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How to overcome common barriers to being active

Establishing and maintaining physical activity for older adults can be challenging. Especially when you’re starting a new routine, it’s tempting to overlook those challenges or assume that you can overcome them with sheer determination and willpower.

Instead, it’s often more productive to identify what those barriers might be and develop strategies to address them. While you can’t make barriers go away, you can prepare for them and give yourself the best chance of succeeding as possible. 

Here are some of the most common barriers to being active for older adults. As you read through this list, think to yourself: is this or could this be a barrier for me?

1. It’s been a while since you’ve exercised

The dread of starting to exercise after a long break can be overwhelming. Shifting your mindset and starting slow with short, manageable exercises can help you get started. 

2. You’re in pain

Chronic pain can make it very difficult to find the will to exercise even though low-impact physical activity is one of the few ways to help lessen that pain. Finding low-impact exercises that don’t aggravate your pain, working with your healthcare providers, and trying pain management tips like heat/ice treatment can help. 

3. You’re too busy

With our increasingly busy and sedentary lives, finding the time for exercise is a big challenge. Squeezing in shorter workouts, being active while doing other tasks, or making it social are all great ways to fit exercise into your busy schedule. 

4. You find exercise boring

If exercise feels like a chore, no wonder you can’t find the motivation to stick with it! You’ll have a much better chance at staying active if you find exercises and activities that you enjoy. 

5. You’re tired

Exercising when you just don’t have the energy can feel like an impossible task. Changing up your routine, trying Tai Chi or yoga, or working out with a friend could give you the energy you need to stay active.

There are many other potential barriers, but the mindset and techniques needed to overcome them may be similar. Try writing down a list of what you expect your barriers to exercise will be and think of solutions that might help you — like setting goals. You got this!