We all have our reasons for not working out. Some are legit -- we're working late or nursing an injury -- but often we're just talking ourselves out of exercising. "We make excuses to reduce what's called cognitive dissonance," says Dan Kirschenbaum, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Medical School. "If we are committed to exercise and yet don't do it, the excuse allows us to feel less dissonance, or discomfort."
That's not to say you're lazy; it's a normal response. The secret to countering it? Get into the habit of working out. When you do that, your brain flips a switch and develops a "healthy obsession," which makes you want to get moving, Kirschenbaum explains. Until then, here's how to overcome your top four gym deterrents (as revealed in a Health.com poll). No matter what your psyche throws at you, we have you covered.
The Excuse: I'm too pooped.
The Reality: It's the number-one reason you blow off workouts. Know this, though: Studies have shown that regular physical activity can improve energy. If you don't believe it, commit to a week of exercise and see if you notice a difference.
Of course, for many of us who work out in the morning, simply getting ourselves out of bed is the issue. If that's you, download the Sleep Cycle alarm clock app. Then place your phone on an upper corner of your mattress and set the app's alarm for a 30-minute window; your iPhone's built-in accelerometer measures your subtle movements, and the app wakes you when you're in your lightest sleep phase, when you're most rested and ready to get active.
Prefer working out at the end of the day (when your circadian rhythms want you to chill)? Enlist an exercise buddy -- it'll make it harder to skip the gym.
The Excuse: There aren't enough hours in the day.
The Reality: You're busy, for sure. But the time is there, insists Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. "If you work 50 hours a week and sleep eight hours a night, that leaves 62 hours for other things," she says. And the American Heart Association says 75 minutes of vigorous exercise is all you need to squeeze in each week to improve your health.
To find pockets of unused time, keep a 24-hour log of one weekday and one weekend day. You'll quickly see where you can slip in mini chunks of exercise. "Most people find they could take a 30-minute walk over their lunch hour," Vanderkam says.
The Excuse: I don't want to redo my hair and makeup.
The Reality: You can take care of post-workout primping in five minutes flat with this regimen from Paige Padgett, green beauty expert and Jillian Michaels's makeup artist. Give your sweaty spots a once-over with an antibacterial wipe, and do the same on your face, using an all-in-one cleansing pad. Next, apply a beauty balm, which is similar to a tinted moisturizer, but with the added benefits of a primer and blemish control ointment. Touch up mascara and use a three-in-one color stick to add shimmer to eyes, cheeks, and lips. Finally, apply a little dry shampoo to the crown of your head to freshen up your hair, and you're done.
The Excuse: Exercise makes me eat more.
The Reality: Actually, if you work out at a moderate-to-vigorous level (think a brisk walk), a shift in hormones may help suppress your appetite immediately post-workout. In a recent study, researchers at Brigham Young University showed images of food to women who had just finished a 45-minute morning workout. Their neural response to the food was less than it was on non-exercise days. The researchers also found that women did not eat more on the workout day to make up for calories burned.
The key? Eat a snack right after your workout, says Stella L. Volpe, Ph.D., chair of the department of nutrition sciences at Drexel University. Aim for a 150- to 200-calorie mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. It'll keep you feeling full so you don't eat back all those calories you just burned off.
Need some tips on how to move more? Try out some of these ideas!
Stand At The Bar
Rather than nursing a drink sitting down, belly up to the bar, or grab dinner at a high table with bar stools. <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20534367_4,00.html" target="_hplink">Leaning against a high stool</a> is a step up from sitting, but can be more comfy than standing all night, <em>Health</em> magazine reported.
This old-timey favorite is fun for kids and adults alike, and can burn 100 calories in just 30 minutes. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/machineisorganic/6740536715/" target="_hplink">Machine is Organic</a></em>
Take A Swim
You don't have to be Michael Phelps to get a water workout. Even some leisurely splashing around can shave off 200 calories, and it's a great way to stay cool in the heat, too! <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/311692139/" target="_hplink">Joe Shlabotnik</a></em>
Build A Sand Castle
Instead of just lounging on the sand working on your tan, get up and move around if you're at the beach this weekend. Bonus: Digging in the sand can be a surprisingly <a href="http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/great-summer-workouts?page=3" target="_hplink">good workout for abs and obliques</a>. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/donhomer/7200149722/" target="_hplink">Michael Bentley</a></em>
Let the music move you when you're out on Saturday night. A little boogying can burn 150 calories in just 30 minutes.
