This is Why You Fail to Exercise

You’ve heard it all before: Exercise is good for you. It makes you more attractive, makes your life more enjoyable, and solves all the world’s problems.

But what if you hate to exercise?

What if it’s just not you?

Here — I’ve listed out four common reasons why people fail to exercise regularly. Maybe you’ll find something in common with them.

If you do, give my suggestions a thought. Hopefully they’ll help — and you’ll find yourself giving exercise a second chance…


1. You Don’t Have The Time & Energy

Exercise requires commitment — time and energy. If you’re struggling with a full-time job, do all the housework, and still have to take care of three kids — how on earth do you find time and energy to exercise? Even if you had a free hour (which I’m sure you don’t), you’d rather rage at irrational issues on Facebook right?

There’s no easy fix here, but here’s a suggestion to free up time and energy for yourself: Take a notepad and write down every single thing you do every day, and how much time it takes. Do it for a week. Now review it — and look at how you’ve been utilizing your time. Are there inessential things you could drop to free up more time?

This may mean no more TV. Or a little less Facebook. But the benefits you’ll get from regular exercise will more than make up for it.

Most of us don’t look at it this way, but time and energy are finite resources. Dropping inessential things lets us focus on things that really matter.

p.s. This is not a suggestion to give away your kids. Although getting help to manage them is certainly recommended.


2. You Haven’t Experienced Progress

You’re thinking back about the time you worked up enough courage to step into the gym.

It was January. You were pumped up from your New Year’s resolutions. Dressed in your latest Nike dri-Fit attire and sporting the coolest earphones you could get, you walked in enthusiastically.

And then you realized it: you had absolutely no idea what to do. Intimidating machines, dumbbells, exercise balls — so many options and so confusing! Worst of all, everyone seemed to be staring at you, laughing silently at your pathetic attempts to get fit. Judging you.

But you persevered. You went back the next week, more determined than ever. But lifting the dumbbell felt risky and dangerous. Sitting on the exercise ball felt creepy. You ended up running on the treadmill and thinking to yourself “Hey, I could do this at home.”

If you’re not naturally inclined to physical exercise, working out can be intimidating. And if there’s no one around to guide you, it’s hard to progress — which is critical for motivation. People love progress — whether it’s losing weight on the scale, running a faster time, or lifting heavier weights. It’s in our nature.

No progress, no motivation = No exercise.

What to do? If you have the money, a personal trainer would be great. But if you don’t — most gyms have free group classes — which are a great place to start. They have a fixed schedule (so you can incorporate it into your weekly routine), there’s always an overly-enthusiastic instructor to guide you, and you’ll realize that no one in the class is judging you.

Because they’re really just like you and me: worrying that everyone else is judging them.


3. You Don’t Have Fun

You don’t exercise because it’s not fun for you.

“Leave my comfortable air-conditioned TV room for two hours of running in the heat? You’ve gotta be kidding!”

So let’s find a way to make exercise fun. Hey, how about trying different exercises till you find one you like?

Maybe you don’t like running. (I hate it).

How about some basketball? It’s easy to organize, a good workout, and most beginners say that they have fun playing it too. Or any other kind of social group sports. Look around hard enough, and I’m sure you already know some people who regularly play.

The other aspect of having fun is learning to accept the “bad” that comes with exercise. Despite what Photoshop-ed models on TV tell you — exercise is always going to be tiring. It’s always going to be a little hot, sweaty and uncomfortable.

Accept it. Accept it because it’s part of the process in becoming healthier. Accept that nothing worthwhile in life comes without struggle.

And struggle.

Then one day you’ll realize that you actually do like the climb. That the soreness in your legs actually feels kinda cool. Because it’s a sign of progress. A badge of honor in the pursuit of a better life.


4. Your Loved Ones Don’t Exercise Either

It’s tough to exercise if no one in your social circle cares about it. Or worse, if they mock you for trying.

For most of my life, I belonged to the exercise-once-a-week club. Despite my love for sports and self-improvement, I could never be disciplined enough.

The once– week exercise? It was usually basketball. With a bunch of friends I’ve known for more than a decade. Even if I was sick or unable to play, I would often drop by — just to chit chat with my friends.

A strong community to support your exercise habit just makes things really easy. It’s how I got from once-a-week to three-times-a-week: Friends. Friends to remind me it’s gym time at 5pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Friends to chit chat with while we’re lifting weights. And friends to discuss progress with over post-workout dinners.

Maybe you don’t have a group of friends who love to exercise. That’s OK — you can ask a friend along when you go try a new group sport. Maybe you’ll all get along and get absorbed into that group.

Or you could be friendly to your classmates when you go for group classes. Say Hi — ask if they’d like to go for a meal after working out.

Get social. It feels good for everyone involved. The deeper your friendships with your mentors, fellow-exercisers, and people who hang out where you exercise — the easier it gets.

Then, you won’t dread exercise anymore. Maybe you’ll even look forward to it.

Because it’ll just feel like hanging out with your friends.


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Pic Credit: Pexels

A different version of this article first appeared at Emmagem

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  • I think the biggest hurdle that I experienced before was that the first exercise was too much. It’s like going to buffet restaurant and eat everything and come back home stuffed and made you feel like not coming back for another month. I think this article is somewhat true, but you haven’t knock a wakeup call and give reasonable reason why people should exercise. The very best reason to start is the letter you opened from the doctor after you went for checkup and found some unpleasing truth.

    • Hey Leo,

      Thanks for dropping by. This article was meant for those people who already want to exercise, but have trouble sticking to their plan. I wanted to explore the common reasons people fail, and give some suggestions (based on what worked for me). Motivation to exercise is definitely very important — but there are already so many articles out there on reasons why people should exercise — and I just didn’t want to be another one. Maybe next time…

      p.s. checked out your website too. It’s great 🙂

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