Barriers to exercise

Over the years I have worked with thousands of people.

In this time I’ve heard many of the things that stop people from achieving their goals.

The main barriers and themes that come up the most are:

No time, health issues, injuries, finances, poor weather, and motivation.

These barriers are real, and for some, may seem impossible to get around.

Lets break these down and here are a few suggestions to overcome any barrier – no matter how tall.


Time constraints come in the form of the person with a demanding job, or someone who works long hours. Its the mums/dads/grandparents who devote their day to looking after their family (and often their extended family). Its the person whom is too busy cooking/cleaning, or volunteering to fit in a bit of exercise.

Solution – Make it a priority (the dishes can wait, your health may not), split up activity to a short walk in your lunch break and the rest later on, complete activity incidentally – and spend the day in the garden. Take the kids/grand-kids to the local park and kick a ball around. Use a diary or calendar and schedule in your activity time (ie 10am is walk time). Or use home exercise equipment and cycle/walk whilst your watching your favourite shows.

Health & Injury:

Health and injury problems can feel like the impossible. You could have a bad knee that doesn’t like walking. A shoulder that wont let you reach up to brush your hair (let alone exercise). A recent heart attack, or you have had a stoke, are currently battling cancer , or have had an amputation.

Activity is good for everyone, and just about every condition can be benefited by exercise.

Solution – Get help. Talk to your doctor, or medical team. Get referred to a specialist, physio, podiatrist or exercise physiologist. Look at info on creditable sites on the web. Use pain relief pre and post exercise if needed. Manage any discomfort with ice/heat packs. Or simply find what works – aqua or bike for instance may be more comfortable for that bad knee. Cycle with your arms on an arm bike as opposed to traditional cycling. Your body doesn’t actually care how we are active – just as long as we are moving.

Low finances:

Gyms and equipment can be very costly. The fitness industry is a multi billion dollar business, which isn’t there just out of the goodness of their heart. Although it can be helpful to attend a gym, fortunately you don’t need to.

Solution – Go for a walk. Check out local community groups. Contact your local council for possible community exercise classes. Use free outdoor exercise equipment (that are popping up in local parks and community areas). Or simply dance around or exercise in your lounge room watching a youtube video.


You could be like me and living in a country with very hot summers, or somewhere else that is covered in rain and snow.

Solution – Complete indoor activity, walk around a shopping mall, go down to the beach, exercise in the morning or evening when the weather is better. Wear appropriate clothing or take an umbrella (a colleague of mine once told me that there is no such thing as poor weather – only inappropriate clothing – Mike if you read this – your quote has stuck with me for years!)


Motivation is the big daddy of barriers. In reality all the previous barriers are all actually motivation.

Do you think Paralympic athletes are stopped by their physical limitations? Many people whom work all day or have kids, still find spots in their day to be active. Does poor weather stop the “icebergs” who go out and swim in freezing cold winters?

What do all these types of people have? Motivation.

How do they get it?

The love what they do. They complete their exercise for fun. They set goals and work towards them. They set aside the time and structure their day. They hold their health and exercise as high priorities. They use peer/family support to be active with. They attend group activity, or gyms (as it helps to push them along). And often they get help with their motivation.

So, what stops you? Hopefully we have given you some ideas to overcome your own barriers.

Have fun in your health journey, and remember to stay true to yourself.
Authentic Health and Fitness.

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