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


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/6/2013 12:00 PM   :  190 comments   :  1,088,165 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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    I plan to do something fun (such as shopping, or visiting a friend), and go there by bike or on foot. - 7/1/2013   8:15:39 AM
  • 139
    Good. - 7/1/2013   12:33:17 AM
    I'm very competitive so like in sports when they
    Have winning streaks. I want to have my own streak
    Of so many days weeks months in a row of walking/running
    Miles on the track. I always set I'm going to run this much each day of the
    Week and I MAKE IT HAPPEN. - 6/30/2013   4:31:56 PM
    I'm addicted to a good runner's high, so I rarely miss my twice daily exercise routines! - 6/26/2013   9:52:39 AM
  • 136
    I try talking one of my teens into going to the gym with me and usually convince myself in the meantime. - 6/17/2013   9:57:06 AM
    If I really can't get motivates, I will grab a good book and read on the stationary bike (with hills or extra resistance). It's not the best workout, but it's something and the time ends up passing too quickly. - 6/6/2013   9:49:25 AM
    Great blog - 6/2/2013   2:57:33 PM
  • 133
    I think this is really good, want to print it to keep! - 5/12/2013   8:31:16 PM
  • 132
    With the help of Sparkpeople, I am learning to just do it. - 5/12/2013   5:22:15 PM
    I sometimes do not feel like exercising or walking but I just make myself get up and soon I forgot why I did not want to walk. Motivation is great!! - 5/7/2013   4:32:57 PM
    I did NOT want to go to the gym today, but I went anyway and I do feel better for going. Sometimes we have do have to tell ourselves to stop making excuses, stop thinking about the laundry we need to wash, dishes we need to do and just go workout!! - 5/1/2013   12:18:24 AM
    I did NOT want to go to the gym today, but I went anyway and I do feel better for going. Sometimes we have do have to tell ourselves to stop making excuses, stop thinking about the laundry we need to wash, dishes we need to do and just go workout!! - 5/1/2013   12:18:09 AM
  • 128
    I schedule my workouts in the same way I would an appointment. When I wake up in the morning, I write in my planner "6pm-7pm gym." I don't let myself question it. It's an appointment. I always make it to my appointments. I actually enjoy working out now, but I didn't always. I had to keep repeating the phrase, "I love working out! It makes me feel fantastic. I love being physically fit!" Eventually, the feelings stuck and I started to believe it.

    If you want a rest day, schedule it with the understanding that you will eat extra healthy that day as to not go over your daily caloric needs. Go shopping if that makes you happy. I can walk miles in a mall without even realizing it. Any movement is better than nothing! - 4/23/2013   10:36:15 AM
  • MJAB0223
    Most of the 40 things on this list said "just do it" or "do it anyway" - that's not helpful/motivational to me (my opinion, don't get angry at me for it). I was really looking for 40 different things to try (or even 10). something to think about or just something different than i already do. telling me to "just do it" is just as ineffective as telling an angry person to "calm down" - just saying. - 4/23/2013   9:54:08 AM
    I've started working with a trainer once a week, that is enough to get me to do two more strength training days. July I will be doing the Boston Komen 3 day so there is motivation to get some serious walking in - 4/21/2013   7:45:53 PM
    When I don't feel like working out, I remind myself that if I don't work out, then I have laundry and dishes, vacuuming, beds to make, a shower to take, but I don't like taking a shower until after I work out, so by the time the housework is done, I usually am full of energy and go ahead and work out and take a shower. It makes me feel so awesome and that I have accomplished something for the day. - 4/18/2013   11:16:03 AM
  • MYHEART1972
    Great, I am motivated so I will keep going I will start slow and build up my time. Exercise here I come, thanks for the motivation. - 4/14/2013   2:46:19 PM
    @Albergetti: love it! That is absolutely the best, and thank you for sharing :) - 4/10/2013   12:05:29 PM
  • 122
    Yes there was some repetition of the ideas; but isn't reminding ourselves to just get out there and do it one of the reasons we read the article (it is for me)? I think it was great and since I've been dealing with a lack of motivation lately...the reminders to just do it were well timed for me!! - 4/3/2013   2:06:47 PM
  • 121
    seriously, about 10 of these were "do it anyway" .. completely unnecessary to stretch this out. - 4/3/2013   11:13:56 AM
    Thanks for the great ideas. Motivation can be tough!! - 4/2/2013   10:24:39 AM
  • 119
    good ideas - 3/26/2013   5:00:35 PM
    When I don't feel like going to the gym, I tell myself doing nothing is not an option. If not the gym then what? A walk, yoga at home, swimming, bouldering, dance video. Then i pick something to do. Sometimes it is the gym. - 3/25/2013   2:48:03 PM
  • 117
    Seems I am always encouraging someone or giving advice ....... Therefore,
    I must be do it myself! lol .......... it works! - 3/25/2013   1:01:11 PM
  • MOMMA182
    If I want to work out (even just jumping jacks & pushups at home) I put on my workout clothes. I almost always works. - 3/25/2013   9:54:15 AM
    I have been skipping my workout but still losing weight so I make that excuse. I did some heavy house cleaning for about 2 hrs and 45 minutes this week but other then that I have been skipping my workout these are very good suggestions. - 3/22/2013   10:55:35 PM
  • 114
    I love this - great advice. - 3/21/2013   10:14:20 PM
  • 113
    I usually take my kids out and play a game of tag. I bet some of our adult friends would love it too! - 3/17/2013   12:01:07 AM
  • 112
    Go to any trendy wannabe yoga studio in New York City ... you won't find "light and slow" unless you go to a class labeled "Restorative" or "Gentle" ... and many times the so-called "Level 1" classes kick your butt (they are vetting for potential teacher trainees ... always!) Light and slow are tough to find on the schedule because many of us over 45 work full time.

