Written by: Wallace Merriman

17 Excuses Why You Skip Exercise and How To Change The Mindset
Posted on:May 28, 2016

What is your top excuse for why you skip exercise? Be honest and tell us. We recently asked this question to our Facebook community and we received more than 800 responses. WOW. We hit a nerve with all of you and you spilled your guts. (We appreciate your candor.) Many of you face the same obstacles and shared similar responses. No surprise that “a lack of time” showed up a lot. I read every comment and made note of the most popular responses. I even got a chuckle at some of the funnier excuses like, “I already showered.”  (That’s pretty good.) So, let me offer solutions to your workout challenges.

EXCUSE # 1: Lack of motivation, lack of drive.

SOLUTIONS: Yep, this excuse even beat out: “I don’t have time.” No surprise to us.  We know that starting is the hardest part. Play detective for a moment. What WOULD motivate you to exercise?  We all find different things motivating. Some women workout to do what they can to stay healthy, while others workout so they can rock a pair of jeans. It doesn’t matter if you decide to work out because of an upcoming high school reunion or to be a good example for your kids … all that matters is finding the reason that sparks a fire under your butt.


Throughout my career as a trainer and fitness instructor, there have been many days that I didn’t want to teach a class. But I have to show up, it’s my job. Once I get there, get the music playing and turn on my microphone, I’m there. I’m in the right enviroment to get myself and all my students going. Taking care of yourself is your job too. So I encourage you to approach exercise the way you approach your job. Getting yourself there—to your health club or your favorite walking path—is half the battle.

Go on a search mission for the reason to exercise that ignites your drive. Maybe it’s “I feel better about me when I exercise,” or “I really want to work on losing ten pounds.” If finding your reason for working out still doesn’t get you exercising, fake it til you make it. Remember, starting is the hardest part. I can’t tell you how many people have told me their lives changed as soon as they started exercising regularly and now they can’t live without exercise. Lack of motivation leads to more lack, exercise leads to more exercise. So just make yourself start—even if you don’t want to. Honoring a promise you make to yourself to exercise will make you feel like a champion.

EXCUSE # 2:  No time.

SOLUTIONS: Since my kids were babies, I have scheduled my workouts like I schedule an appointment. It’s inked on my calendar. My kids got the message: Mom values exercise. They tagged along to the gym with me happily and sometimes, not so happily. Don’t view exercise as just another demand on your time. View exercise as an investment in your health. It’s your time to give yourself what you need.

For those of you who wrote in saying you work from dawn to dusk and then you have to feed your family, or a long commute eats up your workout time, can you walk at lunch? Do a ten-minute workout at home before or after work? Take a family walk? Try my plank challenge? Buy a treadmill for your house to use when you watch TV? I put up short workout videos weekly on my website. When you have a challenging schedule, it’s good to have flexible thinking and a positive attitude. Look at your week ahead of time and see if you can schedule in some exercise. Any movement is better than no movement.

EXCUSE # 3: Takes too long to see results.

SOLUTIONS: The longer you wait to begin exercise, the longer it will take you to see any results. If you want instant gratification, switch your focus. Focus on what you can do today. The unsexy, unglamorous truth is this: Results happen after consistency of effort. Try to curb your desire to run to the mirror for proof of results after a workout and put more of your focus on what action you can take today. You can have the results you want if you put in the daily effort. Giving up on workouts and skipping will ensure you don’t see results.

To keep consistent, follow my two-day rule. Don’t take of more than two days of exercise in a row. The longer you slack off, the easier it becomes to quit altogether.

Maybe you are the type of person who gets fired up from setting a goal. Set a short-term goal and write it down. Maybe you want to lose ten pounds in three months. Or be able to run a 5k in two months. Set your goal and post it where you will see it every day.

Another way to satisfy that need for instant results is to keep an exercise log. Jot down when you exercise and what you do. Circle days on a calendar or keep record on your iPhone—whatever gives you that instant sense of reward. You can even buy yourself some gold stars.

 EXCUSE # 4: Too tired, no energy.

SOLUTIONS: You know you should exercise, but some days it’s just plain tough to get moving. You’re almost always too tired, and you don’t know where you will find the energy. Well, you know what I am going to say here, right? You are too tired because you don’t exercise. One of the things exercise enthusiasts love the best about exercise is the increased energy it provides.

Try working out early in the a.m. The greatest benefit of morning workouts is this: People do them. There is less likelihood that your day or exhaustion gets in the way of your workout.

Give yourself a little visual motivation to get going. Follow me on Pinterest and check out my Inspiration page.  Once exercise becomes part of who you are, you start using adjectives like: strong, capable, energetic, athlete, fit, dedicated, and committed. Once you see yourself in that light, you don’t want to skip workouts.

