better off doing something on your own. But at some point, when you can, do yourself a favor and hire a professional.
#4 - Motivation
You really want to work out, but you can’t seem to keep up the motivation long enough to get started, or to do it regularly.
I wrote a 2-part series on motivation, so if this is where you have trouble, you can read that here. But wait…
Be sure to come back to this article, because you might fit into this last category and not even realize it.
#5 - The Hidden Category
This might be the best category, which will shock you when you find out what it is.
Most people fall under this category and don’t even know it.
You might even vehemently deny it. (While others might embrace it.)
I want you to at least consider if this is the biggest obstacle preventing you from exercising on a regular basis.
You don’t want to do it.
Here’s why this might be the best category:
Once you realize it’s not a matter of time, energy, confidence or motivation — it’s a matter of priorities — that’s when you’re closer to a solution than ever before.
There are a lot of things in life you don’t want to do, but you make them a discipline and do them anyway because you know you should.
For you, exercise is going to be strictly a discipline, which means you need to treat it that way.
If you’re not good about brushing your teeth, you don’t say…
“I’m going to make teeth brushing my new hobby. I’ll do it 5 times a day, for 3 minutes each time. I’ll have the whitest teeth like a model, and people will travel miles to stick their noses in my mouth for a whiff of my ultra fresh breath.”
You get an electric toothbrush (which does most of the work for you) with a built-in timer (so you don’t wonder if you’ve brushed long enough), and you try to brush for the full length of that timer (but sometimes you don’t).
Whatever unrealistic expectations you had about exercise before, throw them out the window.
What you need is someone to do the work of making a plan for you. You need something uncomplicated and not too long. And if you can mostly stick to it, it needs to give you results.
Not to oversell it, but we offer a free workout plan just like that here.
Your first step is to acknowledge this is the category you’re in. Otherwise it stays hidden inside you as you try desperately to make exercise something you enjoy.
Enjoying exercise might still come later. For now, stop telling yourself you want to do it, and just find something you will do.