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Why Do People Not Exercise?

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 3/25/2011

You might not have stopped to think about the most common reasons for not working out, but fitness professionals are faced with them every day. Get the dirt about common fitness hurdles and how to beat them, direct from a personal trainer.

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    Excuses, Excuses

    From a fitness professional's perspective, you can almost always answer "Why do people not exercise?" with just one word: "Excuses." This might seem harsh, but if you shift from looking for problems to searching for solutions you can almost always find a way to work out. One of the first steps to turning fitness "can't" into "can" is recognizing that exercise doesn't have to mean going to the gym.

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    No Time

    Most adults have to juggle time commitments for work, sleep, eating and family togetherness. But lack of time doesn't have to be an answer to "Why do people not exercise?" Although the CDC's recommended 150 minutes of moderate cardio or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio every week might sound like a lot, that works out to just 15 to 30 minutes per weekday--a small enough investment in your continued well-being. Try some of the following solutions to scratch exercise time out of even the most crowded daily schedule:

    Work out early. Working out early eliminates excuses like "I'm too tired" or "I have too much to do." You'll start your day with extra energy and a feeling of accomplishment.

    Spread it out. If you don't have time for a full 30-minute workout, split your workouts into 10-minute segments sprinkled throughout the day. A brisk 10-minute walk before work, during your lunch hour and after work both meets the CDC's recommendations and helps keep your energy levels high throughout the day.

    Turn chores into exercise. If it makes your heart beat faster and leaves you sweating and slightly out of breath, it counts toward the CDC's recommendations for moderate exercise. So tackle chores like cleaning house or raking leaves with vigor: You'll get done faster get your exercise in at the same time.

    Exercise together. Instead of sitting in front of the television or going out for high-calorie food and drinks, turn time with family or friends into a walk, hike or physical activity like playing racquetball or going out to dance. If you have kids, involve them with your walks or play active games with them. According to Harvard Health Publications, if you weigh 185 lbs. a half-hour of vigorous play with your kids can burn 222 calories.

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    No Money

    A dollar can only stretch so many ways, so lack of money is one of the most legitimate answers for "Why do people not exercise?" But if you're determined, you can overcome this obstacle too. Here are a few possible solutions:

    Go for long walks. You don't have to join a gym or buy any special equipment except a sturdy pair of shoes. Best of all, you can walk anywhere: Climb stairs during your lunch hour, walk indoors at a mall, hike or stroll the city streets. It all counts as exercise.

    Create your own exercise equipment. Half-gallon and gallon milk jugs or water jugs make decent hand weights. Adjust their weight by partially or completely filling each jug with water, sand or cement. For heavier weights, fill 5-gallon buckets with sand or cement and use them for resistance during leg exercises like squats or lunges.

    Invest Wisely: Stretch what money you can spend on fitness equipment as far as possible. Instead of paying gym dues, invest in basic, relatively inexpensive equipment like a balance ball and dumbbell-sized barbells with weight plates and collars. The short bars work like adjustable dumbbells, letting you fine-tune your strength training at a fraction of the cost of a full dumbbell set or fancier adjustable dumbbells.

    Work at a gym: Some gyms allow you to work as little as four hours a week. Although you'll get some pay in return, you'll almost definitely get something even better: A free gym membership. And since you'll already be at the gym at least once a week, you might as well work out. Employment options include working as a fitness attendant, front-desk worker, cleaning attendant or child-care assistant.

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    Additional Reading