    Sometimes I wish I lived in Middle America ... (then I slap myself in the face!)

    Anyway, this is changing ... slowly - 3/15/2013   10:25:19 AM
  • 111
    I also agree that most of them are "just do it anyway" put into different words - 3/14/2013   1:48:47 AM
  • 110
    Definitely 17 & 37!
    I once got chewed out on fb after posting that I was running inside on a treadmill because it was raining out, lol! Good friends I have. - 3/13/2013   2:30:26 PM
    Fitbit. Fitbit. Fitbit. I am a newly inaugurated Fitbit Addict. And new to Spark, which has been an awesome resource, especially for recipes. I am keeping a close and constant eye on my successes. And pushing myself when I fall behind. In the past, pedometers have been the tool to my success. And the Fitbit takes THAT to a new level. - 3/13/2013   1:17:51 PM
  • 108
    My husband always says, "You're only 30 minutes away from a good mood." - 3/12/2013   11:08:40 PM
  • 107
    Take the dog for a walk. If you don't have a dog, get one! :) If it weren't for my dog, I would be up and moving around a whole lot less. - 3/12/2013   4:50:40 PM
  • 106
    #1 was my motivator this a.m. - Do it anyway. Helps - 3/12/2013   4:32:34 PM
  • 105
    I'm a teacher and am off for spring break. I have decided to pretend that I am on "The Biggest Loser" show this week. Just finished five miles of walking and running on the treadmill and feel great! - 3/12/2013   10:52:38 AM
    Love the quotes very motivating and I will post them on my refrigerator for inspiration. Great article. - 3/12/2013   10:45:06 AM
  • 103
    I tell myself that SOMETHING is better than nothing. My minimum is 30 minutes of walking every day, and if I get at least that done, I don't beat myself up. My motivation is to not break my streak of at least 30 minutes every day! - 3/12/2013   10:39:08 AM
    The article title is a bit of a misnomer. Quite a few of these "different" ideas are to just to do it. Which is a fine suggestion, but I was expecting 40 unique ideas and something that might genuinely spur me to work out. - 3/12/2013   8:59:45 AM
  • 101
    Hey, thanks, everyone. It worked! After reading the list, I got my running clothes on and after I drop kids off at busstop, I am going running!!! You are just what I need. - 3/12/2013   6:21:01 AM
    "I really regret that workout." said no-one. ever - I remember that and how great exercise feels. That's all I need. - 3/12/2013   5:39:40 AM
  • 99
    I liked this blog so much I pinned it. Good one. - 3/7/2013   7:36:00 PM
  • 98
    When that voice starts to sway me from exercise it's real easy for me to agree. But I realize this conversation is going on and I STOP IT. I HAVE to change the topic of the conversation in my brain. I can't think about it - I just have to GO DO IT! Once I'm at the gym it's too much to go back home. I'm there, I'll spend an hour to make it worth it - - 3/7/2013   7:22:33 PM
    Most days I can't wait to get home and put in my workout video or go on my walk, but there are some days when I just feel too exhausted and I think I can't do it.. But I force myself and it amazes me how much energy I do get from exercising! Five days of the week for atleast 30 minutes is my goal. I don't always make my goal. But I feel pretty good with what I have accomplished. And I am not going to quit! - 3/7/2013   5:55:58 PM
  • 96
    I usually go with option #2. I tell myself "get out there anyway and do 10 minutes, if you're still not feeling it after that, you can quit." Out of YEARS of working out, there are only maybe one or two times when I haven't actually completed the whole workout I had planned. So for me, it works! That first step out the door is SO often the hardest!! - 3/7/2013   1:41:13 PM
  • 95
    Good blog - but very repetative. If the message was to "just do it anyway" that's what you should have said at the beginning. - 3/7/2013   1:38:00 PM
    Great blog, I will put this to use. - 3/7/2013   1:21:38 PM
  • 93
    Thank you! This is exactly what I needed this morning. SO don't want to go to the gym. Even though I overate yesterday. Even though I'm running a 5k Saturday and this is suppose to be my last training day. But I need to go. I know that. So I'll go. - 3/7/2013   11:26:14 AM
  • 92
    What makes a difference for me is being engaged in short, medium and long term goals. That and getting in a good groove - getting in the habit of working out everyday. SP gives me a great way to get engaged - reading, posting, tracking and joining challenges. I lost 10 lbs the last time I really took SP seriously. This time I'm going to stick with it permanently and lose 30 and keep it off. - 3/7/2013   11:06:50 AM
  • 91
    I usually do a pretty intense workout. On days when I don't feel like working out, I walk for 30 minutes (briskly) or do a low-impact cardio workout for 30 minutes. It is still good for me and moving, and I got it done, but I didn't do the plan. It feels almost like a day off! - 3/7/2013   10:15:27 AM

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