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


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  213 comments   :  1,588,718 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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  • 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
    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
    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
  • 197
    I woke up this morning feeling tired and it wasn't so much that I didn't want to exercise as I felt I had little energy for my normal workouts. Instead I found some shorter cardio videos, did a couple and even finished off with a bit of yoga - first attempt and I could do most of it. Worked out for about as long as I normally do and I know I'll be doing some walking to go to a nearby event this afternoon which is bonus exercise. - 2/27/2016   11:01:27 AM
  • 196
    I make myself a deal -- work out for 10 mins. Then, if I'm really not feeling it, I give myself permission to stop. Most of the time the 10 mins leads to a full workout. Give yourself workout options (3-4 different sorts of workouts) so there is variety. Figure out what you do feel like doing.

    Also, plan for a rest day or two in your week -- sometimes your body truly needs a break. - 2/27/2016   6:41:57 AM
  • 195
    I do not let it be a choice--I HAVE to do it. Usually I enjoy it--but I just HAVE to do it. - 2/19/2016   3:53:54 PM
  • 194
    I agree the most with number 1, just do it anyway. I have my days when I decide not to exercise, telling myself it will be okay once in a while. Then I sit there for about 10 minutes, get really guilty, and do it anyway. All I have to do is remind myself that 335 lbs. was not fun. - 12/2/2015   10:54:13 PM
  • GYMRAT1234
    The hardest part for me is getting up to dress and lace my workout shoes. I guess it has a lot to do with preparing your mind and committing yourself to workout your body out. These tips are really helpful and I'll try some of them whenever I feel like taking a workout day off.
    mybestadjustabledumbbells.com - 8/12/2015   7:55:10 AM
  • 192
    Today was one of those days actually! 1) put my walking shoes on. 2) drank water. 3) Decided to just do 5 minutes or maybe 10. 4) Took dog for walk-turned into 17 minutes! The hardest part is just starting.

    The occasional complete is rest day is good though, just listen to your body. - 6/26/2015   12:42:02 PM
  • 191
    I hate working out. I don't feel better after. I treat it like it's my job and I have to do it everyday. Just one more thing we don't want to do but have to do anyway. I hope someday as I workout longer and harder this will change. But for now, I just hate it everyday. Actually, I hate it through out the entire time I am doing it. I just can't wait till its over. Seems this is not the way it is for others. - 6/25/2015   11:57:44 PM
    The best workouts are the ones you almost didn't do! :) - 2/26/2015   9:11:06 AM
    So much good stuff. Thank you for the great tips. Being positive and working out are the best ways to keep yourself healthy. These short inspirational quotes may also help some of you to regain your motivation www.hardquotes.com/inspirational-qu
    - 10/9/2014   2:08:30 PM
  • 188
    I some times hate the elliptical but I tell myself...just 5 more minutes and listen to some good music. Then before I know it 10 minutes have gone by and I'm still at it. So I do 5 more minutes. It works for me!! - 9/12/2014   7:20:28 AM
  • 186
    I love my time in nature, regardless of the weather. It keeps my mood up and helps me balance. So nice. - 9/11/2014   4:52:11 PM
  • 185
    Love these! I definitely want my monthly minutes trophy, so that's a big motivator. When I really don't feel like it I put on my favorite workout clothes, some nice perfume, and sometimes even lipstick. Little things that make me feel better about myself encourage me to make bigger changes! - 9/11/2014   2:57:52 PM
    I REALLY wish there was a way to bookmark or save Spark articles and create your own library! I would certainly love to have this one handy so I can refer back to it when I need to! - 9/11/2014   12:54:50 PM
  • 183
    I get up in the morning and I either work out first thing, or I get my kids to school and do before I go to work afterwards. I walk during my lunch break, and spend the day with my kids at home. And I work out with my husband in the evenings. It's better than the alternative of not doing it, or of not being able to. I must remember to grateful that I am capable of doing so when I look at proof in seeing my paralyzed mother who can't. :( - 9/11/2014   11:13:42 AM
  • LGW5002
    Motivation is my problem. Or is it procrastination? In either case this has helped. Thanks. - 9/11/2014   11:09:17 AM
  • 181
    As soon as I get home from work, I change into workout clothes. When i am sitting around lazily not wanting to work out, I realize how quick I can flip on one of my workout DVDs (might as well, as I am already dressed!) and do "just a few minutes," which like many others have said, ends up turning into my full workout. - 9/11/2014   10:51:43 AM
  • 180
    Aside from actually liking to work out I remember my heart attack. I know that working out is a critical component on maintaining my health and my weight. I just do it. - 9/11/2014   7:36:59 AM
    One thing that really helps me stay motivated at the gym is motivational clothing that pushes me to the max. When I feel like I can't do more im inspired to really dig deep. One thing that I bought recently was a wristband with the text "NO EXCUSES"

