Top 6 Exercise Excuses and How to Beat Them

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By Karen Springen
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

You know you should be exercising. You also know that physically active people are healthier. They’re less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. They sleep better, feel happier, and have more energy. Of course, a fit body looks great, too. So what’s keeping you from working out? Whether it’s too little time, not enough energy, or just hating to exercise, we have an answer for every excuse in the book. Get ready to get motivated.

Exercise Excuse No. 1: “I Don’t Have Time.”

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

During your shows, use resistance bands or walk in place. Or use Tivo so you can skip the commercials and see a one-hour show later in just 40 minutes, says James Hill, PhD, co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry: “That’s 20 minutes right there.” Better yet, turn off the TV and spend your newfound time working out.

If it’s work that’s sapping all your spare time, try exercising on the job. Close your office door and jump rope for 10 minutes, or walk in place, Thompson suggests.

Your exercise doesn’t have to be a formal workout either. Try making small lifestyle changes that help you move more: take the stairs instead of the escalator, don’t drive when you can walk, and get a pedometer and try to increase the number of steps you take throughout the day.

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, which may sound daunting but actually works out to a little over 20 minutes each day. The good news is that three 10-minute exercise sessions work just about as well as one 30-minute one and can be much easier to fit into your schedule.

People who exercise regularly “make it a habit,” says Hill, who is director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado, Denver. “They haven’t bought any more time during the day than anyone else. What we’ve done is prioritize it. We find time for things we value.”

Exercise Excuse No. 2: “I’m Too Tired.”

It may sound counterintuitive, but working out actually gives you more energy, says Marisa Brunett, a certified athletic trainer in Orlando, Fla. Once you get moving, your fatigue will likely disappear.

“You’re getting the endorphins [feel-good hormones in your body] to release,” says Brunett. “And you’re getting the circulation going — as opposed to coming home and crashing on the couch.”

It may help to work out in the morning before you get wiped out by a demanding workday, says kinesiologist Lynette Craft, PhD, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University.

But if you’re just not a morning person, don’t worry. Brunett, who likes to work out in the middle or at the end of the day herself, recommends doing it whenever you feel best.

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About the author

Lauren Wilson. Lauren introduced Paleo into her lifestyle in 2010. She enjoys re-creating otherwise unhealthy meals and spreading the word about how easy (and delicious!) it is to eat well. Don't be surprised if she has chorizo or Sriracha included in her recipes. She's also got a major sweet tooth.

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