Top 6 Exercise Excuses and How to Beat Them

How to stop making excuses and start getting fit.

From the WebMD Archives

What’s keeping you from working out? Whether it’s too little time, not enough energy, or just hating to exercise, there's a solution. Get ready to get motivated.

Exercise Excuse No. 1: 'I Don't Have Time.'

"How much television do you watch?" asks Walter Thompson, PhD, professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University.

During your shows, use resistance bands for strength training, or walk in place. You could also record your shows and watch them later, skipping the ads; use that time to exercise.

If you don't have a long stretch of time, you could break up your workout into shorter sessions. Some activity is better than none. "We find time for things we value," says James Hill, PhD, co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry.

Exercise Excuse No. 2: 'I'm Too Tired.'

Working out actually gives you more energy. Your body makes feel-good hormones (endorphins), "and you're getting the circulation going," says Marisa Brunett, a certified athletic trainer in Orlando, Fla.

It may help to work out in the morning before your day gets away from you, says kinesiologist Lynette Craft, PhD. She's an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University.

Not a morning person? No problem. Do it whenever you feel best, says Brunett, who likes to work out in the middle or at the end of the day.

Exercise Excuse No. 3: 'I Don't Get a Break From the Kids.'

"Take the kids with you," Hill says. While they're playing, you can walk around the playground, or jump rope nearby. During their games or sports practices, walk briskly around the field.

Go biking with your kids, put up a badminton net in your yard, sign up as a family for "fun runs," or just walk around the neighborhood with your children. When the weather's bad, try active video games like "Dance Dance Revolution," "Wii Sport," and "Wii Fit."

"When mom or dad is more fit, has more energy, the whole family benefits,” says psychologist Christina Recascino, PhD.

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Exercise Excuse No. 4: 'Exercise Is Boring.'

Find an activity you love. Try inline skating, dancing, or gardening. Join a sports league. Or go dancing. "There's an exercise for everyone," Recascino says. "It doesn't have to be onerous or unpleasant."

If it makes exercise more enjoyable for you, it's OK to watch TV or read while you're on the exercise bike or treadmill, as long as your workout is still challenging.

Get some friends to go with you, or join a group. And every once in a while, try something totally new. “Mix it up so you don't get bored,” Brunett says.

Exercise Excuse No. 5: 'I Just Don't Like to Move.'

First, figure out why.

Is it that you don't like getting sweaty? You can work out indoors where it's air conditioned. You can swim so you won't notice any perspiration. Or try a low-sweat activity, like gentle types of yoga.

Is it hard on your joints? Head for the pool. Exercising in water is easier on your joints.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.

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.

Exercise Excuse No. 6: 'I've Tried Before.'

Set goals that are small and realistic. Then you're more likely to feel like a success, not a failure, Brunett says.

It also helps to keep a log and post it somewhere public -- even on Facebook. Craft calls it a "wall of encouragement." Friends and family can then say, "Hey, you did 15 minutes yesterday. Great job," she says. A log also helps you see if you're starting to fall off the wagon (or the treadmill).

Having an exercise buddy keeps you accountable as well, says Boston psychologist Eric Endlich, PhD. You may be more likely to show up for your workout if you know someone is expecting you to be there.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on April 11, 2012

Sources

SOURCES:

Marshall, L. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, May 2009.

Bravata, D. The Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 21, 2007.

Schmidt, W. J. American College of Nutrition, October 2001.

Atlantis, E. International Journal of Obesity, February 2008.

Office of the Surgeon General: "Overweight and Obesity. What You Can Do."

WebMD Medical Reference: "Exercise and Depression."

Marisa Brunett, certified athletic trainer; spokeswoman, National Athletic Trainers Association, Orlando, Fla.

Lynette Craft, PhD, kinesiologist; assistant professor of preventive medicine, Northwestern University.

David Coppel, PhD, clinical psychologist; Kirkland, Wash.

Eric Endlich, PhD, psychologist, Boston.

Gerard Endress, fitness director, Duke Diet & Fitness Center; clinical exercise physiologist, Duke University, Durham, N.C.

James Hill, PhD, co-founder, National Weight Control Registry; director, Center for Human Nutrition, University of Colorado, Denver.

Peter Nierman, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry, University of Chicago.

Christina Recascino, PhD, psychologist; professor, human factors department, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. 

Walter Thompson, PhD, kinesiologist; professor of kinesiology and health, Georgia State University, Atlanta.

© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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