There are many things that can hold people back from getting the physical activity they need for their overall health. If obesity or arthritis is getting in your way, take heart. Because for you, the stakes are higher – being physically active isn’t just important – it’s essential to relieving your pain.

First, you are not alone – not even close. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arthritis affects more than a third of people who are obese, and those people are 44 percent more likely to be physically inactive compared to people without arthritis. 

Knowing you need to get moving is one thing, but if you want to experience the pain-reducing and weight-managing benefits of more movement, you have to take the first step. 

Here are some barrier-busting tips to get you started. 

Find your courage. Embarking on a fitness program can be a challenge for anyone, but especially for people who know making that first move will likely be somewhat daunting. Don’t let fear prevent you from taking action to reduce pain and improve function. You may have to dig deep for the courage to get started, but you know you’ll feel better once you do. Think back to other challenges you’ve faced and how you rose to them. Are there any people you admire who have faced a similar challenge? How can you learn from them and challenge yourself as they did?

Start small. Even once you know you’re ready to make a change, there’s still one unanswered question: How do I get started? The best advice: Start small. Thirty minutes of exercise still counts if you break it into three 10-minute increments throughout a day. If you’re not quite bold enough to stroll into a gym and start working out, consider taking that first step at home. Try an exercise DVD, such as the Arthritis Foundation’s "Take Control with Exercise," to help boost your confidence in getting active.

Get advice. It’s important to always consult with your doctor before you begin any kind of physical activity program, particularly if you have other medical concerns. Your doctor may be able to refer you to exercise programs in your area. You also may consider seeking help from a professional such as a personal trainer or physical therapist who can teach you strengthening exercises that will build up weak muscles around your affected joints and help reduce pain.