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  • Writer's pictureMarcus Kowal

Top 10 excuses why people don’t work out

Why people don't work out
Excuses for not working out

Picture from Psychology Today

I can’t work out, because… can fill out the gap with a variety of reasons. I’ve taken the top ten but also rebuttals of them since physical health has to become a priority for every individual.

The excuses people make for not working out are as endless as the days of our lives. Often, these excuses are so ingrained that the individual doesn’t even realize that it is just that; an excuse.

Yes, an excuse.

Often, people call them reasons and although they are (sometimes), they are also excuses, because having physical health has to be a priority. If there’s no physical health, there’s also less mental and social health.

I started my first kickboxing club when I was 18 and I’ve been in the martial arts and fitness world ever since. As you can imagine, I’ve heard every excuse there is in the book (and some outside of it) and I wanted to share some of them with you today to see if, perhaps, you recognize some of them too. And maybe, just maybe it’ll help to get you motivated to do something about it and get started too!

Top 10 Excuses Why People Don’t Work Out:

  1. I don’t have time

  2. My kids take up all my time

  3. I can’t afford it

  4. My knees, elbows, shoulders (insert body part) hurt

  5. There’s nothing close to me

  6. I kind of work out

  7. I don’t have the energy

  8. I don’t have any equipment

  9. I don’t like working out

  10. I don’t know how

So, I’m not trying to call you out, I’m just….calling you out a little. You see, to make changes, we have to figure out what the problem is in the first place and then go to work to improve on said issue. You have to self-analyze and recognize where the problem(s) lie. If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see or if your doctor doesn’t like your numbers, then change them.

Yes, you can.

So how do we overcome these excuses? Let’s go through them, one by one.

How to Overcome the 10 Most Common Excuses Why People Don’t Exercise

  1. I don’t have time - To not have time to workout out because of kids, work, and school - Not having time is by far the most common excuse to why people don’t work out. In no way am I saying that these excuses aren’t legit. Many work two jobs, while simultaneously going to school. It’s easy to say we don’t have even thirty minutes to spare but if we really analyze our time, there are usually a few options, if we choose to prioritize physical health. Can you watch 30 minutes of TV less? Perhaps spend 15 minutes less on social media and wake up 15 minutes earlier? Usually, the problem isn’t time but rather prioritization of time.

  2. My kids take up all my time - This really should be more of “1 a” of this list but because it is such a pervasive reason (aka excuse), it deserves its own space. As a father myself, I agree. There are few things that take up as much time as our children. (That’s a sign that you’re doing good parenting!). However, there is usually still a good 30 minutes to be found. Watching your child’s soccer practice? Run around the field yourself while they’re training. Or better yet, include your children in the workouts you do! Go out for a run together, or do a workout routine at your local park. Martial arts are also a great way to train together with your child or children. Brazilian-Jiu-Jitsu or kickboxing are amazing ways to have fun with your kids and simultaneously have them learn how to defend themselves!

  3. I can’t afford it - Sure, you might not be able to afford a personal trainer or a gym membership but you can afford going out for a run around the neighborhood or doing burpees in the living room. If you have the internet, you literally have thousands of free fitness workouts on YouTube. You can even learn martial arts such as BJJ, kickboxing, MMA, and Krav Maga via the internet!

  4. I have injuries - There are exceptions to this but almost all workouts can be modified to suit your level. A good personal trainer will not only be able to modify but also be able to strengthen surrounding muscles while you recover. Smart training can help speed up recovery and help prevent future injuries. If you do online workouts, be sure to look for modifications.

  5. I don’t have a gym near me - No gyms near where you live? No problems. Again, you don’t need any equipment to get started. You can get into tremendous shape just using your own body. If you have somewhat of a budget, build a gym area in your garage. That way, you can skip the traffic too!

  6. I “kind of” train - If you put “kind of” in front of your workout, chances are that it probably isn’t enough. There are usually two things missing when it comes to working out: Consistency and intensity and out of those two, consistency is the most important! Working out really hard for 3 hours every three weeks will not come close to the same results as 20-minutes a day, four days a week.

  7. I don’t have the energy to work out - Lacking energy can be a direct result of not working out and living an inactive lifestyle. The first few weeks when starting on a regular workout routine will also have days of feeling tired and sore. However, as we continue through the initial friction, it will not only get easier but your levels of energy will increase as well.

  8. I don’t have any workout equipment - Once again, equipment isn’t necessary to start working out. Especially in the beginning, all you need is your body weight. However, even people with higher levels of fitness and more advanced workout programs aren’t dependent on equipment. It’s amazing how quickly you can tire out, using nothing but using your own body. If you get to a level where you want to start incorporating more resistance, there’s today plenty of in-home fitness equipment you can purchase on Amazon or other fitness websites such as Rogue. There’s also other options, such as in-home personal trainers who bring their own equipment, as well as plenty of online workout programs that involve equipment, such as Peloton and The options are plenty!

  9. I don’t like to workout out - Let’s be honest, starting any type of learning is usually very tough and frustrating. Whether it is learning how to play the guitar or how to dance, it usually involves a lot of failing in the beginning,. If you add physical displeasure to that, it’s not hard to understand why many don't want to work out. However, there are more and more studies that show why we need to work out, not just for our physical health (blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, the heart, etc) but also for our mental health. Studies show that working out is highly beneficial to decrease depression and anxiety. Shifting the mindset from “I should” to “I have to for, for myself” can help with that initial, and continued for that matter, push.

  10. I don’t know how to work out - Not knowing how is a very outdated excuse with all the information that we have available today. If going into a gym that offers personal training or group classes where you have to just follow along isn’t financially feasible, YouTube offers a world of information, explanations, and even workouts for free!

Let me make this disclaimer; yes, you can do it all for free with the internet and Youtube as coaches, it’s that simple. But simple isn’t always easy. Usually, when it comes to exercise, knowledge isn’t the barrier to success but rather consistency and intensity. If you don’t have a hefty amount of intrinsic motivation, training with a coach or at a gym can increase your chances of success, since it includes accountability and social factors too.

The hope of this article is to help you get started and to see that the excuses we cling onto can often very easily be overcome and help you get started on your health and fitness journey too!

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