Four excuses that keep you from getting fit and how to overcome them


Today I went for some chewing gum (ok, and chocolate as well) to the newsagents near my office.

As is my habit, while waiting for the bill I was scanning the head titles in newspapers and magazines. These were all screaming at me:

Get Fit!

Join a gym today!

You can lose 3 stone in four weeks!

Now, my regular readers know that I run a bit (though I’ve got a bit behind on this one lately) and am kinaesthetic – I need to move. When stuck for a solution, I go for a run. During meetings, I get up and start moving around at the critical moments – thank Goodness I’ve reached a professional level where this passed as a quirk rather than bad behaviour.

Today, I am in the same group as many of my readers – and the group of people targeted by these headlines. It is just after the holidays and like many other people I’ve had too much to eat and too little exercise.

I feel like a meatball; my middle has expanded and my clothes don’t fit. To top it all, I’ve been watching all this movies full of skinny good looking people.

This is why, when these headlines telling me to get fit were screaming at me, my first impulse was to drop the work, forget about the chewing gum and race to the nearest gym to join. Then I remembered that I am a member of a gym; and I have a personal trainer.

Many people will feel as I did; some of them will join a gym at the end of January: by then the message of the media to join a gym (or a weight control programme) would have become deafening and money won’t be as short as during January.

This is known in the fitness trade as ‘the New Year’s rush’; and when it happens the industry is rubs its hands in anticipation of the easy money. Why easy?

Because, as research shows, that 70-80% of the people who join a gym drop out within the first six to eight weeks. This means that people stop using the gym; many continue paying for membership for months and even years after they’ve stopped using the facilities.

In other words, the fitness industry is one of those that make money from failure. Think about it: you join the gym, you don’t use the facilities but you pay the fee…well, business that can’t fail really.

Except for your failure.

Thinking about it, there are variety of reasons for people to drop out after they’ve seemingly made a commitment to getting fit.

Today, I’d tell you about four wide spread excuses not to go to the gym or do exercise to get fit. You may recognise some or all of them: I know that I use them all!

1. Would love to but I am too busy!

Do you catch yourself thinking ‘I would love to be able to exercise regularly but I am too busy’? Or ‘I would really like to get fit but I hardly have time to see my kids’?

Or even ‘Today I have had a really busy day and don’t have time to exercise but will do tomorrow’ and tomorrow never comes?

If so you are not alone. Quite the reverse, you belong to a very large group of people – this is probably the excuse used most often when it comes to getting and keeping fit.

In my experience, two primary sources feed the ‘I am too busy’ excuse. You are too busy and don’t have time for exercise either because your day is not properly organised so you waste time, or because you really have too much on. In both cases changes will have to be done.

How to overcome this:

I’d suggest you keep a time diary for some time. It doesn’t need to be complicated: a simple table of three columns (time, activity and duration) will do.

Keeping a time/activity diary for sometime will allow you to see: a) whether and how much time you waste; an b) whether you can combine some activities.

Getting to grips with the latter takes some ingenuity. For instance, keeping a time diary showed me that I can save time by walking/running back from work – driving in rush hour would take anything up to 45 minutes when running back takes about 50 minutes. You see, I can make time for exercise and save on petrol (bus fare) at the same time. Every personal finance bloggers dream!

2. I can’t do this, I am too old!

Would you like to get fit, to run a marathon, to swim the English Channel or to climb a peak? Why don’t you? If your answer is ‘I am too old for all this’ you are one of the many people who fall victim to this alibi and use it as an excuse not to live their lives to the full.

I am not going to ignore or under-estimate the message of the passing time. Yes, people do age! Yes, there comes a time in our lives when we can’t do the things we used to do. But this is not a reason to stop trying.

Quite the reverse: the latest research shows that we don’t stop physical activity because we get older but we age because we stop.

How to overcome this:

Well, just snap out of it! Or read how Ed Witlock ran 2:54:48 marathon at age 73, 3:15:54 at age 80 and a 1:38:59 half marathon at 81. Other older runners who can blow a 40 year old off the circuit you could Google are Clive Davies, Derek Turnbull, and John Keston.

Inspiring! Yes it is. And you can do it too!

3. I am too big!

Many either refrain to or delay getting stuck into some serious exercise because they believe that they are too big to do exercise – or particular kinds of exercise. Statistically, the probability of you falling into this category is very high. Suffices to mention that according to the latest statistics half of men and one third of the women in the UK are overweight and a further quarter of the population are classed as obese.

