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Top 10 Excuses (and Their Solutions!) for Not Exercising Regularly

In my recent blog, Top 10 Reasons to Exercise Regularly, I talked about the benefits of incorporating movement into your day, every day. If you're struggling to find time and are finding excuses, I guarantee you'll find a solution to it here, so keep reading!

In spite of the well documented benefits of exercising, only 5% of adults in the U.S. exercise the prescribed 30 minutes a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is easy to come up with many reasons/excuses for not exercising – I’m too tired. I’m too overweight. I don’t have time. Below are 10 of the most common excuses for NOT exercising and clever solutions to overcome them.

EXCUSE #1: I'm too tired to exercise

Exercise is a paradox – it can make your muscles physically tired, but you’ll actually feel more energized from it. It increases your blood flow which means that your heart is pumping oxygen to your brain, muscles, and tissues faster. It also promotes the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and natural endorphins that will make you feel better and more energized.

SOLUTION #1: Exercise anyway!

When you feel too tired to work out, the solution is to actually exercise. Begin with low to moderate intensity exercise. Try walking, biking or yoga. Over time, move into more moderate or high-intensity exercise.

SOLUTION #2: Exercise with a friend

Exercising with a friend can motivate you to keep your commitment to exercise even when you are tired. Mask up and go for a social distanced walk, jog or hike.

SOLUTION #3: Exercise during your most energetic time of the day

It may help to work out first thing in the morning before your day gets away from you. Can you wake up 30 minutes earlier or start work 30 minutes later? Can you extend your lunch break in the middle of the day to allow for a brisk walk? Exercising after work might sound exhausting, but it will actually calm and invigorate you.

EXCUSE #2: I can't afford a gym membership or fitness equipment

The cost of gym memberships can vary widely — from $10 to over $200 a month. In 2015 nearly 55 million Americans were members of a fitness center. However, 67% of those 55 million people never used their memberships.

SOLUTION #1: Explore more affordable options

Instead of spending money on a gym membership, look for more affordable solutions like creating a simple home gym or taking a brisk 30 minute walk in your neighborhood. Also, there are many free or very affordable exercise videos online and on YouTube, Netflix, etc. Exercising doesn’t need to cost a lot money.

EXCUSE #3: I don’t have time to exercise or I am a parent

Between kids, commuting, work and other responsibilities of life, our modern 24/7 lifestyle often leaves us feeling like there is just not enough time in the day to fit in a workout. Exercise becomes a low priority in our already crammed schedules.

SOLUTION #1: Stop trying to find time. Make it.

Instead of trying to find time to work out, think about how you can make time. Some activity is better than none. The trick is to find a block of time in your daily schedule that’s consistently free of commitments. That might be before or after work, during your lunch hour, or after dropping the kids off at school. The time commitment can be minimal. Start with 10 minutes in your day. The next week, go for 11 minutes and the following week, 12 minutes. Soon that found time will become part of your schedule. Walk every time you are on the phone so that you can knock out some more steps.

SOLUTION #2: Workout while you watch tv

How much television do you watch? Don’t allow yourself to watch TV unless you are exercising, or have already exercised that day. While watching TV, use resistance bands for strength training, walk in place or pedal away on an exercise bicycle.

SOLUTION #3: Exercise with the kids

If your kids are young, pop them in a stroller and take a few laps around the neighborhood. As they get older, exercise while your child is at their after-school practice. Walk briskly around the ball field, or run up and down the school stairs during music class. For extra motivation, team up with another parent so you have an exercise buddy.

For those with older kids, go bike riding, swimming, or walk around the block and explore the neighborhood with your children.

EXCUSE #4: I need to motivation to exercise

If losing weight or your general health isn’t enough of reason to exercise and you need extra incentives, look for ways to find what will work to motivate you to get moving.

SOLUTION #1: Track or log your workouts

Make a chart, keep a log or track your workouts using a tracking app like Strava or HabitBull. You can also Google "fitness journal" for a ton of great options. Select what works best for you.

SOLUTION #2: Reward yourself with positive reinforcements

Give yourself a reward for meeting your fitness goals – a reward that you really want. For example, if you love massages, book a massage at the end of every month you complete your target number of work outs. Or, buy yourself a new workout outfit.

EXCUSE #5: It hate to exercise alone

It is sometimes hard to get motivated to exercise on your own. Having an exercise buddy can help. Exercising with a friend or significant other can make your workout time fly by and give you an extra incentive to push a little harder. It is also easier to make an excuse to not exercise when no one holds you accountable.

SOLUTION #1: Exercise with a friend

Ask a friend to take a socially distanced walk, jog bike ride, or hike. Or, see if some colleagues want to join you for a fitness class after work. Exercising with a partner or a group increases motivation and consistency.

SOLUTION #2: Do app-based tracking competitions with other members

If your friends or partner aren’t into exercise, there are several fitness-focused apps that will allow you to track and compete against other members. More on this to come later.

EXCUSE #6: I get bored easily and it's no fun

The key to beating boredom is to find an exercise program that both caters to your fitness level and that you actually look forward to. It is also important to switch things up every few weeks or months so that you don’t fall into a routine.

SOLUTION #1: Find fun exercises that you enjoy

Find fun exercises that you enjoy. Try inline skating, biking, or gardening. Join a mommy walking group that supports social distancing and mask wearing. Sign up for online Zumba or cycling classes if you have a bike. Join a sports league when the pandemic and its restrictions subside. Honestly, there’s an exercise for everyone!

