5 Excuses for Not Working Out—And How To Beat Them

You don’t need a reminder about the infinite benefits of daily exercise. And we all know you had every intention of working out yesterday, you really did! But you know what they say about good intentions: the road to watching reality TV on the couch is paved with ’em. (Trust me; I can see the good intentions ground into my living room rug.)

Here’s are 5 common excuses for not exercising, as well as some suggestions for overcoming them. Consider it encouragement from one workout-dodger to another.

1. I don’t have time.

The top excuse by far. Maybe you’re juggling a job, kiddos, responsibilities at home, etc, etc, etc. Or maybe, like me, you’re just a procrastinator who finds a million other things to do before finally getting down to the bitter end of your to-do list, where “zumba class” is written in suspiciously small letters.

workout-excuses

Either way, working out does take time. But it doesn’t have to be a 60-minute chunk of your day:

  • You’ve heard it before, and it’s true: every little bit counts. Walk the stairs of your building during a break. Take 5 minutes before bed to do lunges.
  • Multitask. It’s perfectly fair to power-walk while you make that long overdue phone call to your mom.
  • Household tasks absolutely count as working out, as long as your heart rate is up. Mowing the yard burns about 150 calories per half-hour.

2. Working out is sweaty and painful.

There are days when you have so much energy you could hit the boxing ring with Laila Ali. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

But on the other 6 days a week, maybe working out just seems like, well…WORK. And work is gross. You’ve already showered and you’re not into re-drying your hair. You don’t want to aggravate an old injury. You know you’ll be miserably sore tomorrow if you do those lunges you’ve been putting off.

Keep in mind…

  • Low-impact exercises can still build muscle and endurance. If you vary your cardio and strength training, not every workout has to be a sweat-a-thon.
  • Soreness does not necessarily equal a great workout. Check out this nerdy study on the subject.
  • Invest in some cute gear either as a reward or a motivator. Bribe yourself with Lululemon or a fancy running watch. Whatever it takes, right?

3. The gym is intimidating.

I couldn’t agree more. Just trying to figure out the proper etiquette for borrowing and returning a towel makes me break into a sweat. I’m 100% certain that everyone in the room is snickering as I maim myself on the lowest setting of the thigh press machine, so I give up and waste all my time futzing with free weights because at least I know how those work, amen?

Gymtimidation is actually a documented phobia. And together, we can prevent it:

  • Strength in numbers. Enlist a friend to brave the gym with you.
  • Sign up for a monthly session with a personal trainer. She’ll have you feeling like an expert in no time. See The Three C’s of Choosing a Personal Trainer for more information on choosing the best trainer for you.
  • Skip the gym altogether! Caroline has a whole database of exercises, many of which can be done at home or outside. Don’t lose sight of the fact that exercise does not need to take place in a gym — moving is moving.

4. I don’t have the equipment/money/space to work out.

Your health is an investment, but it doesn’t have to make you broke. You wouldn’t know that, though, from watching the infomercials for all the medieval torture devices exercise machines out there.

Bowflex Upper Cut
In truth, you don’t need all that fancy stuff to be fit. Consider…

  • Two $30 purchases will quadruple the exercises you can do at home: an exercise mat and resistance bands.
  • The new subscription video service DailyBurn (and others) gives you the experience of an exercise class at a much lower cost. Amazon Prime also has a great collection of exercise videos to choose from.
  • Did I mention Caroline has tips for working out at home? No gym membership or videos required.

5. Working out is boooo-ring.

If you find the idea of running 5 miles by yourself about as exciting as Nick V on this season of The Bachelorette, you’re not alone.

But this excuse is easy to beat. If we 21st-century technophiles can waste hours mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest, we can certainly keep ourselves entertained for a 40-minute workout!

  • Sports are exercise too! Did you know playing dodgeball for 25 minutes can burn between 75 and 150 calories?
  • Get thee some tunes! (Here’s a good playlist.) Or some scintillating podcasts, or a bestselling audiobook.
  • Set a goal to work toward. You’ll stay more engaged in today’s lap swim if you know you’re training for a mini-triathlon in the fall.
  • Try something new. So over yoga? Consider Pilates. Spun and done? Sign up for barre. There are no bonus points for loyalty in the exercise world.

Bottom line: Doing something—anything!—is better than nothing.

Consider this: If you do 5 push-ups and 5 sit-ups and walk for just 5 minutes a day, then over the course of a year you’ll burn enough calories to lose 2 pounds for each activity.

I think we can all make room on our to-do lists for that.


Emma’s workout of choice is a long run, accompanied by a good episode of “This American Life.” She loves reading, traveling, watching other people play sports, and spending time with friends and family. She currently lives in Paris with her husband and blogs about their European adventures at finleysinfrance.com.

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