Throw A Frisbee
You're not chained to that park bench! If you're already enjoying the outdoors, why not throw around a Frisbee or a football, pass a volleyball or kick a soccer ball? It doesn't have to be strenuous -- you don't even have to be any good! -- but it will get you up and moving. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/458811240/" target="_hplink">Elvert Barnes</a></em>
Go On An Exercise Date
If you've got a date night planned this weekend, skip dinner and a movie in favor of something that gets you off your rears. It doesn't have to be a trip to the gym or a jog -- it can be anything active you like doing together. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/78428166@N00/7283892652/" target="_hplink">Tobyotter</a></em>
Row A Boat
Many local parks, rivers and lakes have row boats, canoes or kayaks available for rent. No matter your vessel of choice, it's a fun, seasonal way to burn some serious calories. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/inner-eye-photo/6849944748/" target="_hplink">Josh Hawley</a></em>
During the busy week, you sometimes might just let your pet out in the backyard to dig up his own trouble. This weekend, spend a little extra time moving with him. Play fetch, give him that much-needed belly rub or take him on an extra-long walk. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/footloosiety/4255290603/" target="_hplink">footloosiety</a></em>
Catch Up On A Walk
If you've made plans to meet a friend for coffee, take your catch up session to-go instead and gab on a walk. Even strolling at a snail's pace will burn 85 calories in 30 minutes!
Play Bar Games
Put down the drink for some foosball or pool if you're at a bar this weekend that offers it. Thirty minutes of pool can shave off 85 calories, not to mention you may save yourself a few if your hands aren't wrapped tightly around that pint glass. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/15216811@N06/5842783313/" target="_hplink">Nicola since 1972</a></em>
Take A Hike
Head for the hills! Depending on where you live, a hike can be a weekend expedition or a quick afternoon adventure. It's a change of scenery and a great way to spend some time outdoors. If you're feeling sporty enough to tackle some hills, you can burn almost 250 calories in just 30 minutes. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/4104101152/" target="_hplink">mikebaird</a></em>
If you typically find yourself hailing a taxi on the weekends, try hoofing it instead. If your destination is too far to make it on foot, try public transportation -- and leave the seat for someone else. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tmab2003/3180940701/" target="_hplink">TMAB2003</a></em>
Play Lawn Games
If you have plans to barbecue this weekend, break out the lawn games to get you out of your seat. Try <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/27/lawn-games-calorie-counts-memorial-day-_n_1546462.html" target="_hplink">croquet</a> or badminton, which can burn more than 150 calories in 30 minutes. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jessabc/5835828281/" target="_hplink">Jessa B.C.</a></em>
Go Window Shopping
Those people who do their exercise walking around the mall are onto something. Whether or not you plan to buy anything, browsing around your favorite shopping center gets you moving -- especially if you decide to wiggle in and out of a few things in the dressing room. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimmyharris/2774384836/" target="_hplink">jimmyharris</a></em>
Visit A Museum
Spend some time strolling through the halls and galleries of your favorite museum. You'll give your brain a workout while you're at it!
Get Takeout Instead Of Delivery
Pick your favorite nearby joint and walk to pick up your meal.
Wash The Car
Sure, it might take a little longer than sitting through the drive-thru, but you get the pleasure of working those muscles a little bit.
Instead of sitting at a restaurant waiting to be served, why not whip something up at home? You'll be on your feet slicing, chopping, mixing and more, not to mention cleaning up after yourself. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/janicecullivan/4262146921/" target="_hplink">mamaloco</a></em>
Plant A Garden
A number of <a href="http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/lawn_garden/home_gardening/vegetables/Variety+Of+Vegetables+Can+Be+Planted+In+Late+Summer.htm" target="_hplink">fall veggies</a> are ready for planting now. Spending an hour digging, crouching, weeding and planting in your garden <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/24/memorial-day-chores-calories_n_1543691.html#slide=1018494" target="_hplink">can burn more than 300 calories</a>. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/7682623@N02/7343305940/" target="_hplink">auntjojo</a></em>
Take A Bike Ride
You don't have be imitate the Tour de France! Even the most casual rides can burn 200 calories an hour. Don't own a bike? Many cities now have <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2011-05-08-bike-sharing-programs_n.htm" target="_hplink">bike share programs</a> that allow you to take a short spin for a small fee, and some parks have bikes available for rent, too. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chinny_chin_chin00/6137088467/" target="_hplink">machernucha</a></em>
Play Laser Tag
Go old-school, and grab a group of friends to head to the nearest <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/make-fitness-fun_n_1465840.html#slide=921050" target="_hplink">laser tag</a> arena. You'll run, jump, squat, crawl -- all in the name of fun and (healthy) competition. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnzlea/324447996/" target="_hplink">shawnzrossi</a></em>
Go Rock Climbing
With the increase in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/03/sports/the-sport-of-bouldering-climbs-in-popularity.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">popularity of bouldering</a>, you no longer need a load of gear (and experience!) to reap the fitness benefits of rock climbing. Try it out at a local gym -- you'll burn calories and seriously work those arm muscles. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/toolmantim/6728078909/" target="_hplink">toolmantim</a></em>
It's not just for dads in bowling shirts! Grab a pair of nerdy-chic shoes and aim straight. You may even wiggle a little arm workout out of it! <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/junklab/68904368/" target="_hplink">junklab</a></em>
Start A Wii Fit Competition
Dreaming of a couch-potato weekend? Turn that screen time into something more productive by challenging a roommate, spouse or kid to a Wii Fit boxing or tennis match. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sashawolff/3190273060/" target="_hplink">SashaW</a></em>
"The Worst 4 Excuses For Not Working Out" originally appeared on Health.com
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