Exercise is a waste of precious time – six excuses to put in the wastebin

A recent survey reports that 1 in 5 Brits don’t exercise at all. More than 2000 people were questioned about their attitudes toward exercise by charity Arthritis Research UK, with 75% saying they wished they exercised more than once a week and just 53% saying they do. 

The top three reasons for putting off exercise? Not having the time (33%), feeling tired (32%) and cold weather (28%). So what’s your excuse?

It’s hard when we’re juggling work, family and numerous other things beside, to make exercise a priority. There always seems to be something more important to do. That’s when the excuses (what we pretend are valid reasons!) start coming out.

Here are a few of the most common excuses for not exercising – and why you should relegate them to the dustbin….

Excuse no 1: I have too much on at work.

tired desk womanActually studies and experience, show we work far more efficiently if we make time in our day for exercise.

Maybe it’s the extra blood flow to the brain, or the chance to escape from the noise, screens and interruptions. Or maybe it’s the blast of fresh air and endorphins. But when we get back to our desk, the evidence is, we do work that bit better.

What’s more, going out for a walk or run – or putting the step machine through its paces – gives us some head space. Enough to work through a difficult problem, prioritise our actions for the day, and spend some time in ‘blue-sky’ creative thinking.

So – not a waste of time at all!

Excuse no 2: Other people need my attention – I can’t be selfish.

If you don’t look after yourself, you can’t be there for others. So being selfish is actually quite the opposite in this case.

When you make the time to exercise, you feel more refreshed and healthy – and more able to give time and energy to others who need you.

Even better, exercise together and everyone benefits. A win:win.

Excuse no 3: It doesn’t burn that many calories anyway – so what’s the point.

man fitness tired excusesIt’s true, it can take 15 minutes or more to burn off the calories from a single doughnut…but there are other benefits too.

Building muscle means you burn more calories in the long-term, even just sitting still! It also helps women look more toned – while, for men, the extra testosterone helps bulk up and define the muscles too.

Plus exercise boosts the conversion of white fat cells into brown,  which burn rather than store energy – another reason why exercise helps us burn off calories faster, even when our workout is done.

Exercise also releases our happy hormones (endorphins). And the mental kick you get from your workout can encourage you to make healthier choices for the rest of the day.

Excuse no 4: I can’t find my exercise stuff.

A favourite excuse commonly used to put off an early morning workout.

Again, the remedy is simple. Instead of all that half-hearted fumbling for your clothes when it’s barely light – lay out your stuff the night before and your excuse will disappear along with the morning mist.

Excuse no 5: I’ll do it later once these deadlines are out of the way.

Yeah, right – we don’t believe that any more than you do. There’s always something else comes along that gives us another excuse to put off the exercise.

Go back to excuse no 1. Prioritise exercise over work (put it in your diary!), and you will manage those deadlines more effectively and get healthier at the same time.

Excuse no 6: I’ll catch my death in this weather.

woman hiking winterAnother favourite excuse to avoid winter exercise – but be honest, how often is the weather that bad? Once you’re out there, you may even find you warm to the winter conditions.

Your excuse looks even weaker when you consider the benefits of exercising in the cold. Chilly conditions give an even further boost to that conversion of white fat cells into brown – which burn energy in an attempt to keep us warm (shivering has the same effect).

What’s more exercising outdoors raises your exposure to natural daylight and boosts vitamin D in the body, both which can be lacking in winter.

This all works to raise our mood over the dark winter months, adding to the lift from those extra endorphins when we exercise. Even more encouragement to make healthy choices!

And lastly, exercising outdoors puts a healthy glow in your cheeks and a spring in your step – better than any beauty product on the shelves!

No excuses, new active you

So now we’ve put those excuses in the dustbin, it’s time to get back on track with your fitness goals.

Without those pesky excuses to drag you back, you can continue in your goals with a clearer and stronger sense of purpose. clear and uncluttered mind. Which should be just the exercise boost you need!

Want to find out more about improving your health or weight or need support to make those changes happen? Check out our on-line programmes. Or if you’re trying to improve your fitness and need a challenge to work to join our 10kAnyWay programme. Suitable for anyone from couch potato to honed athlete!


Chen Y, C et al. Measurement of human brown adipose tissue volume and activity using anatomic MR imaging and functional MR imaging. J Nucl Med. Sept 2013.

Lee P et al. Feb Irisin and FGF21 are cold-induced endocrine activators of brown fat function in humans. Metab. 2014.

Norton S. What’s the deal on Vitamin D. http://www.vavistalife.com/whats-the-deal-on-vitamin-d/

Thompson Coon, J et al. Does Participating in Physical Activity in Outdoor Natural Environments Have a Greater Effect on Physical and Mental Wellbeing than Physical Activity Indoors? A Systematic Review. Environmental Science & Technology, 4 Feb 2011.

Vidoni E D et al. Dose-Response of Aerobic Exercise on Cognition: A Community-Based, Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial. PLoS ONE 2015.

Voss MW, Nagamatsu LS, Liu-Ambrose T, Kramer AF. Exercise, brain, and cognition across the life span. J Appl Physiol 2011.