Only 23.2% of American adults get as much physical activity as they should, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Did you know that adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week and 2 days of muscle strengthening activity?
It is easy to come up with many reasons/excuses for not exercising – I’m too tired. I’m too out of shape. I don’t have time.
Here are 10 of the most common excuses for NOT exercising and some helpful solutions to overcome those excuses:
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. Exercise increases 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. Even low-intensity and moderate exercise can improve your energy levels!
- Solution #1: 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, you will be able to challenge yourself more and move into more moderate or high-intensity exercise.
- Solution #2: Exercising with a friend can motivate you to keep your commitment to exercise even when you are tired.
- 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 go into 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 help you destress and clear your mind.
NOTE: Exercise cannot make up for either not enough or poor quality sleep. Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders can disrupt your sleep cycles, leaving you tired all day. Talk with your doctor if you or your spouse feels your sleep is compromised. Click here to learn more about sleep apnea.
EXCUSE #2: I can’t afford a gym.
The cost of gym memberships can vary widely — from $10 to over $200 a month. In 2021, it was reported that the average cost of a gym membership was $37.71. In 2019, over 64 million Americans were members of a fitness center. However, 67% of those 55 million people never used their memberships.
- Solution #1: 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.
- Solution #2: There are many free or very affordable exercise videos online and on YouTube, Netflix, etc.
- Solution #3: Utilize your phone and download an app!
- The Nike Training Club (iOS & Android) is completely free and is a great resource for exercise ideas and even workout routines.
- Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout (iOS & Android) is not only a fast, free, and efficient way to workout, but it can also be used by up to 6 family members so you and your loved ones can get fit together!
- 5K Runner: Couch to 5K Trainer (iOS & Android) is one of the most popular apps out there and is perfect for beginners! By combining walking & running, the workouts provided are guaranteed to get you moving and keep you motivated.
- Freeletics: HIIT Fitness Coach (iOS & Android) is a great option for those with minimal/no fitness equipment. This app provides plenty of body-weight exercises for people of all fitness levels!
- Map My Run by Under Armour (iOS & Android) is the perfect way to track your walking/running/biking. This app can help you keep track of workouts you’ve already completed and even create routes so that you can set yourself up for maximum goal completion!
EXCUSE #3: I don’t have time. Or I am a full time 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.
- Solution #1: 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: How much television do you watch? Try moving your body while you watch! You can use resistance bands or free weights for strength training, walk in place or pedal away on an exercise bicycle. It’s also the perfect time to squeeze in an ab workout!
- Solution #3: 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.
- Solution #4: Exercise with your kids. Go bike riding, shoot some hoops, go swimming, or walk around the block and explore the neighborhood with your children. If you have a dog, bring them along!
BONUS SOLUTION: With more and more people working from home, you can exercise while you’re working! Standing desks have become increasingly popular and many people have paired them with a small treadmill. Think how many steps your could get in during a meeting or while you’re answering emails!
EXCUSE #4: I need to be motivated to exercise.
It can be difficult to stay motivated, especially if you are fixated on seeing results! While weight loss and overall health may be part of your goal, it’s also important that you feel good. Here are some resources for a little extra support:
- Solution #1: Make a chart or keep a log (Google “Exercise Chart” for examples) or track your workouts using a tracking app like Strava or HabitBull . Another great app is Strides which allows you to track any healthy habit you are looking to adapt. Also, most smart phones have features that track how many steps you take everyday– aim for 7,000-10,000!
- Solution #2: Create incentives to celebrate your progress! An incentive can be as small as enjoying a leisurely activity like reading a book or listening to a podcast. Or if you’d like to level up, you can purchase a new piece of workout clothing or take yourself for a massage.
Pro Tip: Choosing an incentive that supports your overall goals will not only leave you feeling good in the moment, but will also help propel you into the next part of your wellness journey!
EXCUSE #5: I don’t like 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 family member 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: Ask a friend to meet you for a weekend walk. If you enjoy fitness classes, ask a colleague to join you for one after work or introduce yourself to other people in the class. Exercising with a partner or a group increases motivation and consistency.
- Solution #2: If your friends aren’t into exercise, there are several fitness-focused get-togethers on Meetup.com or Zogsports.com .
EXCUSE #6: I get bored easily. Exercise is 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 rut.
- Solution #1: Find fun exercises that you enjoy and remember that it doesn’t need to be complicated! Join a neighborhood walking group. Go swimming. Try jumping rope. Throw on some roller blades! Sign up for Zumba or a cycling class. Join a sports league. Or go dancing. There’s an exercise for everyone!
- Solution #2: Exercising with a friend can be fun and great entertainment! Join a group (see EXCUSE #5, Solution #2) or round up friends to join you on a hike, take a bike ride, go dancing, or take a class at the gym. Every once in a while, try something totally new. Variety is the spice of life!
- Solution #3: If it makes exercise more enjoyable for you, it’s OK to watch TV, listen to a podcast, talk on the phone, or read while you’re on the exercise bike or treadmill. It will help the time pass more quickly and help you dread the workout less!
- Solution #4: Make a list of exercises in 3 columns: ones you like, ones you know you don’t like, and ones you’d be willing to try. Make your way down the list of activities you’re willing to try and start seeing if your “like” list grows! If you enjoy what you are doing, you will be more apt to continue. Don’t force yourself to workout in ways that you don’t enjoy.
Excuse #7: I’m too old/out of shape/uncoordinated/embarrassed to exercise.
When something is foreign or uncomfortable, it’s normal to want to avoid it! Whether you feel too old, too out of shape, or ridiculous in workout clothes, there is a simple answer: Start small, but start with something.
- Solution #1: If exercise is hard on your joints, try 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. If your physical limitations are more serious, check with your doctor, or find an athletic trainer who can help you figure out exercises that are still safe and easy to do.
- Solution #2: Bicycling is great exercise for people of all ages and physical types. And there are many ways to do it! You can start on a stationary bike and transition to a bike you can ride around. Once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget that skill because it becomes part of your unconscious memory. You can bike with friends, family, or on your own. Check out Healthline for the many benefits of bike riding.
- Solution #3: 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 and remember that progress at any pace is still progress!
- Solution #4: 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.
EXCUSE # 8: I’ve tried before. Or I can’t stick with a program.
This is a very common struggle for a lot of people! Our advice: Set micro goals instead of focusing on accomplishing something that seems impossible.
- Solution #1: Keep a log and post it in a public space – your refrigerator, or even on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. Your friends, family, and followers can offer words of encouragement and you might even meet some new virtual friends along the way! A log also helps you see if you’re starting to slack off (see EXCUSE #4, Solution #1).
- Solution #2: Having an exercise buddy keeps you accountable. You are more likely to show up to exercise if you know someone is expecting you to be there. Also, having someone with you during your highs and lows will help you build confidence!
EXCUSE #9: I don’t like to work out around the opposite sex.
Exercising around the opposite sex might make you feel uncomfortable, or inadequate.
- Solution: 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 hate sweating. Or I don’t want to take another shower and reapply makeup.
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: Work out first thing in the morning, before you shower and get ready for your day.
- Solution #2: Try wearing sweat-wicking workout apparel.
- Solution #3: Break up exercise into shorter chunks during the day. Take a 15-minute walk during your lunch break and 15-minutes after work.
- Solution #4: 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.
It’s easy to come up with an excuse to not exercise! 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 excuse is more powerful than the importance of your health!
Your commitment to healthy living is contagious! By taking care of yourself, you are inspiring others to do the same.