We always start out with the best intentions: Hit the gym three — no, wait, make that five — days a week, run or walk 3 miles in the mornings before work, take that killer spin class on your lunch hour. You know the drill. But, if you are like most people, you might set the bar so high that you end up giving up on a regular exercise plan. Whether it’s being too sore to move from a killer bootcamp session or running out of time in your busy day to squeeze in a strength session, there are a million reasons to skip your workout.
Instead of looking at your routine as an all-or-nothing proposition, maybe it’s time to give your exercise program a makeover to better fit your current needs, schedule and preferences. You may find it much easier to stick with and might even find you start to look forward to your workout time (yes, it’s possible!).
Here are five common exercise excuses and the best ways to beat them:
- I don’t have 45–60 minutes a day to work out.
Solution: “I have no time to exercise.” This is the No. 1 excuse I hear. For some reason, we’ve got it in our heads that if our workout isn’t 45–60 minutes long, it’s not worthwhile. The truth is shorter workouts can be just as effective — and are often more effective — than a longer session. I’ve seen countless people go to the gym for an hour or more, but the actual time they spend exercising is probably 20 minutes or less.
Here’s the thing: If you have a plan and stay focused, you can get a great workout in 10 minutes and sometimes less. You also can do several 10-minute sessions throughout the day.
Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, your time at the gym won’t do much for your health or your waistline if you sit the rest of the day. So in addition to concentrating during your actual exercise time, stay on your feet and move as much as possible during your remaining waking hours.
Start off with a plan to fit in three 10-minute sessions a week. That’s such a manageable goal and, once you get that down, you’ll most likely feel motivated and inspired to do a little more. Gradually build up your exercise as your schedule allows and keep your workout time for just that — working out.
- I’m too tired/sore/exhausted to exercise.
Solution: This is actually a really valid excuse. But rather than continuing to blow off your workouts forever because of it, it’s important to address why you are so tired, sore or exhausted all the time. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, then focus on that first. People are always shocked when I recommend sleep over exercise, but the truth is it’s more important to your health and is crucial to having a good workout. Without enough sleep, you aren’t going to get very far.
If you are too sore from a previous workout to walk (or sit down), then it’s understandable you aren’t going to be able to complete another workout. This level of soreness, in my opinion, means you are doing too much, too quickly. Some degree of muscle soreness is normal when you are adjusting to a new exercise program, but when it gets to the point where you are limping, that’s not going to do you any good. If your workouts leave you on the couch for the rest of your day (or week), you’ll probably end up burning fewer calories and feeling worse than before you did that over-the-top fitness session in the first place.
Be sure to progress your workouts gradually. Master the basics before you add more complicated moves, heavy weights, etc. If you aren’t sure how best to do this, consider hiring a certified personal trainer who can create a customized program for you based on your needs and preferences.
And finally, if you are too exhausted, exercise may be just what you need. Stress can wipe out your energy fast, but a gentle workout is a wonderful way to recharge your body and release tension and anxiety. Ask your body what it needs. Some like to blow off steam with a good boxing session, while others may do better with some gentle yoga. Channel your energy into movement for an instant energy burst and stress relief.
- I only have 20 minutes to exercise during my lunch break, so what’s the point?
Solution: While fitting in shorter workouts can help (see solution 1), it’s also important to note that just because you don’t break a sweat, it doesn’t mean you aren’t getting a beneficial workout. If your lunch break is your only window of time to move, make it count! Whether it’s simply a moderate 20-minute walk outdoors or a 15-minute standing Pilates session, something is always better than nothing.
If your lunch hour really is the only time you have to exercise, consider getting your employer involved. Many workplaces encourage employees to exercise regularly; your office may even offer special benefits for it. Talk to your co-workers and boss about scheduling group activities, such as team sports or group exercise classes. I know several people who work out to my exercise videos on their lunch hour in a conference room.
Get creative, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There may be many others in your office wishing for the same opportunity. Midday exercise is an excellent way to boost your energy level, stay healthy and keep your brain sharp — all of which can improve your productivity, so it’s a win-win for everybody.
- I can’t afford a gym membership or expensive fitness classes.
Solution: Gym memberships and boutique classes can get pricey, but there are so many other ways to stay in shape that this isn’t an excuse to skip exercise. Walking or jogging outdoors is free, and many parks even offer gym-style equipment that’s also free. Need a specific plan to follow? Check out MyFitnessPal’s free workout plans, programs and fitness plans!
Want a personal trainer, but shy away from the cost? Research certified professionals who offer team or group training sessions. Splitting the fee with several other people can help reduce your bill but still offer you semiprivate instruction and attention from a trainer. Love fitness classes? Check out online subscription services, apps or exercise DVDs. While they are still an investment, most are cheaper than a monthly gym fee or class pass.
- I’m just not motivated to move.
Solution: I get it. The treadmill can be dreadful (I hate it, too!). The good news is there are countless options out there when it comes to fitness, so spend some time finding what works for you. No one wakes up one day and says out of the blue, “I just can’t wait to go to the gym today!” It happens over time. Developing a fitness habit isn’t easy, but it can be much easier if you can find something that you look forward to doing regularly.
Think beyond the gym walls to discover what you enjoy. If you’ve always loved dancing, for instance, check out a local Zumba class. Love the water? Check out stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking. Love spending time in nature? Try hiking or cycling outdoors.
Whatever your exercise excuse has been in the past, it’s time to get real and figure out the best way to overcome your obstacles. Let go of the idea that if you don’t follow a serious schedule of regular weightlifting, running and yoga that you’ll never get in shape. Start small, start simple. Do something every day to get your body moving. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that real results take time. Stay consistent, and do what you can with what you have every day.
And, if you need some extra help finding your perfect fit program, please check out my “Walk STRONG: 6-Week Total Transformation System.” This all-new, low-impact program has everything you need to succeed, including online support and accountability. Save 20% when you use the exclusive MyFitnessPal promo code “3Z74EZAT” at checkout on Amazon.com.
Tell me, what’s your biggest excuse or obstacle for not sticking with a regular workout plan? How do you overcome it? Share it with us in the comments below!