Why Is It So Difficult To Start Exercising?

For many of us, just the thought of starting a new exercise routine can be overwhelming.

After all, it's not as if we don't know that regular exercise is essential for our health and well-being. So, why do so many of us have such a hard time getting off the couch and into a gym or on the treadmill? a man struggling to exercise

The truth is, starting an exercise program isn't easy - even when you know the benefits.

Several psychological barriers stand in the way of committing to regular physical activity: fear of failure, low self-esteem, lack of motivation, feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of exercising consistently… the list goes on.

But fear not!

These issues can be overcome through knowledge and practice.

This article will discuss why starting exercise can be so tricky and provide practical tips on overcoming these barriers.

We'll also look at ways to make exercising more manageable by setting achievable goals, finding a workout buddy, and creating rewards for yourself as you progress.

Whether new to fitness or need extra inspiration, this guide will help get you off the couch and onto your feet!

Psychological Barriers

It's no secret that psychological barriers can be some of the biggest hurdles to starting a regular exercise program.

Fear of failure

We worry we won't reach our goals or, worse, fail entirely… At the same time, we are also afraid of being judged by others - this fear of failure can be incredibly intimidating and lead us to avoid physical activity altogether.

Low self-esteem

Fear of failure often goes hand-in-hand with low self-esteem; we may feel like we're not good enough or capable of making the necessary changes in our lives to reach our fitness goals. This quickly becomes a slippery slope that, more often than not, sees us talk ourselves out of moving anywhere, let alone off the couch.

Lack of motivation

We all have days when it's tough to summon the willpower and determination needed to start exercising. This lack of motivation can be a major roadblock and lead to procrastination because we can always start tomorrow, right?

Related: 7 Ways to Stay Motivated to Work Out


Physical Challenges

Lack of time

Between work, family, and other responsibilities, finding time to exercise can be difficult. When we don't have sufficient time in our day or week to fit physical activity into our routine, skipping a session or two is easy.

Could you imagine having to work an 8-hour job, pick your child up from school, and make dinner, all to realise that you only have a few hours left of the day to commit to (some/any) exercise?

That's what most of us regularly face, making it even harder to make time for physical activity.

Lack of sleep and poor diet

Getting enough rest and eating a balanced, nutritious diet are also essential factors when exercising - without proper rest, our energy levels deplete, and we may feel just too exhausted to work out. And if our diet isn't providing us with the appropriate fuel, it can be hard to stay motivated and exercise consistently.

Not fully recovering between workouts

Exercise forces us to put our bodies through a certain amount of stress, and while it can be uncomfortable in the moment, this short-term pain is essential for long-term gains!

Remember: Don't push yourself too hard. Allow your body ample time to rest and recover after each session – especially if you're engaging in high-intensity or repetitive activities.

After a workout, your body needs time to rest and recuperate. The best time for this is within 24 hours of exercising.

If you don't rest, your muscles won't have a chance to recharge, and it will be harder to work out again. To make sure your body can recover well, do things that help your body before working out again.

There are four core aspects to consider about recovering properly between workouts:

  • Releasing any tension and stress through muscle relaxation.
  • Strengthening and restoring your muscles to optimal performance
  • Diminishing the inflammation and restoring balance to your body.
  • Getting ample amount of rest.

Tips for Getting Started

Now that we've looked at some common barriers that prevent us from exercising, let's discuss some strategies for overcoming them:

Find a workout buddy

Having someone to work out with can keep you both accountable and motivated.

Working out with a partner allows you to share your successes, struggles, and frustrations during your fitness journey.

Most times, we're our own worst enemies, and that's why it's so challenging to start exercising. It's easy to get in the gym, and within the first 15 minutes of working out, say to ourselves, "Ok, this is a bit much; maybe I can go a bit harder tomorrow."

However, having someone else pushing you and cheering for your successes can make all the difference.

Set achievable goals

The key to staying motivated and progressing with your fitness is to set realistic, achievable goals; start small and break down bigger goals into smaller ones that are easier to accomplish.

This will help you stay focused and reach your desired outcome without getting overwhelmed or discouraged.

For example, if you know that "lack of time" is a consistent struggle, try switching to working out in the morning.

Starting your day with exercise is not only a great way to energise yourself, but it also eliminates the risk of procrastinating and skipping out on your workout. This means that you can go about your daily tasks without having to stress over finding time for physical activity later in the day.

Create a reward system

If you're having trouble sticking to your exercise routine, try creating a reward system.

Each time you reach one of your goals, give yourself something special as recognition for your hard work.

This could be anything from buying yourself a new pair of sneakers or treating yourself to an indulgent meal - it's up to you!

Whatever it is, make sure it's something that will keep you motivated and help push you to reach your ultimate fitness goals.

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to get started with a new workout routine, especially if you're finding yourself facing common barriers such as lack of motivation, energy levels, and time.

However, by setting achievable goals, creating a reward system, and finding a workout buddy, you can stay motivated.

So, take it one step at a time, and don't be afraid to challenge yourself.

Remember: pain is essential for long-term gains! 

And with these tips, you have all the tools you need to make exercising a part of your lifestyle.

Good luck and happy training!

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