11 Common Exercise Excuses (and How to Overcome Them)

Eleven common excuses for avoiding exercise and a rebuttal to each. Try using on your less active friends or, yes, even on yourself.

Brock Armstrong
10-minute read
Episode #370

10. I Am Too Fat

A study in 2000 sought to pinpoint perceptions of being 'too fat' as a barrier to physical activity. It categorized the results by gender and body mass index. 2,298 average Australians were surveyed and researchers found 4.4% of respondents reported that being too fat was a barrier to physical activity. This was more common among women (6.2%), and among the obese (22.6%). I bring this study up to reassure you that you are not alone. But I am here to tell you that no matter what number you see on a scale, you can do something today to begin the process of improving your health.

Please don’t fall into the trap of believing that exercise may be dangerous for you because you think it has to hurt or make you sweaty and out of breath to be effective. Beginning an exercise program is often a matter of simply moving more. It doesn’t need to be a difficult class in the gym or excessive time spent lifting weights. Start small and work your way up to more intensity and volume in activity only when you’re ready to do so. Mentally and physcially.

11. I’m Already Skinny

Ok folks. As a general rule, we really have to stop confusing and melding exercise into one lump with weight loss. They are not intrinsically linked. There are so many health and wellness benefits we get from exercise (that I will list in a minute) and weight loss is only one—and honestly, it is the smallest one as well.

Most weight loss experts will tell you that results are 80% from diet and only 20% from exercise. Yes, lean mass is usually associated with better health, but it is not an indicator of your organ health, lipids levels, or insulin sensitivity. Exercising is not just a means to keep your weight down, so let’s draw a clear distinction between weight loss and fitness. Weight loss is often just a number; fitness is a process that benefits our entire body and mind.

No More Excuses

The body is a complex thing and a lot (and I do mean a lot) happens inside your body when you exercise.

The body is a complex thing and a lot (and I do mean a lot) happens inside your body when you exercise.

Let’s start with the changes in your muscles. Your muscles use glucose and a thing called ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) to contract and move. To create more ATP, your body needs to grab more oxygen, so your breathing increases and your heart starts pumping more blood to your muscles. Then, as you workout, tiny tears in your muscles occur and make them grow bigger and stronger as those tiny tears heal between exercise sessions.

There are also changes in your lungs as your muscles call for all that extra oxygen (15 times more oxygen) and your breathing rate increases. Once the muscles surrounding your lungs can’t move any faster, you’ve reached what’s called your VO2 max—your maximum capacity for oxygen use. And, in a nutshell, the higher your VO2 max, the more badass you are. A high V02 max is one of the things Lance Armstrong (no relation) was known for before he got known for that other thing…

There are also changes in your heart. Your heart rate naturally increases with increased physical effort so it can supply more oxygenated blood to your muscles. The fitter you are, the more efficiently your heart can pump (volume and frequency), which allows you to go harder and longer. A little side benefit, your blood pressure will decrease as a result of this efficiency and some new blood vessels forming.

Then there is some fun stuff that happens in your brain as well which I outlined in an article on how exercise affects your brain where we learned that being sedentary all day everyday is as dangerous to your waistline as it is for your mind.

A number of very cool neurotransmitters are also triggered: endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA. You may recognize these names because some of these are well-known for their role in mood control and they explain why exercise can be one of the most effective preventions and treatments for sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression.

There are also changes that happen in your joints and bones, since exercise can place as much as six times your body weight on them. In a vast oversimplification, when you are young, your bones are dense but actually somewhat porous and soft, and as you age your bones can easily become less dense and more brittle—especially if you remain or become inactive.

One of the key health benefits of exercise for many people is how it helps normalize your glucose, insulin, and leptin levels by optimizing insulin/leptin receptor sensitivity. This is perhaps the most important factor for optimizing your overall health and preventing a plethora of chronic diseases.

While we all know that staying physically active is essential to a long, healthy, productive life, we don’t often make time for it or we actively find excuses to avoid it, and I think that's because we don’t understand exactly what’s happening behind the scenes.

Hopefully this list of excuses and my rebuttals gives you a better understanding of the whys, the hows, and even the whens of exercise that will serve as motivation when you find yourself about to say, “I would go for a swim but I don’t like the marks my goggles leave on my face.”

For more excuse info, motivational tips, and to join the rebuttal, head over to Facebook.com/GetFitGuy or twitter.com/getfitguy. Also don't forget to subscribe to the Get-Fit Guy podcast on Apple Podcasts, StitcherSpotify, Google Play or via RSS.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Brock Armstrong Get-Fit Guy

Brock Armstrong was the host of the Get-Fit Guy podcast between 2017 and 2021. He is a certified AFLCA Group Fitness Leader with a designation in Portable Equipment, NCCP and CAC Triathlon Coach, and a TnT certified run coach. He is also on the board of advisors for the Primal Health Coach Institute and a guest faculty member of the Human Potential Institute.