Eleven common excuses for avoiding exercise and a rebuttal to each. Try using on your less active friends or, yes, even on yourself.
5. I Move Enough Already
This was my excuse for a while too. I worked in an old building with many floors, very few washrooms, and only one extremely slow elevator. I like to keep myself well hydrated so you can see where I am going with this.
I hear this excuse from new parents and people who work in the service industry. Don’t get me wrong, if you have an active job or lifestyle that keeps you on your feet then you are doing better than a lot of people out there. But there is still something mentally and emotionally rewarding about focusing on your body through your own dedicated workout, and not simply getting some movement as a byproduct of having hyper kids, a slavedriver boss, or having to take four flights of stairs every time you have to pee.
6. I Already Did My 10,000 Steps
Let me say it right now: I am not a fan of the 10,000 steps craze. First, there's nothing magic about the number 10,000, except that it very roughly approximates 150 minutes of physical activity per week that your doctor hounds you about. Second, having that finite 10k goal gives us a reason to check "exercise" off our to-do list and hit the couch, even if we still have a spring in our step and a smile on our face.
If a step counter helps you stay motivated or leads you to be more consistent with your movement practice, that's great. But don’t let it limit you! If 10,000 steps has been your daily average for a while now, it is at least time to increase your step target (increasing by 10% each week is a good goal) or better yet, look for other ways to be a mobile citizen.
7. I Don’t Enjoy Exercising
I tried a large variety of activities and different sports before I found something that really “fit” for me too.
At the heart of so many of these excuses is the opinion: Exercise isn’t fun. It’s boring. It’s uncomfortable. It feels like a punishment. You know what I say to that? Are you sure you have tried it all?
Believe me, I tried a variety of activities and sports before I found something that really “fit” for me too. It took me a while to figure it out and, like an ever-moving target, it keeps changing. For a while I loved running, then I rediscovered playing hockey, then I did nothing but triathlon, then you couldn’t keep me out of the pool, then I tried some obstacle courses, and now I am addicted to lifting heavy stuff. All the while I stood at my desk, walked or rode my bike to work, and carried my groceries in a backpack.
There are so many options to choose from. Don’t let your preconceived notions of how boring it is to pump iron or how strange you feel taking a yoga class stop you from digging into an evening frisbee game, a lunch hour Zumba class, an evening LARP (Live Action Role Playing) game. Or try some parkour, aerial yoga, gardening, booty ballet, volunteer to babysit your friend’s 9-year-old, learn to juggle, try urban hiking, speed errands, or good old Dance Dance Revolution! The list is literally endless.
8. I’m Too Old
As I examined in an article on the benefits to lifting heavy things, no one is too old to exercise. Depending on your age, mobility, and health, you may have to consult an expert first, but as we just covered, there are so many forms of exercise to choose from, ranging from low impact, to high intensity, to purely mobility, to balance, all the way to strength training. There are even classes specifically designed for kids or seniors that you can enroll in to get some expert help and guidance. A great place to start looking for classes that fit your age and ability is your local YMCA or city-run fitness centres.
9. I Have a Bad Back (or Bad Knees)
Bed rest for more than a day or two can actually undermine healing.
This is a tricky one. But unless your doctor actually tells you to just lay in bed (which I haven’t heard since the 1990s), then engaging in activity is very often the best way to keep your back (or knees) limber, strong, and pain-free. Dr. Ullrich, an orthopedic spine surgeon and medical director of Spine-health, says, “Bed rest for more than a day or two can actually undermine healing.” And that's in reference to some pretty extreme cases.
When done correctly, exercises for relieving back or knee pain can:
- Strengthen the muscles that support the painful area;
- Alleviate stiffness and improve mobility;
- Improve circulation to the area;
- Release endorphins which naturally relieve pain;
- Minimize the frequency of painful episodes.