The top 10 excuses for not exercising and how to overcome them

Ever wondered how you can get rid of that niggling voice in your head?

28 August 2020

5 min read

Most of us know the important benefits of exercising on a regular basis, as not only is it great physically but also mentally. The NHS states ‘do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week’. For some, this is easily achieved but others not so much. We know how good exercising regularly is for us, but why can it be so difficult? 

In the years 2018/19, public health England estimated that 21.4% of adults aged 19 years and over were physically inactive. They deem that someone is physically inactive when they engage in less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week. Although we may be doing more than 30 minutes of exercise a week sometimes it can be tough to achieve 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity. 

Despite our best intentions it can be hard to stick to a workout plan. It is easy to come up with excuses not to exercise and can be hard to motivate yourself at times. During the lockdown, it can be hard to push through a workout, especially when the weather is so nice and energy levels can be pretty low. Below are my top 10 excuses for not exercising and solutions on how to overcome them. They can hopefully be used to help inspire during the lockdown and afterwards.

“I hate exercising”

Not everyone enjoys exercising in the same way. If sweating in a gym sounds more like a punishment to you, then you are probably not alone. It's important to find things that you enjoy. Now can be an ideal time to try different activities while gyms are closed.

If you haven't found your activity yet take some time to try new things and find out what exercise you enjoy. If you don't like the gym, maybe you would like classes or taking up a new sport. I know we are a little limited at the moment due to the pandemic, but see this as an opportunity to find something that you do enjoy. You could try tennis, golf or even simpler, a nice walk or bike ride. There are so many options. Remember that everyone is different and will like different things. 


“I am too busy studying / working / full time parent”

Being busy can be stressful, we all have a lot on our plate and it can be hard to fit in exercise. But for an effective workout, you don't need to exercise for hours. A 20-30 min session can be just as effective. Instead of trying to find time to work out, try to think: how can I make time. Any activity is better than none. Even the busiest of people find time to do activities that are important, so it's about making exercise a priority. Try booking some time in your schedule to break from revision, meetings and daily life. How much television do you watch or how long are you on social media for? Why not set yourself a goal to not watch tv or go on social media until you have done your workout? Or workout whilst you watch tv by using a resistance band or small dumbbells? The adverts are pretty boring so why not get moving. As a parent, I’m sure you feel like you don't have time to relax let alone find time to workout. If you have young children why not put them in a pushchair and go for a walk. If you have older children, encourage them to work out with you. 


“I am too tired”

I know when you are tired there is nothing more you want to do than relax. However, exercising actually reduces fatigue and can boost energy levels. By completing regular exercise you will feel a lot more energised. On days you feel less energy you could go for a walk or try some yoga. Exercise when you feel most energised during the day, this can help. Do you prefer to workout in the morning before your busy day starts? If so, can you wake up 30 minutes earlier? If not after work or in the evening? It can be a great distraction from everyday stresses and make you feel good if you have had a tiring and busy day.


“it's too difficult or painful”

‘no pain, no gain’ this isn't always entirely true. Exercise shouldn't be painful at all. There is a difference between physical pain and body fatigue. You don’t have to push yourself until you are drenched with sweat or so that every muscle in your body aches after each workout. Exercise can be difficult to start off with, it takes time and lots of practice to get the technique spot on. Try to work as hard as you personally can, and try not to compare yourself to others as everyone is different. Take breaks when you need to, and go at your own pace. It won't always be so difficult and by pushing through the mental barrier that exercise is too hard, will really help you to achieve your goal.


“I have an injury”

This excuse can be a little more complicated and you will have to approach exercise with some caution. You can't obviously ignore this injury but in most cases, there are many things that you can still do to keep moving. Adapting your workout to exercises that you can do and avoiding exercises that you can’t. Depending on the type of injury, by still exercising you may help with mobility and help strengthen the muscles around to help support. You should always speak to a medical professional if you have concerns or your injury is not getting better.


“I am too old”

We are all probably aware of the saying “age is nothing but a number”, and I believe this is also true with exercise. You are never too old to exercise. Depending on age, mobility and health you may have to get some advice from a doctor or expert. But you can still do something to keep active. These could vary from low impact exercises to mobility or even strength training. There are so many great benefits to keep exercising such as it can help with muscle loss, decreases the risk of falls and improves mental health.


“It's too expensive”

Exercise doesn't need to be expensive and I think lockdown has proven this point. You don’t need to join the most expensive gyms or buy the state of the art equipment to have a good workout. Why not try one of our free live classes on facebook? There are also so many great workouts that we have from previous classes we have taught or workout suggestions for free:

You can use household items instead of weights ( or focus on bodyweight exercises. They can be just as effective and challenging.


“I am too inactive / embarrassed to exercise”

When something is uncomfortable or not what we are used to we tend to avoid it. If you are inactive, you could be very self-conscious and maybe even compare yourself to others. A lot of us can relate and may have felt this way before. Don't forget we have all started from somewhere and start small. The gym can be an intimidating place, but you do not need to go to the gym to get a great workout. Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable during your sessions. You can do a variety of things to keep active such as going for a walk with a family member in your household, or doing a home workout. You could also try one of our free workouts (see home workout link above) in the comfort of your own home. You can go at your own pace and get used to the movement and exercises to hopefully help build confidence.


“I am too stressed”

Exercise is a great way to take your mind off things. For me personally exercise and sleep is the only way I can take my mind off of the stresses of day to day life. When you exercise your body releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) which makes you feel better. What better way to get rid of stress than to have a tough workout, that takes your mind off things and makes you feel good. If however, you really aren't in the mood for an intense session. Step away from the stressful situation and go for a walk to help clear the mind.


“I'm already thin”

If you are thin already it is still important to think about your health. Not all exercise is about losing weight, there are so many other great benefits from working out. We are all so focused on what we look like on the outside, not what is on the inside so is important to keep this in mind. You can still have a high body fat percentage and you should still be considerate of your diet. Exercising regularly is great for your cardiovascular system and will make you feel a lot more energised.

Hopefully, the list of excuses and how to combat these have given you a little motivation. Try to set realistic goals that you can achieve and feel great about when you do achieve them. Have a think, is there something that you have always wanted to achieve but haven’t had a chance before? This could be anything from running 5k to completing a certain amount of press ups. What a better way to focus on them during lockdown. You can do it, no more excuses!