Personal Wellness

Top Excuses For Not Exercising … and How to Overcome Them?

Jul 27, 2017
Last Updated Jun 1, 2023

There are often two camps when it comes to exercise – those who love it and work out all the time, and those who have the top excuses for not exercising and will avoid it at any cost. But then there’s the middle ground, where many of us are most comfortable.

We’re the ones that know how great keeping fit is for our body, that it does wonders for our mind and that it can give us a healthier social life, too. Yet there’s always something more pressing to be done first…

Most of us have heard, or used, an excuse why we can’t exercise that day. Some of the most outlandish excuses for not exercising that clients have told to their personal instructors include cutting their finger, not wanting to mess up the massage they had the day before, and “I recently died”.

The client hadn’t, by the way. They were very much alive when they sent the text.

Most of us know deep down that could probably all do with a little more exercise, but … well, it can wait for another day can’t it?

Here are the most common excuses why you probably won’t head to the gym to workout today.

1 I don’t have the time

How many times have you said this? Sometimes it’s a perfectly reasonable excuse – we’re all busy doing other things, after all.

The counter-argument

The thing about exercise is that you have to make time for it. Make it as much a part of your day as brushing your teeth.

There are a few ways you can make time in your day for exercise, and you’ll often find that there’s more time than you think. Try the odd quick workout and build it into your week at regular intervals.

If can’t manage a high-intensity session such as a short run or a cycle ride, you could take a 20-minute walk in the park. Those 20 minutes could burn up to 100 calories, according to researchers from the University of Cambridge – reducing your chances of premature death from inactivity.

The key is taking steps to manage your time better. You could try creating to-do lists on your mobile – usually you’ll find that you have gaps in your day when you could squeeze in a quick run!

2 I’m too tired

It can be hard to find the motivation for anything other than taking the weight off after a hard day at work. The “I’m too tired” excuse is all too common.

The counter-argument

Just one of the many physical benefits of exercise is that it improves your heart and lungs by delivering oxygen and nutrients to your tissues – making your cardiovascular system work better.

The result is, more energy to face the daily grind. So when you’re too tired for exercise, it’s worth making that extra effort to get back on your feet and take a walk or run. You’ll feel so much more energised and ready for anything afterwards.

3 I don’t want to be seen sweating in the gym

Not many people really like to be seen sweating in the gym – unless you have one of those toned bodies that just need to shown off in public. Don’t let your pride dictate your life with the excuse that you don’t want to be seen until you’ve lost at least a few pounds.

Fight chronic diseases and overcome sedentary lisfestyle

The counter-argument

Most of us are shy about getting out and getting fit. It’s worth remembering that all but a few people have hang-ups, and not many can maintain that “Hollywood style” while they’re working out.

So before you use the old “I want to get in shape first” excuse, try roping in a friend to keep you company, or even getting a team together so you can workout as a group.

There’s safety in numbers, and you may even make some new friends. When there’s another person alongside you, it’s the ultimate motivator when you’re trying to think up an excuse for not exercising.

4 It’s too hard

Exercise doesn’t have to feel like punishment, but it can be off-putting when you know that taking that hike, or bike ride could really burn.

The counter-argument

If a workout is too hard for you, cut down the time you’re out running. Or try a walk-run, where you only run at intervals. There are lots of ways to modify your exercise regime – there’s no shame in it.

5 I’ll start next week

Procrastination is a common excuse for not exercising. You may have every intention of keeping fit – in the future.

The counter-argument

This is a difficult excuse to overcome. You already know how good exercise is for you, and you’re raring to go – tomorrow, maybe.

The most effective way to counter this is to schedule your exercise and set achievable goals. Once you can see your workout schedule on your calendar or on your mobile, with targets to achieve (and it’s OK to reward yourself when you hit your target), you’re less likely keep pushing your exercise regime back.

Exercising can be fun!

It’s all too easy to find an excuse not to exercise. It’s important to remember that if you’re not looking forward to exercising then your mind will try all sorts of tricks to prevent you getting that workout.

To get your brain on-board, try to be creative about the exercise you take. You could learn a new skill with a dance class, or try a team sport and get competitive. The trick is to make it fun.

It’s also worth remembering all the great things you stand to gain (or lose, such as that extra pound) by scheduling in a fitness session.

  • Get happy
    You know you’ll feel great afterwards, aching limbs aside. When you exercise, your brain releases “feel-good” chemicals that make you feel more positive, and it can help improve negative thinking, too.
  • Energy boost anyone?

    Who couldn’t use the odd adrenaline shot every once a while? When you’re flagging but can’t afford to come to a full-stop, exercise can be the boost you need to keep going.

  • Trouble sleeping?
    Finally get the good night’s sleep you need. When you exercise regularly, it can help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of the sleep you have. Don’t exercise too close to bedtime though, it could give you too much of an energy kick!

What’s your excuse for not exercising? Too busy reading this article? Now that one really won’t wash!

Find out how you can incorporate more exercise into your day through a subsidised gym membership scheme with Wellhub. Get your company signed up and you and your colleagues can visit any gym in your local area, at any time – no more excuses!




Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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