6. I'm not athletic
Natural athletic ability isn't necessary in physical activity. Even if you've been inactive for some time, it's not too late to get more active.
- Keep it simple. Try something basic, such as a daily walk. Start slowly and give your body a chance to get used to the increased activity.
- Find company. Pick an activity you like, such as dancing or gardening, and invite friends to join in. You'll 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.
7. I've tried to exercise in the past and failed
Don't give up. Re-evaluate what went wrong, and learn from your mistakes. Although you can't see when you reduce your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, you can make a positive impact in your health through regular exercise.
- 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 manageable goals you can 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.
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. Do pushups or squats using your body weight.
- 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.
9. I'm afraid I'll hurt myself if I exercise
If you're nervous about injuring yourself, start off on the right foot and take it slowly.
- Take it slowly. Start with a simple walking program. Warm up before you exercise, and cool down when you're finished. 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 the beginning.
- 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 or you have a medical condition, you may want to consult your doctor or an exercise therapist for help designing a fitness program appropriate for you.
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 moving 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. And try walking around your child's school during lessons, practices or rehearsals.
If necessary, have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved ones. If they don't share your fitness ambitions, ask them to at least respect your desire to get fit.
Aug. 31, 2016
See more In-depth
- Overcoming barriers to physical activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adding-pa/barriers.html. Accessed July 29, 2016.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/. Accessed Aug. 9, 2016.
- Tips to help you get active. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/tips-help-get-active/pages/tips-help-you-get-active.aspx. Accessed July 29, 2016.
- Getting started — Tips for long-term exercise success. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/GettingActive/Getting-Started---Tips-for-Long-term-Exercise-Success_UCM_307979_Article.jsp#.V6trvthTHcs. Accessed Aug. 9, 2016.
- Get moving: Easy tips to get active! American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/GettingActive/Get-Moving-Easy-Tips-to-Get-Active_UCM_307978_Article.jsp#.V6tr-9hTHcs. Accessed Aug. 9, 2016.
- Molanorouzi K, et al. Motives for adult participation in physical activity: Type of activity, age, and gender. BMC Public Health. 2015;15:66.
- Kulavic K, et al. A comparison of motivational factors and barriers to physical activity among traditional versus nontraditional college students. Journal of American College Health. 2013;61:60.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 11, 2016.