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


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  212 comments   :  1,588,219 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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  • 162
    #32. So who am I to think that I can't if I can do all things through Christ? - 1/11/2014   10:01:35 AM
  • 161
    I love this blog! I am saving it on Pinterest for inspiration.

    *Just a note, there is a typo in #30! Also, your "Fitness Section" link doesn't work. Thought you might want to know! - 1/11/2014   8:45:38 AM
  • 160
    I go with No. 2 -- make a deal with myself to just walk around the block if I don't want to go further. So far, that gets me out and I've never yet gone "just around the block"! I love to walk - just need a push sometimes to get my shoes on and get out the door! - 11/11/2013   8:07:11 PM
    I remember back when I prayed I could move without pain, without losing my breath. Today I'm training for my first 5K.....that's all the motivation I need.....
    - 10/25/2013   8:18:13 PM
  • 158
    Baby steps. When I am not in the mood I will say to myself, "just put on your workout clothes and shoes, if that's all you want to do then fine." Then, "just drive to the gym, if all you want to do is sit in the steam room, fine." But of course, as soon as I'm there I go for a swim or do strength training and then sit in the steam room as a treat. - 10/9/2013   11:20:03 PM
  • 157
    last time i really didnt want to go i had the motivation then i got dressed and everything and my motivation went away. i told myself my motivation went to the car ahead of me. i know once i get out to the car i will go to the gym. part of me hates walking all the way back inside when ive already got the car all set up for me to drive it. so i go to the gym which is 20 min away and then i dont want to get out of the car but i think about if i dont go in and workout i will have wasted a ton of gas and its not worth it. - 9/13/2013   9:03:34 PM
    I've gotten into the habit of using the Wii Fit to get me motivated. Since the aerobic games on there are only 3-5 minutes a piece (and silly), I convince myself to do one of those as a warm up. Once I'm moving it's easier to decide to do an actual workout. - 8/7/2013   1:30:37 PM
  • 155
    My motivation is my mother she has MS and is unable to do many things, to see her unable but know she wants to makes me push myself. - 7/26/2013   9:13:28 AM
  • 154
    I admit there are some days I just don't do it...mostly because I procrastinated. There's nothing like procrastination for not getting anything done. Most of the time now though I tell myself to just get 10-15 minutes so I've done something. Thanks to Sparkpeople and my favorite T-tapp coach I've learned that little bit is SO much more than all my days of nothing! - 7/17/2013   10:53:07 PM
  • 153
    I like this alot .. the best solution for me " I will do it any way .. " I will DRAG my self to the gym" .. what can be a better solution?? and yes, it always feels better and you always feel strong - 7/6/2013   2:51:26 AM
  • 152
    This was me last week. I was so not motivated but I am back and raring to go. I don't usually have problems being motivated but it was a down week as far as enough exercise was concerned and it showed in the scale for sure! This list is awesome!!!!! - 7/2/2013   7:21:05 PM
    Get something like a fitbit that measures your steps and lets you have a Leaderboard with your friends. Each day you can compare who has done the most steps. You can even agree the winner each month gets a massage the losers pay for. It makes it much more enticing to take those extra steps! - 7/2/2013   2:08:54 PM
  • 150
    What about those, such as myself that hasn't even started an exercise regiment yet? I really would love to learn more about strength training( extra skin is becoming more apparent.
    Most recently i started walking on my "dustmill" I have done 10 min 2 days in a row. which is huge for me. - 7/2/2013   12:27:45 PM
  • 149
    I usually just do it anyway, like I did tonight, and I always feel better and I am glad I did it. - 7/1/2013   11:09:43 PM
    I am saving this page and when I don't feel like it I am going to look back at suggestions to movitate myself to go - 7/1/2013   11:00:26 PM
  • 147
    This list was just what I needed. I was sitting here thinking about how much I don't want to work out, and how I can skip it today, but after reading this, I am going to do SOMETHING! :-) - 7/1/2013   10:13:43 PM
  • 146
    Cardio is something I just DO. I avoid strength training because I haven't found a routine that makes sense to me. Meg's 8 min desk training is close, but I don't have room to watch the video and do the exercises at the same time. I will make myself do it, somehow! - 7/1/2013   7:35:04 PM
  • 145
    Thanks for posting this. I have been battling this demon for 2 weeks. got the cardio in focus but the strength training is what I tend to avoid...just do it eh? - 7/1/2013   3:47:59 PM
  • 144
    It amazes me how often I I give myself permission to sit on my butt. I can always rationalize how tough my day was, how tired I am, etc. but actually working out makes me feel so good so I always try to focus on how I'm going to feel when I'm done. If I can focus on that, it's usually pretty easy to get motivated.
    - 7/1/2013   2:53:38 PM
  • REMAX2013
    This was a good article. The underlying theme being "just do it". Great advice. - 7/1/2013   9:41:58 AM
  • 142
    I have recently learned about color runs - that is what is getting me out of bed- so I can actually try one for myself!
    - 7/1/2013   8:31:46 AM
    Great blog!!! I am saving it so that I can refer back to it when I need a reminder of why I need to workout. - 7/1/2013   8:31:05 AM
    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
    seriously, about 10 of these were "do it anyway" .. completely unnecessary to stretch this out. - 4/3/2013   11:13:56 AM
  • 120
    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

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