    If it helps this is what it looks like http://amzn.to/SNViGE
    - 5/11/2014   1:05:11 AM
  • FUSSEL2107
    Itīs the music. Itīs definately the music. I try to incorporate as much of my workout time into my normal daily routine. I hate doing repetetive stuff in the gym.
    So, after work, I turn on my music and instead of taking the bus, I walk the 3 miles home.
    Or I turn on some 80 dance movie music (oh the horror!) and dance around my living room, if I canīt be bothered to do a strength routine.
    Swimming is a twice weekly date with a friend. So, I donīt even get the idea to not show up :)
    Except for that, I try to be able to be as spontaneous as possible, to avoid that dreaded "bleh, I donīt want to pack and go to the gym" feeling - 2/18/2014   3:27:54 AM
    Read inspiring stories, view videos of people working out, and taking a walk at a fast pace motivates me to workout. Announcing to my children that I am going to work out encourages me to follow through because they look forward to joining me and I wont let them down . - 2/9/2014   7:04:43 PM
    Read inspiring stories, view videos of people working out, and taking a walk at a fast pace motivates me to workout. Announcing to my children that I am going to work out encourages me to follow through because they look forward to joining me and I wont let them down . - 2/9/2014   7:04:41 PM
  • 175
    I take a long look at my planned (or actual) food intake for the day compared to my BMR and realize how much fat I will be packing on if I don't do something to offset the extra calories I want to eat that day. So, I exercise to stay ahead of the bulge. - 2/8/2014   10:21:06 PM
  • 174
    Just tonight I found myself saying oh I don't like exercising, THEN I caught myself and rephrased and said "Oh I do like this , I always feel better after doing them. So there is one of mine that I do to get myself going.. It worked !! :D - 1/27/2014   11:48:35 PM
    I tell myself daily, it's time to workout. I try to walk every day, especially Mon-Fri. On weekends I change it up a little. I aim for 60-90 min a day. I have made it part of my daily routine. - 1/26/2014   9:28:58 PM
    it would be nice if any of these applied to my situation. Right now, I can't drive, don't have a friend who would go workout with me, and no way to the gym which is about 20 miles from my house. - 1/25/2014   8:25:33 PM
  • SAM_E1AD
    I have a hula hoop that I challenge myself to do for the fun of it. I also have a variety of videos around that I'll just plug in one at random and let it run, soon, I find myself joining in! - 1/15/2014   10:16:12 AM
    This was pretty good, but I just got done reading the Top 50 Reasons to Workout: Because... available on amazon and I think this was even better, so check it out if you need more reasons.

    Keep all the reasons coming as I can use them!

    - 1/14/2014   11:34:28 AM
  • 169
    Great list! If you can't get motivation after this, you might ned CPR! - 1/14/2014   11:03:31 AM
    I treat everyday like it's my last chance to get a good workout - tomorrow I might be ill or simply won't have the time to myself - and I think of how much I'll regret not taking the opportunity. I refuse to let apathy be an obstacle! - 1/14/2014   6:44:09 AM
    Any advice to motivate someone for whom exercise causes severe pain (especially back/hip and achilles) and who cannot get in a pool or beach? - 1/14/2014   5:12:38 AM
    Have a problem after work since tired and feet hurt. I will think of this and just do it - 1/12/2014   8:41:43 AM
  • 165
    Just do it and use music! - 1/11/2014   8:24:38 PM
  • 164
    This is a great article, but really it's like "34 Ways to Motivate Yourself" because six of them just say to do it anyway. - 1/11/2014   4:19:35 PM

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