Healthy Life

Time to get off the couch! This Global Move for Health Day is your chance to overcome some of those common excuses for not exercising.

The health benefits of exercise are undisputed. According to the Mediclinic Health Library, a person who exercises regularly has a 45% lower chance of developing heart disease than an inactive person. Exercise also helps to control your blood pressure and blood sugar, lose weight, improve muscle tone and flexibility, manage stress, anxiety, and depression, and enhance your overall sense of wellbeing.

In addition, it lowers your risk of stroke, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

But exercising needs commitment from you. Carlo Jacobs, a biokineticist at Mediclinic Panorama, suggests easy ways to challenge five common excuses that people use to justify their sedentary lifestyle.

1. “I don’t have time”

If this is your go-to excuse, Jacobs suggests you restructure or plan your day. Remember that exercise is integral to your wellbeing, so use this as motivation to include it in your daily routine. “Make it a habit/lifestyle that happens every day and understand that any amount of time is better than nothing. Even if it’s five minutes at a time, it’s more beneficial than no minutes at all,” he explains. “Choose exercises that you can do anywhere and that don’t need equipment, perfect weather conditions, or a particular space, such as a gym. That way you can structure your exercise programme around your normal, busy day.”

2. “I’m not motivated”

Exercise should be a combination of motivation and discipline. “You need to find what drives you and the reason behind your motivation (goals). Over time, discipline is what will maintain consistency on the days when you’re not motivated to exercise,” explains Jacobs. “It’s helpful to remember why you started. Did you have a specific goal or was your intention to improve your wellbeing generally? Look at what you want to achieve and set realistic goals to achieve it, no matter how small or big they may be. It’s also important to do things you enjoy – try cycling in a group, take a dance class, experiment with running or hiking. Exercise is not a punishment and should be fun.”

3. “I’m too tired”

“Try to understand what’s causing your tiredness, then aim to use exercise to help overcome it. Reframe exercise as an energy booster rather than an energy sapper. Remember that exercise can help with tiredness and can give you a new zest and energy to overcome that lethargic feeling.”

4. “I don’t know where to start”

“Everyone is different, so focus on doing something you will enjoy. Start small with a fun activity like dancing, moving, or stretching; then focus on what you want to achieve,” advises Jacobs. “The hardest thing is getting started, so focus on a movement like a ‘sit-to-stand' for 5-10 attempts. To do this:

  • Sit in a stable chair with your feet apart and hold your hands together in front of your chest.
  • Without using your hands, push through your feet to stand, and hold this position before sitting down again.
  • Repeat as prescribed or desired.

“Once you achieve this, it’s a step in the right direction and an achievement that’ll motivate you to do more. It’s important that you make exercise a habit and lifestyle and choose something realistic that you can do every day. You’ll notice your wellbeing improve steadily as you stick with it.”

5. “I’ve hurt myself before”

Before you begin, Jacobs advises consulting a healthcare professional, such as a biokineticist, physiotherapist, or chiropractor. “Do not do the same thing that injured you before,” he warns. “With the help of a professional, you can plan and structure a realistic programme that allows you to overcome the injury, trust the process, and commit to the plan. Start small and find room to improve each day.”

Ready to start exercising? Find a Mediclinic biokineticist here.

Medically reviewed by