Top 10 Reasons You Don't Exercise

It's Time to End the Excuses

Man stretching and operating TV during workout
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Are you too busy to exercise? Or perhaps you find it too boring or confusing? If so, you're not alone. Studies show that 60% of American adults don't get the recommended amount of physical activity, and over 25% of adults are not active at all. These statistics reflect the fact that many of us simply don't exercise. What's your excuse?

10. You Really Hate to Exercise

Enjoying exercise may seem impossible, but it can be done. Almost any exercise may feel hard at first but, with some practice and consistency, your body gets stronger and you may even start to like it. Choose something that fits your personality and lifestyle, such as:

  • Group fitness - If you like social exercise, most gyms offer a variety of everything from spinning and kickboxing to circuit and strength training.
  • Play Games - Games like EA Sports Active for Wii or Wii Fit Plus are great for having fun while you exercise.
  • ExerciseTV - Many cable providers offer ExerciseTV, a station that offers workouts anytime you like.
  • Exercise videos - You can exercise any time with videos right in your own living room. Check out your local library or video rental store or visit Total Fitness DVDs for videos you can order online.
  • Exercise at Home - Try these home workouts with your own equipment or use water bottles or milk jugs as weights. Work extra hard at chores like raking leaves, shoveling snow or sweeping to burn more calories.
  • Fitness Apps - If you have an iPhone or another smartphone, a variety of fitness apps can turn it into your very own personal trainer.

9. You've Tried to Exercise but You Keep Quitting

People often quit working out for a variety of reasons:

  • Doing too much too soon - Going from no exercise to 7 days at the gym is bound to leave you exhausted and burned out.
  • Confusion - If you're not sure how to get started, you may choose random exercises, wondering if you're even getting a decent workout.
  • Boredom - The treadmill and other machines offer great workouts, but walking or pedaling to nowhere can get old fast. You may wonder: Do I really have to do this every day for the rest of my life?
  • Soreness - Soreness is normal when you're a beginner, but you should be able to function. If you can't lift your head off the pillow the next day, you may not be thrilled to workout again.

If you're tempted to quit, that's a good sign you need to make some changes to your routine. Some ideas:

8. You Can't Afford a Gym Membership

There's no reason you have to join a gym to exercise, but there are more affordable options such as the YMCA or local community centers. More ways to save money:

  • Walking or running - All you need is a good pair of shoes for a simple, accessible workout.
  • Buy multi-use equipment - An exercise ball can be used for core work, weight training, and even cardio workouts. Dumbbells are often inexpensive and can be used for the entire body.
  • Workout at home - Use videos, make up your own routines or just put on some music and get moving.
  • Find free resources - The Internet is a great source for workouts and weight loss programs and your library is an excellent resource for trying workout videos or finding books about exercise.
  • Try no equipment workouts - You can get a great workout without any equipment, just by using your own body.​

7. You're Not Seeing Any Changes in Your Body

Not losing weight fast enough? Unfortunately, that's true for everyone. You don't put weight on overnight and it won't come off that quickly either. Once you start exercising, give your body time to react. It could take up to 12 weeks before you start seeing major changes, so make sure you've set realistic fitness goals and focus on the many benefits of exercise. It also helps to understand how weight loss really works.

6. You Don't Know How to Exercise

This is a popular excuse, but it won't fly what with the wealth of information at your fingertips. Try working with a personal trainer or use one of the free fitness and weight loss programs below to get started:

5. You Want to Exercise but You Have to Take Care of the Kids and Family

You don't have to neglect your family to fit in exercise. Carving out workout time will not only give you the energy you need for a busy schedule, it shows your kids what it means to be healthy. Some ideas:

  • Join a health club that has a daycare center.
  • Do exercise videos while the kids nap or while you're waiting for dinner to cook.
  • If they're old enough, have the kids participate in your routine by lifting very small weights, counting your repetitions, or take them with you on your daily walk.
  • Find activities the kids will enjoy.

4. You Can't Seem to Stay Motivated to Continue Working Out

If you're tired or stressed, it's hard to keep going with your workouts. However, waiting to feel motivated to exercise can actually backfire. Motivation is something you have to work at every day:

  • Learn about why you aren't motivated to exercise ways you can increase your motivation.
  • Remember your goals - Set reasonable weight loss goals and remind yourself of them every day.
  • Reward yourself - Each time you reach a goal, whether it's completing your workouts for the week, losing weight or having more energy, reward yourself with something you truly enjoy. A massage, a new exercise playlist, new running shoes or a quiet night reading your favorite book.
  • Learn how others stay motivated.
  • Make it a lifestyle change - Focusing on treating your body well with exercise and nutritious foods may keep you motivated, even if the weight loss is slow.

3. Exercise HURTS! 

You don't have to hurt yourself to reap the benefits of exercise. Some tips for making it more comfortable:

  • Ease into it - Start with a few days of moderate cardio (like walking) and basic strength workouts to build endurance and strength.
  • Stay in your target heart rate zone - You should be able to carry on a conversation if you're working at a moderate intensity.
  • Start light with your weights - When it comes to weight training, there should be effort involved since lean body tissue only grows when you challenge yourself. When you're just starting out, any weight you lift is a challenge, so focus more on good form and increase your weight once you've mastered the exercises.
  • Take extra rest days - If you're extra sore or exhausted, schedule extra rest days to allow your body the time it needs to repair and recover.

2. You Can't Make the Commitment to Stick to an Exercise Routine

When you look at exercise in the long term (i.e., that you have to exercise on a daily basis forever), it can be overwhelming. However, you don't have to change your life overnight. Some tips for staying committed to your workouts:

  • Start with small goals - It's easier to stick with exercise when your goal is to walk an extra 10 minutes each day or get up early for a short yoga workout.
  • Plan ahead - Plan your workouts and prepare for them ahead of time so you're not tempted to skip them.
  • Make exercise a priority - Is exercise really important to you or do you just want it to be? Figuring out what you really want can help you set your priorities.
  • Forget weight loss - It may be easier to commit to exercise if you're not worried about getting results.

1. You Don't Have Time

Physically inactive people have just as much free time as exercisers, so you can chuck this excuse. Here's how to get past a busy schedule:

  • Schedule your exercise time.
  • If you can't find a full 30 minutes during your day, break it up into 10 or 15-minute segments. Split workouts are just as effective as continuous workouts.
  • Use every trick in the book to squeeze in exercise. Get up a few minutes early and take a brisk walk, use 15 minutes of your lunch hour to walk the stairs and walk the dog or lift weights after work.
  • Keep a calendar of your workouts so you can track your progress and stay motivated.
  • Remember that exercise generates energy. The more energy you have, the more you'll get done each day.
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