Whether it was a New Year’s resolution, a promise to your doctor or a promise to yourself, you had a plan to start exercising more. Maybe you bought some new workout clothes, finally got that gym membership and even wrote it into your schedule. Before you know it, months have passed, and you haven’t even broken a sweat. What happened? You likely fell victim to one (or more) of the most common excuses for not exercising.
Know When to Push
Excuse: I’m too busy.
Bonus: if your hectic schedule is wearing you down, exercise will also help relieve stress!
Excuse Buster: If you make regular exercise a priority, then there is no “too busy!” Take a look at how you’re spending each and every moment of your day. Instead of that extra hour of TV before bed, go to sleep early so you can wake up in time to hit the gym before work. Simplify your evening routine to carve out some extra time. You may have to make sacrifices, but if it matters to you, you’ll find a way. There are plenty of exercises you can do with even ten extra minutes at home!
Excuse: It’s boring.
Excuse Buster: So make it interesting. If running on a treadmill doesn’t give you much of a thrill, then take a workout class or learn a new skill like kickboxing or martial arts. Workouts come in all shapes and sizes, so keep trying until you find one that excites you.
Another great way to kick boredom’s butt? Grab a workout buddy to train with! Research has shown that whether you work out with your BFF Cindi or a in a group fitness setting will help keep you motivated and make your workout seem more like a chore.
The friends that sweat together...stick together? Get fit together? I can't think of anything good that rhymes with sweat. But that's not important; look how happy they are!
Excuse: I’m too out-of-shape.
Excuse Buster: Start slow. Nobody walks into a gym after years of exercise avoidance and walks out three hours later with a fit new body. It takes time for your muscles to build up strength again, and your heart may struggle to keep up at first. If your current fitness level is zero, then start by taking daily walks or doing some light cardio. As you build up stamina, it’ll get easier.
Another tip: when you first get back into exercising, measure your success in terms of workouts completed. Instead of having the goal to lose 20 pounds or drop a dress size in two months, say, “I will work out three days a week, every week, for two months.” Setting goals you can readily meet is a fantastic confidence-booster, and when you do move on to larger ones, you’ll already have set a precedent of meeting your goals!
Excuse: I’m afraid of being judged by others.
Excuse Buster: You know all those feelings of insecurity you have when you walk into a gym? Every other person in that gym is fighting that same battle. Push negative thoughts aside by praising yourself for small victories and focusing on what’s next. You chose a class to attend? That’s awesome! You actually drove to the gym? You’re doing great! Take it one step at a time.
If you’re really struggling with this, again, a friend can help. Take someone with you and let them distract you from your anxious thoughts so you can stay focused on the workout.
Excuse: I’m tired.
WAKEY WAKEY SUNSHINE THOSE BICEPS AREN'T GONNA GET GROW THEMSELVES!
Excuse Buster: You might be feeling tired because you’re not exercising enough! It seems like a Catch-22, but it’s really not that complicated. Exercise doesn’t take energy away; it ignites it. If you’re able to push yourself off the couch and get moving, you’ll start feeling better in minutes. If you think you’re too tired to exercise, remind yourself that the fatigue after a workout is more exhilarating than exhausting.
If you’re still yawning, try this trick before you skip your workout: put on your workout clothes. Then decide again if you’re still too tired. If the answer is yes, go outside and do a couple jumping jacks. Still too tired? Drive to the gym. Go inside. If you’re still too tired at this point, you can skip.
Three Legit Reasons for Skipping a Workout:
As good as physical activity is for your body, there are legitimate reasons for not exercising. No one is indestructible, no matter how strong you are. There’s a big difference between an excuse and a valid reason.
Reason: You’re sick.
Why it’s legit: Are you fighting a fever or coughing up a lung? Stay in bed. A common cold can become a respiratory infection overnight if you don’t give yourself proper time to recuperate. Not to mention, a contagious illness can quickly make its way through a gym or group fitness class if you start spreading germs. Showing up for your workout snotty and sniffling is not only bad for you, it’s plain rude.
Reason: You have a serious injury.
Knee injuries are a pain in the... knee.
Why it’s legit: When a doctor tells you to take it easy, listen. A broken rib or a concussion is not something to take lightly, and you can do permanent damage to your body if you push yourself too hard. Likewise, if your doctor tells you some light exercise is okay, then definitely do it. Just make sure you monitor your condition, so you know when to dial it back.
If you have an injury that hasn’t required you to visit the doctor (say, a pulled hamstring), use common sense. In the case of the damaged hamstring, you should reconsider your planned workout of heavy squats, deep stretches and sprinting. Just be attuned to your body, and know when the pain your feeling is “good” (from rigorous, healthy exercise) and when it’s “bad” (from injury). If you have an injury you can’t seem to shake…it’s probably time to see a doctor.
Reason: Your body is still recovering from your last workout.
This guy probably deserves a day or two off.
Why it’s legit: If you just ran a marathon, pat yourself on the back because that’s fantastic! However, before you get in your car and head back to the gym, make sure you’ve recovered fully from that intense bout of exertion. As good as exercise is for you, it’s possible to overdo it.
It’s important to listen to your body and know the warning signs of excess strain. At the same time, don’t let common excuses for not exercising stop you from doing what you know is good for you!