Habits of Fit People: Don't Make Exercise Excuses

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You want to be a fit person, right? That's why I'm sharing my own habits for keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.

Here's one that works for me: not making exercise excuses.

The difference between fit people and unfit ones isn't a matter of intention—it's about consistency. We all have the best intentions to work out, but fit people will find a way to exercise no matter what life throws at them. They are committed to following their fitness plan day in and day out, even when long work hours, childcare, holidays, travel, and other unforeseen circumstances throw a wrench into their plans. They don't confuse "being busy" with being active. Fit people plan their workouts, maintain a backup plan, and even commit to a shorter workout if that's all that time allows. Put simply, they don't make exercise excuses. So how can you be more like them?

The excuse people most often make for not exercising is "lack of time," but the truth is, we're all busy. You can complain about it. You can theorize that everyone else must have it easier than you do. However, let's be honest: We all have commitments and obligations; we just choose to prioritize them differently.

One of my favorite Nike ads says, "Someone busier than you is running right now." Take a moment to let that resonate. I like to think about this phrase from time to time as motivation. No matter how busy I feel like I am each day—and I am definitely busy!—I know there are people who do much more than me each day and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. That thought inspires me to stay committed to exercise, too, even on days when I swear that I don't have time to work out.

If you still feel too busy to work out, you do have some options.
  • Break up your workout into smaller chunks throughout the day, such as 10 minutes in the morning, at lunch, and after dinner.
  • Try a shorter workout. On my busiest days, sometimes I only have time to exercise for 10 or 20 minutes, but I still get out there and give it all I've got rather than letting that all-or-nothing mentality convince me that I might as well do nothing.
  • Turn off the tube. If you have time to watch TV, then you have time to exercise. That's another thing I like to remind people who struggle to stick with a routine. I am certain that one of the reasons I can juggle so many responsibilities and still work out is because I watch almost no TV. Try it yourself! You'll be surprised how much time you discover in your schedule—probably enough to hit the gym and cook a healthy meal each night!

Life is always going to be busy, stressful and difficult, but we must learn to weave workouts and other healthy habits into our current lives. We can't all leave real life behind and live on "The Biggest Loser" ranch for a few months. It might take some re-prioritizing. It might mean saying no to others or asking for help. But it can be done! All the fit people in the world can attest to that!

Do you struggle with exercise excuses or is your commitment to exercise unwavering? How do you stick with your workouts even when you're busy?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


Exercise is a priority in my life. I try to make it the first thing I do each day. I average between 90 minutes and 3 hours a day. Since I was laid off my job a year ago, I've made exercising and health my primary "job". Now I am studying to become a personal trainer. Report
This is so true...I used to be one of those people who had no time for exercise, but found plenty of time to watch TV or use the computer. Slowly but surely, I decided to schedule exercise into my day, and even on the weekends, when I have a busier schedule than the weekdays, I still manage to get at least a 15 minute walk into my day Report
How true this article is! It hit home...and no wonder that when I was watching "Biggest Loser" I felt guilty and had to exercise while watching the show. I should be up and exercising. No exercise...no tv! Simple as that for me.
Thanks Nicole for making us aware! Great blog! Sometimes we need that little nudge to set us straight... Report
Thanks Nicole for reminding us that consistency is the key! Report
Excellent article. I learned last night to watch as much TV equal to the amount o time I exercise. If I exercise 1 hour per day then that is the alloted time to watch TV. I also need to leave a post it note on my remote control to remind me how much time did I exercise for the day. Exercise for better choices of TV time including You Tube. Report
I don't watch much tv, but can still combine 30 minutes on the stationary bike with catching up on the day's news. Report
Thanks for your column! I was feeling under the weather because of a cold, so I decided not to go out bicycling. Then I read your column and got my husband to go for a long walk with me. It felt good to get outside into the sun, and although I'm tired out just by the walk, I'm really glad I did it. Report
Great article!

When I first started exercising, I found time for it by doing exercises in front of the tv. That way I was able to do two things at once! Now, I get up early in the morning and spend an hour at the gym. I always feel so much better later on in the day because I've started the day right. Report
I fell out of the habit when I got busy, and it shows! Report
Exercise is finally a habit of mine. It's worked into my weekly schedule and it usually doesn't change. I am flexible, though, if the weather is bad (I work out outside), but I always make sure to make up missed time. Report
It's the computer, not the TV, that's my downfall. Time spent on SP is time well spent, but going thru email & playing cards isn't! Report
The TV tip is definitely true! I used to watch too much TV in college, and once I graduated (and somehow got exponentially busier) I realized TV was a huge time-waster that prevented me from doing things that I actually wanted to do more, such as exercise, read, study, etc. We're just conditioned to turn on the the TV when we get home, and we get sucked into it...now I just watch the one or two weekly shows that I love, and I look forward to those. Report
Well, I have been caught...LOL I have been guilty of making excuses..but no more.. it is time for a new me... Report
This article is so true, such a helpful way to think of things! Report
Ok so I have to get on the ball thanks for the help. Report
Consistency is also my key to success. I love the results of my consistent daily workouts, so that is my greatest motivation. Exercise has renewed my spirit and certainly supports maintaining my weight. Report
This is a GREAT blog! We all have the same amount of time in a day. It's what we choose to do with that time that counts! I agree with you about the TV thing. Add the computer to that idea too. It's interesting how many people post on FB that they don't have time to exercise or this or that. It's like, well, what are you doing on Facebook then? ;) Report
This is timely for me as I will be taking a lengthy car trip in the next few days and will be missing my opportunities to swim and get to the gym. Travel has often been my "excuse" for throwing off the fitness regimen. This article really brings int focus the need to have a plan to stick with when routines are disrupted. Report
Exercise, particularly running gives me a good start to my day. However, it annoys me to think how long it takes me to actually get out onto the road for my run that takes less than 20 minutes.
I have to block out two hours in the morning, getting up at 4:30 a.m. to answer the call of nature, stretch and go through my exercises to insure I can run injury- free. After running, I take out the dogs, shower, have breakfast then rush out before 7:00am to get to work.
I love weekends when I can spend as much time actually running as I do preparing to run! Report
This article was a great read. Regular exercise is do-able, and it's one of my biggest challenges. I have been consistent for the last 16+ weeks and I don't ever want to revert back. I want to make this life change for my overall well being. Report
Almost the only tv I watch is the news, which I dvr and watch later- while I spark- and the Red Sox, of course. I exercise 60-90 min 6 days a week. Report
I'm going to see if I can find that Nike ad! I already just wrote that message on a piece of paper I'll put on my bathroom mirror. (With all the stickies and papers taped to that mirror, it's a miracle I can see my face to put on my SPF 15 moisturizer!!! ;-)

Thanks for writing. Report
SP is the 10 min consistency mantra ... I think this positive approach is the best
when I do an hour or more I feel like I've make the grade
and when I only have time for a 10 min or 30 min I know I'm doing well
after all 10 min is always available ..... Report
I walk everyday first thing no excuses, no matter what the weather may be. I positive speak to myself, while moving my feet as quickly paced as possible. I always feel fuller and more enriched to start the rest of the day! Report
Working out has always been hard for me. I try to force myself to do at least something and often, will tell myself I can go for just a 10 minute walk but once I am out there, I enjoy it and do walk for 20 or 30 minutes. I just have to make myself do it. Thank You . Report
I almost wish I owned a tv so I could have more time by turning it off. But I got rid of mine over 5 years ago, and the press of other activities has crept in to absorb the time I used to have newly saved.

But I can't say it's lack of time that makes me unexercised, so much as laziness: I KNOW I feel better when I exercise: I KNOW I've reached the threshold of that period in my life when if I don't exercise, I'm gonna be in big trouble; I KNOW all these things, and yet, I don' t shape my life to include exercise. But it's a great article, and I will try, yet again, to make exercise part of my life. Thanks, Coach. Report
What a great quote from that Nike ad! And so very true. I like to work out while reading/watching TV. I love getting multiple things done at the same time. Report
No, the only think I seem to get right when I watch my weight is exercising. Now if I can be good watching what I eat, I probably won't have to exercise as much. Report
I try my best to get my exercise in everyday. The days I don't I am drained (which are not often). There are some days I feel as if I will go bananas if I do not get to exercise. Report
I totally agree with this article. I think we all have time to exercise it's just a matter of how important it is to us to get fit if not just for ourselves, but also for our family! I believe that God gave us this one body and he wants us to treat it like our most prized possession and keep it healthy. I don't believe that just means working out, but also watching everything you put in your body!
I usually do my workout first thing in the morning because I know that is when I will be able to get it done. I haven't been feeling good the last few days and working out actually helped me get some energy back into my life. I hope that everyone on this website will make a committment to take better care of their bodies! Report
Funny, you brought up a good point. Now that I am living a healthy lifestyle I find myself watching A LOT less TV! My DVR is full, and i really don't care. I cook a healthy meal after work, head to the gym (my backup is wii fit if I don't have time) shower and crawl into bed. Report
I schedule my workouts like everything in my life. Sometimes my workouts get they way of other activities . . . my friends & boss hate it. LOL, I don't care. Report
I have put gym time as reoccuring meetings in my Outlook calendar at work. Helps me to make working out as important as any other meeting I have scheduled. Report
I turned off my TV when OJ Simpson was on trial. I discovered I didn't miss it and now don't even have one. Life is too short to spend it in front of the tube. Report
Fortunately, I've never had a problem with exercise. I've always enjoyed being active in some way. My problem was food, but that's another story. I exercise regularly because it's something I love doing. To me, exercise is fun, not work.