SOLUTION #2: Watch tv or listen to a podcast while working out

As I mentioned earlier, if it makes exercise more enjoyable for you, it’s OK to watch TV, listen to a podcast or read while you’re on the exercise bike or treadmill, doing ab work or a HIIT style workout as long as your workout is still challenging.

SOLUTION #3: Pick exercises that you LIKE

Not sure what type of exercise or movement you might enjoy? Make a list of exercises you don’t like and then a list of activities you might be willing to try. Work your way down the list until you find one or several that you enjoy. If you enjoy what you are doing, you will be more apt to continue.

SOLUTION #4: Do something that doesn't feel like a workout

Rough house or dance with the kids, dance alone to your fave tunes, aim to get 250 steps every hour around the house, fidget (you can actually burn up to 350 calories extra a day by fidgeting! You're only limited by your imagination here. There are no excuses.

EXCUSE #7: I'm too...

I hear I’m too old, too fat, too uncoordinated and too embarrassed to exercise all the time from my clients. When something is foreign or uncomfortable, it’s a natural response to avoid it. Whether you feel too old, too overweight, or ridiculous in workout clothes, there is a simple solution. Start small, but start with something.

SOLUTION #1: Do something low impact to reduce strain

I covered this already, but if you enjoy it you will actually want to do it! If exercise is hard on your joints, try low impact alternatives like swimming or take a water fitness class. Exercising in water is easier on your joints and the stronger your muscles get, the more they can support your joints and the less you’ll hurt.

Bicycling is great exercise for people of all ages and physical types. Once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget that skill because it becomes part of your unconscious memory.

If your physical limitations are more serious, check with your doctor, or find an athletic trainer like me, who can help you figure out exercises that are still safe and easy to do.

SOLUTION #2: Do what feels comfortable

If you’re self-conscious about your weight, you could start by walking with friends, working out in the privacy of your home, or exercising with a trainer who’s supportive. Wear clothes that feel comfortable.

SOLUTION #3: Ask for help

Are you unfamiliar with the equipment at the gym? No one wants to look like a newbie when trying to figure out a weight training machine. BUT, remember that everyone was new at one time. Many gyms offer FREE services to members so that they understand how to use equipment and set up a routine to get results and do it safely. Join a class that can show you how to strength train and how to use different pieces of equipment. Bring a friend that has a bit more knowledge than you! Ask the front desk attendant about days and times when there are fewer members around. Hire a personal trainer, like me, or head on over to YouTube for some free guidance. There are so many options to get the help you need.

EXCUSE #8: I've tried before, but I can't stick with a program

If you set goals that are small and realistic, you will more likely to feel like a success, not a failure.

SOLUTION #1: Keep a log and post it in a public place

That fitness tracking I just talked about in Excuse #4, Solution #1, post it in a public space – your refrigerator or even on Facebook. Your friends and family can offer words of encouragement. A log also helps you see if you’re starting to fall off track.

SOLUTION #2: Get an accountability partner

Having an exercise buddy keeps you accountable. You can do daily check-in's while in the pandemic and once we get back to some semblance of normality you can workout together. You are more likely to show up to exercise if you know someone is expecting you to be there. If funds exist, hire a coach or personal trainer to formulate a plan and deliver your workouts virtually until you can do in person training again.

EXCUSE #9: I don't like to workout around the opposite sex

Exercising around the opposite sex can often make you feel uncomfortable, or inadequate.

SOLUTION #1: Join a gym that offers gender-specific classes or workout areas or workout at home

See if your gym offers gender-specific classes or workout areas. Of course, working out in the privacy of your own home also solves this problem!

EXCUSE #10: I don’t like to sweat

If you don’t like to sweat or hate the thought of taking another shower and reapplying makeup, here's something important you need to know. Sweat is your body’s way of cooling and detoxifying itself. The amount of sweat you produce depends on several factors including your gender, age, fitness level, genetics and how hard you are working. However, exercise doesn’t have to mean you end up dripping in sweat. There are many exercises that burn calories and build muscle while not leaving you sweaty. If you are avoiding exercise because you hate to sweat or don’t have time to freshen up, here are a few ideas…

SOLUTION #1: Workout first thing in the morning

What better way to start your day then to workout and get those feel good endorphins flowing? Not only can you check it off your list from the get-go, you can shower afterwards and head on into work.

SOLUTION #2: Wear sweat-wicking workout apparel

Whatever your favourite brand of workout clothing is, you're sure to find sweat wicking tops, yoga tights and sports bras to keep you feeling cool and dry during those tough, sweat filled workouts that get your heart pumping.

SOLUTION #3: Break up exercise into shorter chunks during the day

As mentioned earlier, you can break your exercise up into smaller segments throughout the day. Take a 15-minute walk during your lunch break and 15-minutes after work or dinner.

SOLUTION #4: Look for less sweaty alternatives

If you don’t like getting sweaty, you can work out indoors where it’s air conditioned. You can swim. Or try a slower-paced workout such as yoga that that focuses less on cardio and more on stretching, balance, flexibility, and strengthening your muscles.

There will always be a “good excuse.” But research has consistently shown in over 70 different studies, nearly every group studied – healthy individuals, those with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease and even cancer patients – benefited from consistent exercise. No more excuses!

As you can see, it is very simple to include exercise in your day, even if you are very busy. Pick one or two of these ideas and give them a go. You do have time to exercise – you just have to be creative about it. And remember, the only bad workout is the one you didn't do.

Need help getting a regular exercise regimen in place? Contact me for a FREE 45-minute consultation to get started.

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