How to overcome this:

There are two ways to overcome this excuse. One, is to realise that you have a choice: get up and do some exercise or get even bigger. Don’t know about you, but my choice is always to get moving; as to the teens trying to laugh at me, they are soon eating the dust I leave behind.

Two, you’ll have to start very gently. If you are really a bit over weight, don’t jump into running for hours; start by walking fast for increasing time. You need to develop the strength to carry your weight and this takes time and patience. Gradually, you’ll find that your weight goes down and your strength up; and you are off.

4. I’ll go out tomorrow

Well, we all know about this one and it applies not only to exercise. Procrastination is rife in our lives. I’ve been doing quite a bit of that lately.

How to overcome this:

When you catch yourself thinking ‘I’ll go out tomorrow’ force yourself to go out. Every time I manage to do that, I find that I don’t want to get back in and feel so much better when I finally do.

If you manage to go out five times in a row you are well on your way to form a good habit.


If you, like me, are part of the group that has resolved to get fitter it may be wise to look out for the four excuses discussed above and nip these in the bud. After all, we want the fitness industry to be making money from success, not from our failure.

Have you ever used these excuses or know someone who has used them? Do you use any other excuses to stay out of the gym/exercise routine?

photo credit: dkshots via photopin cc

15 thoughts on “Four excuses that keep you from getting fit and how to overcome them”

  1. I’ve had reasons (rather than excuses) for my fitness deteriorating over the past year or so, and I’ve found it hard to get back to exercising as a result. However, I was encouraged when my GP pointed out that my ‘not exercising’ was still significantly more exercise than most of her patients took (hey, I walked half a mile to the surgery, and half a mile back, my neighbours drove!). Now I’ve moved house, I’m motivating myself to exercise by a. joining a class in the village I’ve moved to (for the social aspect, obviously, it’s not about the exercise) and b. exploring the area (short walks during the working day, long walks with friends when they visit). I find that making it less about the exercise and more about the other benefits has got me through the mental block of doing it tomorrow. That and competing with friends on daily step counts!

    1. @Victoria: Yep, I know you had good reasons – sometimes it is this way. Also, you doctor is right and we move less and less (including our children). I also believe that the background activity matters a lot for our fitness – this is how much we move generally. Driving to the gym and parking as close to the entrance that they need to walk to steps. You are doing well!

  2. I just wrote about how you can make money with people’s resolutions :). To stick to it you need to start slow and steady. I hate the gym but love to go outside so that is my way around it. Running back from work sounds great, although many people bring back a laptop or lunch bag and it is more complicated. My best way is to run before anything else, at 6am. After breakfast I am full, at 5am tired, there is always an excuse, but not at 6am.

  3. We must be sharing a brain. Either that, or it’s January and gym operators are raking it in. I have a good excuse for not working out this last week: I’ve been nursing a cold. Next week, back to it.

    1. @Paul: You are right! John and I do this one – when I work from home as well we go for a long walk on the river bank (it looks like nature but it isn’t really; there are houses on the river bank and a coffee bar nearby :)). And all research shows that your body doesn’t mind whether you walk or run – as long as you move.

  4. I remember some of my friends saying those excuses. 😀 Getting fit is really important. It will boost your self confidence and more! On getting fit: If there’s a will, there’s a way. Am I right? ❓

  5. I’ve certainly used the “I am too busy” excuse. I really do have too much on, but it’s really about making it a priority. The times I did go, I would go to the gym, I’d go for about 5 months straight, 2-3 times a week, without missing a beat and I loved going. I just dreaded the getting there part. I made it a routine, many times, but it’s always that 5 month mark I can’t break. Either an illness, or we go on a trip, and I fall out of routine and that’s it! I did end up paying even when I wasn’t going, but luckily our gym membership was really cheap — although maybe another reason, why I wasn’t so worried if I missed a day. Getting started is the hardest part.

    1. @Anthony: Interesting and I wonder why it is five months. According to the latest research (Big Data, come in) after about five repetitions people are well on their way to form a habit. And once it is a habit it is part of your life. I’ve run on all continents, in all kinds of weather…Good luck this time around anyway.

  6. Great list! People seem to use the excuse of being too busy the most, whether it’s for working out or any other major change they want to make in their life. You just really have to make it a priority… chances are, you aren’t too busy, you are just spending that time doing something else!

  7. Once I’m in the habit of getting fit I’m fine. It’s getting into the habit that’s the problem. So, recently I’ve begun waking up super early so that I can get my workout in. I’m NOT a morning person, however I am sick of fussing/complaining/b$tching about my weight. No more!

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