How do I stick to my workouts when it gets busy ? I do my best to sneak in workouts when I can. That might mean taking a walk at lunch or getting up earlier to hit the gym. Report
Great article!! it says it all!! Report
Every day you eat, you sleep, you breathe, you exercise. No problem Report
Wow this really says it all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thanks so very much Report
I do NOT watch TV at all. NOTHING worth watching, but I think I spend way too much time trying to see all the stuff SPARK has going. Report
I placed a TV in the garage where my stationary bike, treadmill and rowing machine are. I still can watch a program and get my workout done at the same time. Since putting the TV in garage my workout time has actually increased. Report
We make time for the things we wanna do and this is a helpful tool to start from somewhere! Even 5 minutes can make a difference and then, increase it as you go. Life happens and then, we're fat! I enjoy the times between commercials and have my weights and mat by the T.V to remind me. I feel so much better afterwards. Report
Great blog! during the commercials of my favorite show I do crunches on my exercise ball. Report
The building I work in has a neighboring building which has a gym that employees at either building are allowed to join. I worked in my office an entire year sitting at my desk everyday thru lunch doing nothing. After watching a Biggest Loser episode last Fall I finally got up walked over there and joined. I don't care if I'm the biggest women in the room I pack my bag every night and I go almost everyday during lunch. Whether its 20 minutes or 40, and I'm able to exercise, use the sauna, shower...and get away from my life in the cubicle. Report
Great blog. I am getting better about fitting in my exercise. Last night when it was suddenly 8:30 and I still had not gotten in my workout, I took the dog for a 20 minute walk. It felt good not to skip a day just because I was "too busy"! :) Report
I twisted my ankle and my first thought was on no now I can't exercise. But ya know I have been doing upper body workouts and any thing that is not weight bearing. I've lost 3 pounds. Report
This article is great. I use to be one of those people that used the "I'm too busy" excuse. Now, I have a "fit" mentality and am working towards a fit body. Report
Great article. I need to work on this big time!
Had an argument in my head last night about getting up in the morning and going to the gym. So much to do today to get ready for a weekend retreat. Got up, went to the gym, got everything done...still have 2 hours before I leave! Now if only I could win these internal arguments every day... Report
This is a great article, and it's great to see that readers are getting the right message. However, I think it misses two other ideas on how to think about exercise and being healthy:

1) Be selfish. You have to stay healthy for YOU. Not anyone else. If you find you're doing too much for others that it leaves you no time to be healthy, say "No". I think this step can also build self-confidence as you learn to live your life for yourself.

2) Try to think of exercise as "me time". When you're having a stressful day, 30 minutes of exercise can help to alleviate stress and clear your head. If you prefer aerobics classes or group exercise, think of it as spending time with some good friends. Once you begin to view exercise as time for yourself, you'll start to look forward to it. Report
So true! I think I've been using this excuse a little too much, and I can see the results now. I'm a mom, full-time employee and a full-time Grad student. I had to sit down the other night and plan stuff around. Go figure! I managed to find half hour at least four days a week, where I can go out and get active with my youngest daughter. It may not be a killing cardio training session, but it's something! AND it's better than being on the couch munching stuff. Report
I started sparkpeople I focused mainly on the food part. I decided when I got comfortable with what I was eating that I needed to kick up my workouts. Reading blogs and articles helped me realize what I needed to do to get to my goals. Once I commited to up the exercise NOT working out was ever an option. I have missed a few days and paid for it later. Getting back to my routine after 2 days of lazy was just not worth it. Whats worth it is me. I feel my workout time is ME time. Also I feel the few hours in the evening when my son and I push the pause button on the tv nearly as often as we are watching our shows is JUST as important. Watching TV isn't terrible, its sometimes a way for my teenager to open up a conversation and get us talking. We also play board games. We do things as a family out side too but there is much to be said about a quiet evening at the end of a very long day. I love the silly conversations and I love the fact that he is still talking to me instead of with ear buds in and locked away in his room... Report
Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.