40 Things to Try When You Don't Want to Work Out


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  247 comments   :  1,637,538 Views

We all have the days where we plan to work out and know that we should, but when it's time to lace up your shoes and go…You. Just. Don't. Wanna.
I have those days, too, but when I remind myself how GOOD exercise makes me feel, and how it will help me reach my goals, I generally suck it up and do it anyway. Getting started really is the hardest part. Once you get going, you're generally glad you did. And when it's over, you feel even better.
But some people have less willpower or dedication. Some give in to the temptation to skip exercise too easily. While that's fine once in a while, it can become a hard habit to break if you skip out on your workouts too often.
So recently, I polled members of SparkPeople.com, America's No. 1 fitness and healthy living community, asking what THEY do to motivate themselves when they don't feel like exercising. Let me tell you: These people are a creative bunch. The next time you feel less-than-enthusiastic about your upcoming exercise session, take their advice. Here are 40 things you can do (or think about) to get your workout motivation back—and get moving.
SparkPeople members answer: "When I don't feel like working out, I ___."
  1. Do it anyway. (This was the most popular answer!)
  2. Tell myself to go for 15 minutes. If I still feel bad or unmotivated, I can quit. I have yet to quit.
  3. Look on Pinterest for motivation! (Check out Pinterest's Fitness section and follow SparkPeople's Pinterest boards.)
  4. Ask a friend along to the workout it helps us both with accountability.
  5. Do a heavy house cleaning (vacuuming, moving furniture, scrubbing) so I have a reason to work out.
  6. Watch a Crossfit video on YouTube. It always inspires me. Then I get it done.
  7. Take a 10-minute brisk walk.
  8. Take the dog for a long walk.

  9. Force myself anyway and feel better for it.
  10. Go to a yoga class. It gets me moving, and I always have fun!
  11. I sit by myself for a few minutes and think about all the things I can't enjoy because of my poor health.
  12. Sometimes I find myself doing it just to get my fitness minutes for the month. Proof that SparkPeople works!
  13. Work out anyway…then bask in the awesomeness!
  14. Find something new to do! If you run then go for a swim or a bike ride. Maybe you are getting bored with the same routine.
  15. Complain about not feeling motivated, then go do it, since I don't like hearing myself complain.

  16. I drag myself to the gym anyway. Before I realize it, an hour is passed and I'm glad I went.
  17. Post about your lack of motivation on Facebook, and get chewed out.
  18. Do it anyway because this is for me.
  19. Try to force myself to just do something for 1 minute (jumping jacks, squats, etc.). But usually I tell myself I will be happier that I did it instead of mad at myself for not doing anything.
  20. Put on my work out clothes, lace up my shoes and go for a walk. Once I'm out and moving I find my motivation.
  21. Do a SparkPeople workout video! They are always great workouts and I love that they are not super hard and complicated!
  22. Remember a time when I couldn't work out, and how sad I was when I was heavier, and how I don't want to feel sad again!
  23. Listen to some music—something with energy that I like. It's funny how the right music can make you move even when you think you don't want to, and it usually provides a mood boost, too (which is probably why I didn't want to workout in the first place).

  24. Put my feelings aside and use logic and reasoning. My feelings then change after a good workout.
  25. Follow an "easy" DVD and tell myself I'll do just one part of it. I end up doing it all usually.
  26. Put on my workout clothes!
  27. Do a workout at home instead of going to the gym.
  28. Remind myself why I started working out and how much better I feel and feel about myself when I am done!

  29. Do it anyway, just not as long.
  30. Remember how easy it is to loss fitness even after missing a few sessions.
  31. Put on my workout clothes first thing in the morning. Once I'm in them there's no reason to not work out!
  32. Remind myself of one of Gods promises in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
  33. Think how good I feel after a workout! Nothing else gives me that same feeling!
  34. Go bowling.
  35. I go get my small weights and start toning up.
  36. Do something light and slow, like yoga.

  37. Start working out anyway, and then, I figure I've already started, so I may as well finish STRONG!
  38. Put on dance music and move!
  39. Call a friend to encourage me.
  40. Think of all the people who can't and I go do it and am grateful that I CAN.
There are a lot of things in life that we should do but don't always feel like doing. For many, exercise is one of those things. But the only way to make it a habit is to do it—consistently. So next time you don't feel like it, make like these strong-willed SparkPeople members and do it—or something—anyway. Just get yourself moving, even if it's light and easy, and even if it's only for a few minutes. You'll be glad you did!

How do YOU get motivated to exercise when you don't feel like it? Do you skip your workouts or "just do it" when you'd rather not? Tell us in the comments below!

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    Very helpful ideas - 1/27/2018   6:14:36 AM
  • 246
    I always think of something small to start out with like walking in place. After I start walking then it motivates me to add some squats and lunges. Then I will add something else. After that sometimes I will add in a plank. If I'm on the floor then I might as well do some bridges and some leg lift. I might even do a few sit-ups. Then I might go into the kitchen and do some standing push-ups off of the countertop at an angle. By then I have at least a half hour work out in! - 1/16/2018   11:41:28 AM
  • 245
    Awesome! - 1/13/2018   10:28:41 AM
  • 244
    thanks... - 1/12/2018   10:56:28 PM
  • MICHELE1119
    at times i just need to honor my body and skip it , the next day I'm usually ready to go. - 1/12/2018   6:28:19 PM
  • 242
    The hardest part for me is just starting. Once I start, I usually finish - 1/12/2018   2:32:54 PM
  • 241
    If I need motivation, I go to Walmart, to remind myself if I don't work out, I could end up looking like the people there! - 1/12/2018   11:03:03 AM
  • 240
    Some great ideas! - 1/12/2018   6:46:41 AM
    tell myself 10 mins. If I start then I usually do the full workout. - 1/5/2018   4:48:49 PM
  • 238
    git her done! - 7/17/2017   12:52:24 AM
    Just do it, just do it, just do it. - 6/19/2017   1:07:20 AM
    I like the idea of just doing 10 minutes and then I'll usually get the motivation to continue for my whole workout. Lately I've found if I just don't wanna it's because I am starting to get sick. My problem is exercising when I should really not since I stay sick longer. (Right now recovering from flu symptoms and afraid to start up with my running routine too soon, too fast so the 10 minute idea is perfect) - 6/14/2017   12:44:27 AM
  • 235
    My biggest problem is that I am an insomniac. Even on medication prescribed by the doctor, I have a hard time sleeping. Last week and today is a real problem for me. I did a 10-minute walk, today. I liked the reason about the music. Music makes me feel better no matter how tired I am. I also liked the comment "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me". I will use music and the verse. - 6/12/2017   2:56:38 PM
  • 234
    Family funeral days are the hardest for me to try and get motivated. - 6/12/2017   6:32:14 AM
  • 233
    I can do it - 6/11/2017   11:06:33 PM
  • 232
    great article - 6/11/2017   2:43:22 PM
  • 231
    love these - 6/11/2017   10:05:05 AM
  • 230
    Love all this motivation. Just do it! - 6/10/2017   10:51:28 PM
  • 229
    keep on going.... this is a new you.... - 6/10/2017   9:29:03 PM
  • 228
    #1 for me....just do it! - 6/10/2017   8:08:42 PM
    Keep moving forward - 6/10/2017   6:23:00 PM
  • 226
    I usually do it anyway or last ditch effort go work on yard work. - 6/10/2017   3:11:47 PM
  • 225
    If there is not a valid reason such as sickness or injury; I ask myself, "Is today the day I quit?" - 6/10/2017   2:21:52 PM
  • 224
    Great list! My favorites are #1 and #40. :)
    - 6/10/2017   2:01:04 PM
  • 223
    I have different techniques, depending on why I'm having trouble working out.

    I have fibromyalgia, and recently had surgery to repair a ruptured perineal tendon, so sometimes the pain or fatigue make the kind of endorphin-boosting cardio I love beyond my body's ability. For those days I've found that just getting myself to move in small segments, with breaks: like tidying the house, then doing a 5-minute yoga video for addressing inflexibility issues. By slowly building the activity, I can often ease the pain enough to either go for a slow walk, or take the bus to the YMCA & get in the pool, with the promise that I get to enjoy the whirlpool or steam room after.

    If I'm feeling stressed or blue, then I pick the workout that's the most fun, regardless of it's "benefits" for my fitness or weight goals. I always give myself permission to stop, or change activities, if after 20-30 minutes ( my warmup curve) I'm working more than I'm having fun.

    There's also the incremental steps technique. Give myself the permission to do each step towards a workout and stop: get workout clothes on. Stop. Set up ski machine. Stop... Turn on favorite workout dance mix. Get on the ski machine and stand there, not moving, for 1-2 songs. Do 5 minutes. Do 20 minutes.
    The important part, for me, is that I HAVE to stop for 2-5 minutes and check in with myself after each incremental step, figure out how I feel, what's blocking me, what thoughts I'm having, etc. until I either really want to just do the workout, or I make a solid decision I'm not going to workout today. If I decide it's no, then I'm not allowed to to workout for the rest of the day, period, and I have to be very explicit as to why. Write it down, tape it up on the wall and face my reason.
    Somehow, doing all this work usually is harder than doing the workout, and telling myself I can't do any workout today if I quit makes me feel this was all wasted. The few times I've actually quit are usually when I'm not feeling well, or I genuinely recognize my body is aching for rest, and I was blocking the signals, trying to force myself to do what I "should" do, instead of finding out what I truly need. 95% of the time, I get really eager to do the work, and feel better after.