EXCUSE # 5: Exercise isn’t fun. Exercise is boring.

SOLUTIONS: If by exercise you mean trudging on a treadmill day in and day out with nothing to think about but how much time you have left before you can stop, then you are absolutely right. That is boring, but it doesn’t have to be. Variety and playfulness are essential to healthy movement. When you were a kid exercise was fun because you didn’t call it exercise. You called it riding bikes, going swimming or climbing trees. What age did we stop having fun with movement? Instead of thinking of exercise as a chore, put activities on your schedule that are joyful for you. Hide-and-seek with your kids, play Frisbee with your family, tennis with your spouse or get a family basketball game going. Make the treadmill fun by listening to an audio book or your favorite playlist.

Some people love exercise and can’t live without it and some people claim to hate it … and there’s a whole range of opinions in the middle. Search for a form of exercise you love. You just may surprise yourself. Maybe you pick a group sport. Join a new gym. Find adult dance classes. Do aerial yoga at a studio, or resistance band training at home. You could surprise yourself with your love of running, or kettlebells. I’m a professed group fitness junkie and can’t get enough of spinning, conditioning classes and bootcamps. So what’s your calling? Perhaps it’s nature, hiking the trails. You’ve just got to keep trying exercise on like hats until you find one that fits … YOU.

EXCUSE # 6: Menopause.

SOLUTIONS: Working out when it’s easy to do so is a no-brainer. Working out when it’s hard, makes you a champion. Exercise can reduce some menopausal symptoms and improve your quality of life. Why not go after those menopause symptoms with the natural remedy of exercise? Exercise can help fight against menopause-related fatigue and the dreaded weight creep. Truly menopause is a whole topic onto its self if you are around my age (49) or older.  Check out my blog on how to deal with menopause.

EXCUSE # 7: I don’t care enough.

SOLUTIONS: Apathy is a tough one to overcome. Are you sure you don’t care? (You did chime in on my Facebook page so you must be following a fitness page for a reason.)

Have you found an exercise you actually enjoy? If not, go on a search to find an exercise you find fun.

Decide if you are a go it alone or pair up person. Many people find that walking with a friend or attending a group fitness class is just the kind of accountability they need to start exercising. If you are better jogging on the trails alone with your own thoughts or great music, do that instead.

Schedule it. Some people who aren’t in love with exercise find scheduling it helpful. You just do it because you know you should and it’s on your schedule. After you get it done, you are so happy you did.

Remind yourself of its benefits. Exercise increases energy, boosts mental clarity, helps you sleep, gives you a greater sense of confidence and puts you in a better mood too.

EXCUSE # 8: Lack of knowing what to do for my body.

SOLUTIONS: My clients always ask me what exercise burns the most calories. My answer is always the same: It’s the exercise you like best.  Okay, so that is oversimplified … but if you are just getting started, keep it simple: If you like it, you will keep doing it. What I enjoy doing and what you enjoy doing might be different and that’s entirely okay. Your job is to discover a form (or two or three) of exercise that you love. I love high intensity interval training in a group setting. I love walking with good friends. I love yoga. We all know it’s easier to do things we love.

Aim for a combination of cardio and strength training because your body needs both types of workouts. Remember, your muscles are use ‘em or lose ‘em.

Mix it up because it’s good for your body and prevents boredom. Doing the exact same thing day in and day out isn’t good for your body or mind. If you don’t feel like taking a walk, can you drop in on a yoga class or do a workout DVD at home? If you can, hire a trainer or do some try some new moves from my Exercise Libraryfor free.

EXCUSE # 9: I’m lazy.

SOLUTIONS: If you deem yourself lazy or if you like lazy, then reward your exercise with some lazy time. Do a workout and then give yourself some permission for early PJ time and a good book. Or lounge around and watch a favorite TV show after you squeeze a workout into your day. Make lazy time your motivation by using it as a reward.

Tap into other awards that motivate you. Do a workout and buy yourself some fresh flowers. Exercise all week? Go get a pedicure or take a long bubble bath. If it’s not illegal or fattening, go for it.

EXCUSE # 10: I’m too big.

SOLUTIONS: I heard from several of you that you are too embarrassed to work out because people might see you in the gym, laugh at you or notice that you’ve gained a lot of weight lately. Some people are afraid to join a gym or go to the gym because they think they will be the only overweight person there. I have been teaching group fitness for years and I can tell you that you will always find people of all shapes, sizes and ages. Most gym-goers are too focused on their own bodies to pay attention to yours.

Don’t take your own self-criticism and project it on to other people. Remember other people at the gym have had their own struggles with weight.

