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The Mental Barriers to Exercise – Part One

written by: Chrissie • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 1/8/2009

This article highlights research coming out of Temple University that indicates the true mental barriers to exercise that overweight people face today. What are these mental barriers? Can they be overcome?

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    When it comes to exercise and physical fitness, we all have a list of reasons and excuses for putting it off. Unfortunately, the more we need physical fitness in our lives, the more difficult it is to actively engage in the process. Very often, motivation to simply ‘move it move it’ is simply not enough. For some people, taking on the act of exercise and fitness is much more difficult than others. Yes, many mental barriers exist when it comes to exercise, which is why our culture has the obesity problem that it does today. Many people simply cannot overcome these barriers. What are the mental barriers to exercise, and more importantly, can you overcome them?

    Recent research coming out of Temple University examines barriers to exercise. This study found that 278 women defined as severely overweight had a very difficult time adding fitness to their life for many reasons. Women reported that they felt too large for exercise, that they feared failure or injury, or thought their health was too poor to engage in fitness. The study went on for one year, and even after a year, these same women reported the same barriers to fitness.

    This research is enlightening because from it we learn from that the women that need fitness the most have the widest range of mental barriers that prevent them from getting it. These barriers go beyond the standard excuses: I don’t have time, I can’t afford a gym membership, I don’t have time, and I don’t have time. Standard excuses are easily overcome. Anyone that truly WANTS fitness in their lives will make the time to do it, find the money for a gym or health club membership, or find a way to incorporate fitness at home. Unfortunately, for obese women, these mental barriers are not so easily overcome. It’s beyond a matter of simply ‘wanting’ to do it.

    For the women in this study, and for millions of overweight people across North America, the mental barriers to exercise are real. It is not a simple matter of not wanting to do it, or being too lazy to become active. These mental barriers are psychological factors that prevent many people from being physically active. The longer that these barriers exist, the greater the risk to that individual’s overall health.

    The good news? These barriers CAN be overcome!! Obese and overweight individuals that suffer from true psychological factors that prevent them from exercising CAN be helped! You are not alone. Do you want to change your life? Do you want to overcome the mental barriers that are preventing you from being active? Talk to your doctor or seek out a counselor today and ask them about how you can change the way you view fitness forever.

    References:

    Temple University Study: Mental barriers hamper obese women's efforts to get exercise