    Hope this helps others with ideas. - 6/10/2017   11:45:08 AM
    I can use some of these and even if I could not I can find a way to at least go walking - 6/10/2017   11:06:48 AM
  • 221
    Very motivational!!! Thanks!! - 6/10/2017   9:29:25 AM
  • 220
    Saved this to my favorites to help with motivation when it wanes in my life! - 6/10/2017   7:50:30 AM
  • 219
    I watch the video in the Daily video that says "Find your Greatness" It always gets me going - 6/10/2017   7:28:01 AM
  • 218
    Very inspiring - 6/10/2017   7:27:14 AM
    Thanks - 6/10/2017   6:36:04 AM
  • 216
    Awesome list to have around to kick my butt into gear, thank you for the article. - 6/10/2017   3:17:44 AM
  • 215
    I am going to try some of these motivators and begin to work harder to break this plateau. - 6/10/2017   2:02:40 AM
  • 214
    Great thanks - 6/1/2017   12:02:16 AM
  • 213
    Lately I decided I won't be a couch potato when I speak on the phone. This morning I had three phone calls and I walked around the house while talking on the phone. Not exactly a workout but not exactly doing nothing......... gets me moving. - 5/28/2017   7:14:01 AM
  • 212
    Thanks for the motivation - I need it! - 4/22/2017   8:38:21 AM
  • 211
    When I don't feel like doing it is when I need it the most. I am an emotional eater, so when so ething throws me off kilter, for thebetter part of 60 years, I have turned to food. Daily exercise has helped my overall mood immensely, but when I am down, I HAVE to exercise. It gives me time to think, put things in perspective and keeps me out of the kitchen. - 3/6/2017   8:05:52 AM
  • DLT645LBS
    First thing I do every morning is pour a cup of coffee and read my Bible. It seems like once I sit that's all I want to do. Any ideas? - 10/7/2016   4:21:37 PM
  • 209
    When I'm not feeling it, I just watch a workout video. I don't necessarily do the video, but I watch. That almost always motivates me to do at least a 10 minute HIIT workout. - 10/2/2016   12:18:39 PM
  • 208
    I agree with the "put on the workout clothes" contingent. I change immediately when I get home from work, to get that obstacle out of the way. Being dressed makes a few squats or calf-raises possible while making dinner or packing lunches. I can also go up and down the stairs four times in a row when I have a minute or two between tasks--if I'm dressed. Then, gosh, I'm all dressed, and warmed up, and dinner will not be for another 30 mins--let's pick up the dumbbells and get that done!

    It works. - 10/1/2016   5:32:02 PM
    Interesting points. - 10/1/2016   2:18:28 PM
  • CORYLW75
    good list of ideas, a lot of repeats. saw "just do it anyway" repeated 5 times . That seems to work for people. Also "put on work out gear" showed up a couple times. I would put the list at 30 things with all the repeats. - 10/1/2016   9:26:03 AM
  • 205
    These are great. For me the two that i use most are "just do it" and "I only need to walk for 10 minutes." I always do it and I always end up walking (or working out) for more than 10 minutes. - 6/8/2016   3:32:56 PM
    Music motivates me - put on my ear buds and listen to one of my workout playlists. Once I've set up my playlists, I look forward to listening to the music I've set up. I'm a joggerwalker! - 5/25/2016   12:29:03 PM
    Just this morning I was on my way to work but I didn't get hold of my workout buddy so I was debating not getting in my walk first but I reminded myself that if I don't do it in the morning it is highly likely that I won't get it done at all so I took my 35 minute walk; met up with another buddy once I was there and then afterwards heard from my usual buddy and we're going walking this afternoon too! - 3/1/2016   1:56:04 PM
  • 202
    Wow, I've been going through just this all this past week. I skipped yesterday and was dreading going today, but having just read this article, it actually gave me some motivation; even if it's just the knowledge that I'm not the only one who struggles with this! - 2/28/2016   9:48:35 AM
  • JWJB01
    Will do and thanks for the inspirational article. - 2/27/2016   11:17:22 PM
  • DREAD98
    wow, i didn't realize there are so many ideas to get that butt moving. Thanks - 2/27/2016   7:42:39 PM
  • 199
    This article was exactly what I needed today. I've had days were I "just don't wanna" and I usually tell myself to go and just do the cardio part ( I usually do cardio and strength training) and if I still don't wanna I can leave. Well, I always finish everything. Today was different I REALLY did'nt wanna so I used my treadmill at home and did some strength training with my at home dumbbells. I feel great now and so glad I did the workout and I found out I can sub a lot of the gym exercises with at home exercises. - 2/27/2016   2:28:08 PM
    this morning I didn't feel like walking at all, I lacked energy, then I read this article, I thought let's do it, and I did, I walked 2 hours on the treadmill while studying, the longest I have ever been so far, and I gained lots of extra energy to do the house chores and cooking etc... - 2/27/2016   1:37:38 PM

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