Overcoming Barriers to Staying Active in Fall

Steve injured his ankle in a car accident. Noreen needed treatment for a genetic back problem. Both found restorative help through physical therapy, which uses scientifically based methods such as therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, neuromuscular re-education, gait training and modalities to treat disease, injury and disability. 

October is National Physical Therapy Month which raises awareness of how physical therapy assists people in improving function, stamina and overall health. Physical therapy is often a successful healing alternative to pain medications and surgery. 

Seasonal Shift in Physical Activity

The think Doctors of Physical Therapy and physical therapy assistants are hands-on healthcare professionals who improve the mobility and physical performance of individuals of all ages and lifestyles. From infants who need help with balance and muscle control to centurians slowed by aching joints, physical therapy patients benefit from personal, customized treatment.

As we shift from the busy activities of summer to cooler fall weather and daylight fades earlier, many people naturally slow down in their physical activity and fitness routines. Regular physical exercise can help improve chronic health conditions, manage weight and boost cognitive function and mental well-being. 

If any barriers stand in the way of you staying active and opting for a more sedentary lifestyle this fall, our thinkphysical therapy team is here to help. Our physical therapists partner with you to design a safe and effective plan to keep you moving and staying healthy. We collaborate with the rest of your healthcare team to address your specific needs, challenges and goals. 

Obstacles to Staying Active

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has compiled The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans that recommends “adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.” This total can be broken into shorter time spans such as 30 minutes of activity five times a week. 

So what keeps many of us sitting at home instead of stretching our muscles and putting in some sweat equity? Here are several common obstacles to staying active.

Pain and discomfort. Pain can limit a person’s health, independence and quality of life. Even with chronic diseases or disability, there are activities that can improve your muscle, lung and heart strength. Our thinkphysical therapy team understands how your body works and can help you reduce and safely manage pain or mobility problems.

Time constraints. We all juggle work, family and personal commitments in our schedules. Life can get overloaded at times. When it does, carving out time for physical activity can move to the back burner. Think physical therapists can recommend how to weave in exercise and play into your week so you increase your heart rate and move your muscles and joints. 

Limited access to a gym or equipment. You do not need a health club membership or the latest exercise gear to enjoy the benefits of exercise. Even if you stay in your home and use household objects such as milk jugs and books as body weights, you can improve your flexibility, balance and strength. Walking, dancing and climbing stairs are all examples of physical activity that does not require any equipment. 

Ideas for Staying Active in Fall

Physical activity is something every person can participate in, even if you are confined to a wheelchair or must use adaptive equipment. As with any fitness routine, it is best to consult first with your think physical therapy team to make sure we identify the best activity plan for your age and ability. Preventing injury and finding the right type and duration of physical activity is crucial to reaching your goals and staying consistent with your exercise. 

Also, if you continue with outdoor activities in autumn, beware of fall hazards. As temperatures drop this time of year, wet leaves and slick and icy surfaces can be a challenge to safe walking and cycling. You may want to exercise at mid-day when there is more sunlight and sidewalks and streets are dry. 

  • Work movement into everyday routines. Enjoy a brisk walk or hike with friends, your family or the dog. Park farther away in parking lots for work or when out running errands. Opt for climbing stairs instead of using the elevator or escalator. Get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way. 
  • Cycle indoors using a bicycle trainer. If you enjoy biking, but find some days are too difficult to cycle outdoors because of inclement weather or other factors, use an indoor bike trainer or rollers. There are several types of these stationary devices that allow you to keep pedaling from the convenience of your home or garage. A few indoor cycling apps allow you to enjoy scenic courses, climbs and group rides. 
  • Take advantage of public exercise areas. Many shopping malls, churches and large indoor venues open their doors to allow local folks to walk laps inside. Some of these buildings are available in fall and winter and others host walking guests year-round. For people who enjoy pool exercises, some community swim facilities offer free pool time to older adults or those with special physical conditions. 
  • Join virtual or online fitness classes from home. Pilates. Yoga. Jump rope workouts. The sky is the limit on the variety of exercise classes you can join through your television or computer screen. 
  • Become a SilverSneakers member. Select Medicare plans allow adults 65 years and older to use local health club facilities at no extra cost. A SilverSneakers membership also keep seniors moving with thousands of other members through online and on-demand classes and workouts. 


Fall is the perfect time to consult with our think physical therapy team to evaluate what your body needs to be its best. The changing seasons do not need to slow you down from keeping your muscle strength, cardiovascular functioning and coordination and balance in tune. 

Think physical therapists work in tandem with your think doctor and other practitioners to help eliminate pain, reduce inflammation, restore normal movement an promote faster healing. 

If you need quick assistance for an injury or an acute condition, our walk-in clinic treats anyone, even those who are not a think patient or do not have a primary care provider currently. To learn more about our wide-ranging whole person healthcare, visit our Services page online and choose your own think medical professionals by visiting our Meet Your Doctor page. 

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