How to Stop Making Excuses for Not Exercising

7 tips to make exercising more fun and consistent

Two young women have fun while stretching and working out together.

7 tips to make exercising more fun and consistent

You probably already know that regular exercise is good for you. Being active benefits your mind and body.

And yet, statistics continue to show that Americans aren’t getting enough exercise. Currently, only 1 in 4 adults meet the federal standards for exercise.

Could it be we’re just too good at making excuses for not exercising more often? After all, how often do we hear ourselves or others say: “I’m too tired,” or “I don’t have time to exercise”?

“Overcoming the obstacles that keep you from exercising may be a workout on its own, but it is worth the effort,” says Richard Onishi, MD, a family medicine physician at Scripps Clinic Carmel Valley.

“To reap the health benefits of exercising, you have to just do it. You must make it a priority. What could be more important than your health?”

What are the benefits of regular exercise?

Exercise has immediate benefits, including:

  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety
  • Reduced blood pressure

Over time, it helps reduce the risk of chronic disease, including:

  • Dementia
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Several types of cancer 

How much exercise do I need?

Federal guidelines recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. This could be 22 minutes every day, 30 minutes five days a week or any other combination.

Include muscle-strengthening activity, such as weight training, at least twice a week.

Tips for more consistent exercising

Whether you’re starting an exercise program for the first time or trying to get back into a routine, these seven tips can help you make physical exercise a routine part of your day.

1. Do something you like

Many people force themselves to do activities they hate because they think they’re supposed to do so.

“If running on a treadmill makes you feel like a hamster, try an elliptical trainer or recumbent bike. Rediscover your love of swimming. Explore a new hiking trail,” Dr. Onishi says.

When your workouts involve things you like to do, you’ll be more likely to stick with them.

Don’t completely write off activities you think you don’t enjoy. Some people who can run five miles on scenic trails can’t last five minutes on a treadmill. Similarly, swimmers who loathe laps in a chlorinated pool may love being in the water at La Jolla Cove.

2. Put it on your calendar, keep track of your progress

Scheduling time on your calendar for a workout makes it more difficult for other things to get in the way. It eliminates the “I don’t have time” excuse.

So plan ahead. Schedule exercise for times in the day or week when you feel energetic. Set goals and keep track of your activities, using an app or a journal.

3. Fit in mini-workouts

No way you can set aside an hour, or even a half-hour, for exercise? Try “chunking.” This means breaking up your workout into several shorter sessions throughout the day.

Chunking can provide many of the same benefits as one longer one. And, at any rate, it’s better than no exercise at all.

4. Mix it up, develop new skills

Like anything else, the same workout day after day can bore you to tears. Explore a new running or biking route. “Walk on the beach instead of the sidewalk,” Dr. Onishi says.

“If you belong to a gym, try an exercise class that you’ve never done before. Along with keeping boredom at bay, different types of exercise challenge muscles you don’t usually use and give a rest to the ones you do.”

5. Recruit a partner, make it social

Working out with a friend can make your sessions more enjoyable, and you’ll be less likely to skip your workout when you know someone else is waiting for you.

Consider joining a gym or a sports league. This will give you a regular time and place to do an activity you enjoy, and you'll meet new friends.

6. Overcome fear of injury

Don’t let fear of injury get in the way of developing an exercise routine. Instead, learn how to warm up and cool down to prevent injury.


Learn how to exercise appropriately considering your age, fitness level, skill level and health status. Remember, choose activities you feel you can do safely.

“Listen to your body. It will let you know when you need to slow down or take a day or two off,” says Dr. Onishi.


Warning signs can include:

  • Not performing at your usual level
  • Feeling unusually sore or tired after exercise
  • Strained muscles
  • A higher-than-usual morning heart rate
  • Frequent colds or the flu
  • Fatigue

If you experience signs of over-exercising, heed your body’s advice and take a break.

7. Make it affordable

If money is an issue, choose activities that are affordable or require minimal facilities or equipment.

Park and recreation programs and worksite programs are convenient resources for regular exercise.

Reaping the benefits of exercising

The health benefits of exercising are too hard to ignore. “Once you get started you may find it becomes something you look forward to,” says Dr. Onishi.

“As workouts start to pay off in the form of better health, improved mood and an overall sense of well-being, you may even wonder how you lived without them.”

Related tags: