What barriers keep me from being healthy?

A couple of lovers divided barrier

Barriers that keep people from being healthy fall into two categories: those within the patient’s control and those not within their control

  • Barriers within the patient’s control include: 
    • Time 
      • With work, school and a myriad of other responsibilities, it can feel as though there is barely any time to breathe, let alone to exercise
      • However, it is important to prioritize the time to make room for new and healthier habits. Take a look at your daily schedule and see where you can carve out 7 minutes to either get up from where you’re working, stretch or breathe. 
    • Habits
      • Old habits die hard for the very reason that they help decrease anxiety. Some of these habits may include snacking as a form of comfort. When breaking out of old habits to establish new and healthier ones, it’s important to know that the process won’t be easy. So, have people or things that can hold you accountable to breaking your old habits
    • Lack of support
      • When trying to be healthier, it is important to have a strong support network as without this support, it may seem challenging to be healthy.
      • The importance of your support network is that it can keep you accountable to achieving your health goals. 
      • For example: it will be easier to commit to a 30-minute run, if you’re running with someone else 
    • Lack of Resources/equipment
      • Often when people think about health, they think exercising and so they believe that they need certain equipment and work out gears to get started. Not having these things can leave a person feeling like they have nowhere to start.
      • However, if exercise is the avenue that you choose to explore to become healthier, you can start by selecting activities little to no equipment or facilities (I.e., walking, jogging, jumping rope, workout apps). 
    • Lack of Motivation and/or energy
      • It can feel overwhelming to start a new routine. To lessen this anxiety, try to plan ahead. Write a to-do list and schedule physical activity for specific times/days and check it off your list when you complete it. 
      • Pay attention to the time of day that you feel most energetic and try to fit an activity into that time frame. 
      • Keep in mind that life still happens around you so sometimes you may not get to exercise on a day you had planned to. Be okay with changes to your schedule and instead identify another day or time that will allow you to engage in physical activity
    • Family caregiving obligations
      • Having kids and other family caregiving responsibilities can make it feel like you have no time to engage in exercise. To combat this, include your children in your exercise routine. Take them out for a walk together, play tag or other running games with them.
      • By engaging your kids in your exercise routing, you’re able to spend time with them and thus fulfill your caregiving obligations as well as ensure that they are themselves getting the daily physical activity they need to stay healthy.  
    • Lack of confidence or knowledge
      • It can be difficult to make healthy changes when you don’t know how to start or feel comfortable/confident doing so. Maybe you’ve never been to a gym before and don’t know what the different equipment are for. Or you’ve never had tofu before, so you’re unsure of how to cook it or which kind to buy. 
      • To get started, you may consider seeking help from experts (I.e., personal trainers or nutritionists on social media or in person). These experts can help you identify a health pathway that is most suited to you and your goals, while supporting you in putting your plan to action. 
  • Barriers not within the patient’s control include:
    • Cost
      • The cost of a gym membership or groceries can act as barriers to being healthy. However, instead of going to the gym to exercise, consider using free workout apps to guide your at-home exercise. These apps often provide you with workouts that require little to no equipment and thus are low cost and affordable.
      • Healthy food can also be expensive and therefore can make it difficult to eat well when you’re on a tight budget. What you can do to get around this however is to plan your meals for the upcoming week. When planning your meals, you can create your shopping list to see what food items you will actually need to get. Once you’ve created this list, be sure to stick to it. To avoid getting sidetrack, shop with an accountability buddy who reminds you to only get the things you need for the week. 
    • Anxiety and depression
      • Dealing with anxiety and depression can make it difficult to have the energy and commitment needed to facilitate a healthier lifestyle.
      • If you find that you’re feeling hopeless or worthless, getting diagnosed and beginning medical treatments as well as behavioral modification can help you better manage the symptoms that come with anxiety and depression and thus overcome these barriers to achieving a healthier lifestyle. 
      • Additionally, exercise and healthy eating can themselves be a form of treatment for these disorders.
    • Ability to afford health insurance
      • The lack of affordable health insurance can be very frustrating and make it seem like taking control of your own health is impossible. However, even if you don’t have health insurance, you have options!
      • Check out this link to see if you are eligible to apply for a health insurance plan: https://www.healthcare.gov/quick-guide/eligibility/
      • To enroll in a health insurance plan, visit https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage/. Here, you can create an account and apply.
      • If you are ineligible to apply for marketplace health insurance, check out this list of free health clinics https://www.freeclinics.com/. Select your state and read about the various free clinics that might be available to you. Check out our Community Resources page for more info and resources for free preventive health services.
    • Ability to afford medication
      • In the event that you need medication to sustain your health, the inability to afford your medication can act as a barrier to being healthy. Consider the following possibilities to reducing the financial burden caused by medication prices:
        • Be open with your physician about your finances and ask if medication samples are available. 
        • Consider downloading apps like GoodRX which can help you find coupons for your prescriptions in pharmacies near you, thus decreasing the amount you have to pay for your medications. Other online resources to explore include: BlinkHealth, WeRx.org and SlashRx
        • If possible, shop at independent pharmacies instead as these may offer lower prices on brand-name products and sometimes even offer discounts if you pay with cash. Generics however may be lower at large pharmacy chains like Walgreens.  
        • Check to see if your pharmacy offers prescription savings clubs that you can join. This will help you save on the cost of your medications
        • Look into patient assistance programs that are designed to help patients afford their medications. These programs can be national, state-sponsored, regional or local. Some examples to get you started include: NeedyMeds, Partnership for Prescription Assistance, RxAssist, RxHope and RxOutreach)
  • Are preventive services covered by insurance?
    • Yes, in fact, the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies, including health care insurance purchased through the marketplace, to cover preventive services with no copay or coinsurance.
    • Check out this link for a comprehensive list of all free preventive services: https://www.healthcare.gov/coverage/preventive-care-benefits/

If you are currently uninsured, check out our Community Resources tab for information on where you can get free health services.