How to Overcome Any Excuse Not to Exercise

Most people begin a new fitness program with great intentions and lots of motivation--only to find both waning within a few weeks. The realities of work, school, social and family demands often overwhelm the desire to get fit, and exercise gets puts on the back burner. Before you start your next fitness kick, use these six strategies to make sure you don't use "being busy" as an excuse to not get moving.

Excuse #1: I'm too tired to exercise when I get home from work or school.

If you typically crash on the couch after a long day (and can't seem to get back up again), there are several potential solutions. First, try bringing exercise clothes with you to change into right before you leave for the day. That way, you can either head straight to the gym or out for a walk immediately when you get home—without ever letting yourself succumb the siren song of your comfy couch. If you typically have more energy in the morning than in the afternoon, try an a.m. workout. Many gyms offer early-morning classes and provide showers so you can get ready for work without going all the way back home. You can also just roll out of bed, throw on a ball cap and a pair gym shoes and go for a walk in your PJs if that's what it takes! Hit the shower when you get home and you'll be good to go.

Excuse #2: I can't find a whole hour in my day to devote to exercise.

Who says you have to exercise for a whole hour in order to reap the benefits of physical activity? Studies show that even 10 minutes of consistent activity are beneficial to health and help with weight management. And even if you want to fit in 60 minutes of exercise, you don't have to do it all at once. Instead, you can break that hour up throughout the day, fitting in a little here and there, whenever you do have time. For example, you can start the day by taking the dog for a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood. At lunch, you can take 15 minutes to do laps around the office parking lot. And then you can hit the gym for 25 minutes of strength training on your way home. Even just one of those shorter exercise bouts has major benefits. It's all about doing something rather than nothing. Add in a little interval training or even Tabata training, and you can get a major calorie burn in just a few minutes.

Excuse #3: I travel too much to have time for exercise.

Even when you're on the road, you can still find time for fitness. Most major hotel chains offer small gyms with treadmills and elliptical machines and even some free weights. Barring that, you can always ask the front desk for a map and some advice for choosing a good walking route. Throw a travel yoga mat in your suitcase and you can exercise almost anywhere. Other fitness tools that are easy to pack include resistance bands or a jump rope. At a loss for what to do? Pull up YouTube on your computer and search for bodyweight fitness videos you can do wherever you happen to be.

Excuse #4: The gym isn't close to home, so I never manage to get there.

Who says you have to go to the gym to exercise? Netflix has a small selection of workout videos and your computer or internet-connected TV or game console can access free workouts from YouTube. And don't forget about the many great workout DVDs available to purchase or rent from your local library. But even if working out at home doesn't sound like fun, you can still get a serious workout without going to the gym. Go to the park and mix intervals of walking and sprinting with sets of pushups, broad jumps and triceps dips on a park bench. You can also turn household chores into a workout. Has your spouse been nagging you to clean out the basement? Going up and down the stairs carrying heavy boxes definitely counts as exercise!

Excuse #5: I have so little time to myself that I'd rather spend it with friends/family/kids.

Having friends is important to your overall health and well-being, yes, but so is getting enough exercise. So why not combine the two? In fact, studies show that having a regular workout buddy improves weight loss. Invite your friends to join you at a yoga or Pilates class. Organize a regular walking group that meets up on Saturday mornings. Instead of starting a book club, start a workout club where you take turns sharing your favorite fitness DVDs or trying out different classes around town.

When it comes to your loved ones, why not invite your family to get some exercise with you? You don't even have to tell them that's what you're doing. Instead, plan a hike accompanied by a healthy picnic. Or, rather than going to the movies on a Friday night, take the whole clan out for bowling or miniature golf. For your next family vacation, you can up the fitness factor by planning a whitewater rafting trip or a bicycle tour. After all, it's good for everyone to develop these healthy habits. When your kids see you doing it—and stay active with you—they'll be building a positive routine that could last well into adulthood. 

Excuse #6: It's dark when I get up and dark when I get home, so there's no good time to go for a walk.

It might be time for you to invest in a treadmill, stationery bike or elliptical machine. That way, you can fit in a cardio workout no matter what the sun (or the weather) is doing to the sky. One of the most cost-effective ways to buy an exercise machine is to look on Craigslist or in your local paper for people selling gently used equipment. As we know all too well, lots of people stock up on gear to start a fitness routine and then fail to stick with it. But there's no reason why you can't be the exception to the rule and take advantage of someone else's lack of motivation. You can also find good deals at resale shops or from gyms that are upgrading their machines. But if you'd really rather take a walk outside, you can do it safely after dark by wearing reflective clothing, carrying a mobile phone with you and bringing a friend or family member along for company.