Give yourself some credit for making a healthy choice and let go of what others might think. Haters are gonna hate, but guess what? That has everything to do with who they are and nothing to do with who you are. Don’t let anyone else dictate what you do for you.

EXCUSE # 11: I have anxiety and depression.

SOLUTIONS: Depression and anxiety can make you not want to do anything, let alone exercise. Here’s the thing though: Do one quick Google search of “depression and exercise” and you will quickly see how exercise ranks high as one of the top ways to beat depression. The hardest part for you is starting.

Try to use some of the other solutions I offer like scheduling your exercise or grabbing a workout buddy. Depression fuels helplessness and hopelessness. If you can get yourself to start doing a workout, you will see how it helps win out over your depression. Yes, there are varying degrees of depression and anxiety, but there’s one thing I know for sure: Exercise can only help.

EXCUSE # 12: I am scared of injury.

SOLUTIONS: If you are already coming back from an injury or you are afraid of getting an injury, just proceed with caution. It’s always best to check with your doctor first on what you can safely do, but there are many low-impact forms of exercise that you might still be able to do.

A strong body is the best remedy against injury, so don’t view the couch as a safety zone. Find out what you can do.

EXCUSE # 13: There’s too much information out there about exercise and I am overwhelmed.

SOLUTIONS: I hear you. There’s a lot of conflicting information about food and what workouts are best. But that’s all noise. We don’t have to make exercise complicated. Any movement counts. While doing a workout might not show up immediately on your body, every workout is making a difference to your mind and body internally. Rather than get overwhelmed at all the choices of exercise that exist or stuck in the paralysis of analysis, just select something: Walk. Take a spin class. Do a 40-minute workout on a workout DVD. Stretch. Get on the elliptical and walk. Dance. Just try something and the sense of overwhelm will vanish.

EXCUSE # 14: The weather. Change of seasons. Winter.

SOLUTIONS: Well, those are three things that we cannot control. So have some winter workouts ready. Havea DVD you can do without leaving the house. Check out my Exercise Library full of free exercises you can do. I even demonstrate the proper technique of each exercise to make it easy for you. If you love the outdoors but the winter keeps you inside, can you layer up and brave the weather? There’s something exhilarating about braving the temps and coming back to a warm house with rosy cheeks and a good workout done.

EXCUSE # 15: No workout buddy.

SOLUTIONS: I always talk about the importance of accountability partners because they do make a difference. We can’t make silent excuses in our heads that no one sees or hears when we have a friend waiting for us to show up.  So if you don’t have a workout buddy, that’s a tough spot. Did you consider everyone you could ask? Is there someone at your gym? Even if your accountability partner lives in another state, you could report to each other on the workouts you do. (You won’t fib to a friend, right?) Hopefully this person will give you a little nudge on those days when you try to wiggle out of working out.

If those options don’t work for you, can you commit to a group fitness class and you use that group as your accountability? Or use a fitness tracker as your accountability partner.

Music can help you in the accountability department too. Think of exercise as your alone time to zone out with your playlist.

EXCUSE # 16: No childcare.

SOLUTIONS: With kids, especially babies and young kids, we don’t have as much freedom in our schedules. I understand. If you love to jog or go to a group fitness class, it’s a challenge if you don’t have help. First, does your gym have any childcare program? Many gyms do. You can sign your child up and grab an hour workout while your child plays with other kids. If not, can you do a childcare swap with a friend or family member? It’s kind of like a playdate where you take turns workout out and watching each other’s children.

Can you fit in a 10-minute workout during nap time? Or try getting 30 minutes of exercise by breaking up your workout into three 10-minute workouts scattered throughout your day.

There are going to be days when you truly can’t find even ten minutes because you have a sick toddler or a plumbing emergency. That’s okay. The road to health is always under construction. Once in a while you have to stop and park. Just don’t stay there. Make sure you get going and make it happen the next day.

EXCUSE # 17: I already took a shower.

SOLUTIONS: Okay, this is a good one—made me laugh out loud. We’ve all been there. You are having a fab hair day or you just showered the night before and you don’t want to have to go through the whole production of getting ready … AGAIN. Why not try a workout that doesn’t leave you drenched? Not every workout you do has to leave you in a pool of sweat. Take a walk. Do some bodyweight exercises or lift some light weights. Try a yoga workout that’s more stretching-based than sweat-based.

Or just make a decision to move your body more. A vigorous house-cleaning? Chasing your kids? Going up and down your stairs? Count everything that isn’t sitting on your bum time, because it all counts.

You know you should exercise, so counteract those excuses by discovering what motivates you. Use these solutions to switch from excuse to action. Did I leave your excuse out? Share it below and we will find some solutions for you to get exercising and reaping all of the rewards of getting your heart pumping and your body moving!