Henry Lew Yuen Foong, Senior Psychologist at Singapore General Hospital shares the 5 common barriers to exercise and how to overcome them.
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The 5 other barriers to exercise
6) I’ve tried exercising in the past and failed
It’s normal to miss a session once in a while. It’s also alright to stop for a period of time. Our mind and body adapt quickly when we resume our exercise routine.
7) I lack confidence
Confidence can be built gradually. Set increasingly difficult yet achievable goals. Pick process goals which focus on the frequency and duration of exercise, e.g. “I will swim twice a week”. Don’t focus too much on outcome goals like “I will have six-pack abs”. It is easier to see progress and build confidence when we track the efforts we put into exercise.
8) I find the crowd intimidating
Go to the gym, pool or exercise location at off-peak hours to feel less intimidated. Go to a less crowded branch. Remind yourself that others are just there to exercise and most of them will not pay you any attention. Start exercising the moment you arrive. This will help prevent your thoughts from running wild.
9) Exercise feels uncomfortable
During strength training, focus on the range of movement or count the repetitions. Concentrating on the task at hand will distract you from the sensations in your muscles. During rehabilitation or aerobic exercises, listen to upbeat music to shift your attention from the soreness or breathlessness. Music also tends to improve your mood during exercise.
10) I don’t know where to start (lack of skills and knowledge)
Read up on the topic and get advice from professionals or friends. Join a beginner’s class so that you won’t feel pressurised.
Tips to overcome barriers to exercise
Using imagery to overcome barriers to exercise
You can also use imagery to increase your willpower and motivation. This technique can be used many ways, for example:
- You can imagine yourself using the rower or stepper in the gym more frequently.
- You can imagine yourself overcoming tiredness and feeling refreshed right after exercising.
Imagery can also be helpful to help you overcome time management issues. Think about the precise time you will exercise, and how it will fit in with your other daily activities.
Changing perception of barriers
Most if not all barriers to exercise can be overcome. Sometimes, our perception that the barriers are daunting may prevent us from taking any action (whether or not the barriers are real). It may be helpful to adopt a different perspective.
“There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one of them.” - Ralph Marston, US motivator
Need help adopting a better lifestyle? The
LIFE Centre at
Singapore General Hospital (SGH) has a multidisciplinary team of experts who can provide you with guidance on weight management, exercise and diet.