I’m too tired. I’m too overweight. I don’t have time. It’s easy to come up with a zillion reasons NOT to exercise. Here are tips to overcome the top 10 excuses to working out.
Excuse #1: I can’t afford a gym.
The cost of gym memberships can vary widely — from $10 a month to more than $200. According to Statista.com, nearly 55 million Americans were members of a fitness center as of 2015. But here’s the rub — 67 percent of people with gym memberships never use them, so if you fall into that category the only weight you’ll lose is from your wallet.
Solution: Instead of putting your fitness dollars down the drain with an unused gym membership, look for more affordable solutions like creating a simple home gym and streaming videos online. The result: More muscle for less money.
Excuse #2: I’m way too tired to exercise.
Our 24/7 lifestyle often leaves us feeling busier and busier, and as a result, downright exhausted. “When I ask people to give me one word for how they feel most often, whether it’s a high school athlete or a group of leaders, they consistently use the word ‘tired’,” says Jarrod Spencer, Psy.D., sports psychologist at Mind of the Athlete in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “And it’s not just a physical fatigue. It’s a low emotional energy leaving us feeling negative and drained.” All this leaves us wanting to skip workouts to preserve what little energy we have left.
Solution: When you feel too tired to work out, Spencer says the solution is… to actually work out. “Working out is almost paradoxical. It can make your muscles physically tired, but you’ll actually feel more energized from it.” Once you start sweating, Spencer explains, your body will start releasing neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and natural endorphins that will make you feel better. You may need to find a mantra that helps to train your brain to overcome your tired body’s reluctance. Set a reminder on your phone that triggers positive notifications like “I’ll have more energy after I exercise” or “You’ll never regret a sweat session” to pop up before your scheduled workout. Planning to exercise with a friend will also motivate you to keep your commitment to exercise even when you’re pooped.
Excuse #3: I need more motivation than health to hit the gym.
If losing weight or your general health isn’t a good enough reason to work out and you need extra incentives, do some soul-searching to find what will work to motivate you to get moving.
Solution: Give yourself a reward for meeting your fitness goals — a reward you really want. If you love massages, book a massage at the end of every month you complete your target number of workouts. You can log your workouts using a habit-tracking app like HabitBull to keep you on-track. How about money as a motivating factor? Apps like Pact allow you to wager money on meeting your workout schedule. You receive cash when you hit your goals, but cough up money when you don’t. A more altruistic soul? Track your sweat sessions with the Charity Miles app that donates money to your choice of charity for every workout you log.
Excuse #4: I don’t have time.
Between kids and a commute, a job, and other responsibilities of life, it can feel hard to fit a workout in your daily schedule. There is only so much time in the day and with so much on our plates, working out can often get pushed to the back burner.
Solution: Instead of trying to find time to work out, think about how you can make time. The trick is to find a block of time in your daily schedule that’s consistently free of commitments. For some, that might be before or after work. For others, that might be during their lunch hour.
The time commitment can be minimal. If you can carve out just a half hour a day for exercise, you’ll have all the time you need to get in the best shape of your life.
“Many of us have ‘fear of missing out’ and so we have difficulty saying ‘no’ to things,” explains Spencer. “The key is learning how to say ‘no’ to some things and ‘yes’ to taking care of ourselves.”
Excuse #5: I don’t like working out alone.
Unless you have a crazy big supply of internal motivation, working out with a friend can make your workout time fly by and prompt you to push yourself a little harder. Since there is no accountability when we work out solo, it’s easier to flake or not give the workout your best effort.
Solution: Ask a friend to meet you for a weekend run or see if some colleagues want to join you for a HIIT session, a bootcamp, or a fitness class after work. Exercising with a partner or a group increases motivation and consistency.
Don’t have any friends (or at least any into fitness)? Find some by looking for upcoming fitness-focused get-togethers on Meetup.com, Zogsports.com, or your work bulletin board. You can also check out the Bvddy app which works like Tinder for your workouts, helping you find fellow squash players, jog buddies, or tennis partners to grow your sports — and social — life.
Excuse #6: I’m too old/fat/uncoordinated/embarrassed to exercise.
Sure, it may be easy for that size 0, twentysomething to just looooove going to the gym, but me? — you think — not so much. Whether you feel too old, too overweight, or ridiculous in workout wear to break a sweat, there is a simple solution. Start small, but start with something.
Solution: Go for a walk, says Spencer, ideally with a friend and in a park or somewhere else in nature. “Walking is the best way and the first step to get a person moving forward. Oftentimes, people won’t even realize how far they have gone!” And how many calories they’ve burned. Video workouts are another great option since they can be done in the privacy of your own home and often include examples of how to scale up or down the workout to match your ability and fitness level.
Excuse #7: I get bored easily.
Cringe at the thought of hitting the treadmill or same exercise class again? The key to beating boredom is to find a workout program that both caters to your fitness level and that you actually look forward to. It’s also important to switch things up every few weeks or months so you don’t fall into a “routine.”
Solution: If your gym doesn’t offer an assortment of classes to choose from, consider streaming workouts online, where you’ll find a variety of exercise styles and intensities. There’s something for every personality, exercise preference, and fitness level.
Excuse #8: I don’t like to sweat.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean grunting and groaning and dripping in sweat. There are a variety of effective workouts that burn calories and build muscle while not leaving you dripping in sweat.
Solution: Try a slower-paced workout that emphasizes stretching and controlled movements, like a beginner yoga class that focuses less on getting your heart pumping and more on experiencing a full-body stretch, increasing your balance and flexibility, as well as strengthening muscle by holding yoga poses.
Excuse #9: I’m a full-time parent.
Let’s be honest — kids are cute, but they take time, so parents and caregivers need to get creative in order to find ways to exercise with kids around.
Solution: When kids are young, pop them in a jogging stroller for a few laps around the neighborhood. As they get older, find ways to exercise that mesh well with your kids’ activities. Run trails at the baseball fields while your son goes to practice or do intervals on the school stairs while you wait for dance class to let out. Parents can also model healthy living by finding workouts that kids and parents can do together! Whether it’s a family bike ride, friendly game of hoops, or a dance-based workout, exercising as a family will help you spend time together, fit in your workout, and help you demonstrate healthy habits.
Excuse #10: I don’t like to work out around the opposite sex.
If the opposite sex makes you self-conscience to break a sweat, find ways to overcome your fear.
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. So choose your favorite online fitness video, and with the curtains closed, bust out your calorie-burn session.