5 exercise excuses and how to beat them

Not exercising? These simple strategies might give you the push you need

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Get pumped about getting fit

Does the thought of exercising prompt an obstacle course of excuses to pop into your head? If your mind is sabo­taging your fitness regimen, it's time to dump all the reasons why you can't exercise and embrace the reasons why you can. (And as someone once said, if "no time" is your excuse, beware: You'll end up with plenty of time to be sick.)

Here's expert advice to elim­in­ate five common excuses for avoiding physical activity.

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Exercise excuse: "I'm too busy to work out"

Late nights at the office, a new baby or tending to ill parents can derail an exercise plan.

Beat the excuse: Angela Marshall, a life and weight-loss coach from Saskatoon, says the "no time for exercise" excuse is easy to overcome. You just have to examine it from a new perspective. "If someone offered you $100,000 to commit to exercise, would you do it?" she asks. "If you said yes, then you can fit it in-you've just chosen not to." It's also worth noting that you don't have to complete hour-long workout sessions each day to reap healthy benefits. Ten-minute bursts of walking, stair climbing or squats performed several times throughout the week can help you sleep more soundly, think more clearly and feel happier.

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Exercise excuse: "I don't know where to start"

Kettlebells, hot yoga, Zumba classes? The number of fitness options is overwhelming.

Beat the excuse: To break free of exercise bewilderment, Lisa Workman, a fitness trainer and Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology-certified exercise physiologist, recommends that you meet with a certified personal trainer at a gym you are interested in joining. "Have the trainer walk you around the fitness centre to get you oriented," says Workman, who counsels clients of all ages in Edmonton on the importance of healthy exercise. Trainers will introduce you to the classes and equipment, and offer advice on activities that are best suited to your fitness level and interests. They can even offer suggestions on workout shoes and clothing.

Also, consider your local YWCA or com­munity centre; they may offer free passes to their facilities so you can try their programs and equipment without making a huge financial commitment up front. And it's always a great idea to ask your friends what activities or classes they enjoy. Maybe you can tag along-and gain a fitness buddy in the process!

If you would prefer to exercise at home, there are workout DVDs and smartphone apps on the market that are affordable, easy to understand and perfect for beginners. Workman recommends Leslie Sansone's Walk at Home DVDs for people starting to exercise. For iPhone users, the Nike Training Club app has programs and videos suitable for both beginners and advanced exercisers.

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Exercise excuse: "I'm so out of shape that if I join a gym I'll look terrible compared to the other women"

The fear that you'll appear clumsy or jiggly next to super-fit gals can turn the gym into a no-go zone.

Beat the excuse: Workman suggests visiting the gym or yoga studio for a tour to observe who is working out there. You may discover that you have more in common with them than you thought. Workman says her clients tell her, "I look like these people; I'm not that different from them." And most people in the middle of a Pilates session or a treadmill run are too busy thinking about what they're doing to notice your trouble spots.

"We think the rest of the world is evaluating us like we're evaluating ourselves," says Kim Sogge, an Ottawa-based clinical health psychologist. "But the focus of other people is not on us." Once you let go of self-criticism, you can zero in on the positive reasons for hitting the gym, such as adopting a healthy lifestyle and feeling invigorated.

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Exercise excuse: "I try exercise, but my weight won't budge"

Many women abandon exercise when results don't materialize on the scale.

Beat the excuse: Losing weight should not be your exercise goal. In most cases, relying on exercise to shed pounds is a losing battle unless you are also committed to a healthy restricted-calorie diet. (Try our Weight-Loss Meal Plan) Instead, concentrate on the amazing health benefits that exercise delivers, such as improved blood pressure, increased stamina and a lower risk of diabetes. You'll have a toned body, and the more muscle mass you have, the faster you'll burn calories-and those endorphins will make you feel great. "Exercise makes a difference. But some of the benefits you're just not able to see," says Workman. Marshall agrees: "You're giving yourself energy, strength and health. Exercise is a way to connect to your body, and make your health and happiness a priority."

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Exercise excuse: "I can't afford a gym or a personal trainer"

A Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute study found that 18 percent of Canadians don't exercise because of its perceived expense.

Beat the excuse: "There are free and low-cost options," says Workman. Borrow workout DVDs from your public library, watch videos on YouTube, or take up walking or running for fitness-all you really need for those is a pair of shoes. If you want to join a gym, save money by asking for one free month, and then try to negotiate a discount; it doesn't hurt to ask.

If your heart is set on a personal trainer, pool your finances with your friends and hire one as a group. "Small-group training is becoming quite the trend," says Workman. "If you can't afford the $70-$90 an hour cost, pull in two to four other people to join you. You'll get an hour with an exercise professional and a lot of bang for your buck."

To find a qualified fitness professional near you, Workman recommends the websites of the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and Idea Fitness Connect (enter "Canada" in the "Search by Location" box and then click on your province to be able to search by city). You can review your trainer's credentials on the Canfitpro website.

Related:
6 ways you're sabotaging your fitness goals
10 cheap fitness tools and how to use them
Why group fitness will make you fitter