40 Things to Try When You Don't Want to Work Out

By , SparkPeople Blogger
We all have the days where we plan to work out and know that we should, but when it's time to lace up your shoes and go…You. Just. Don't. Wanna.
I have those days, too, but when I remind myself how GOOD exercise makes me feel, and how it will help me reach my goals, I generally suck it up and do it anyway. Getting started really is the hardest part. Once you get going, you're generally glad you did. And when it's over, you feel even better.
But some people have less willpower or dedication. Some give in to the temptation to skip exercise too easily. While that's fine once in a while, it can become a hard habit to break if you skip out on your workouts too often.
So recently, I polled members of SparkPeople.com, America's No. 1 fitness and healthy living community, asking what THEY do to motivate themselves when they don't feel like exercising. Let me tell you: These people are a creative bunch. The next time you feel less-than-enthusiastic about your upcoming exercise session, take their advice. Here are 40 things you can do (or think about) to get your workout motivation back—and get moving.
SparkPeople members answer: "When I don't feel like working out, I ___."
  1. Do it anyway. (This was the most popular answer!)
  2. Tell myself to go for 15 minutes. If I still feel bad or unmotivated, I can quit. I have yet to quit.
  3. Look on Pinterest for motivation! (Check out Pinterest's Fitness section and follow SparkPeople's Pinterest boards.)
  4. Ask a friend along to the workout it helps us both with accountability.
  5. Do a heavy house cleaning (vacuuming, moving furniture, scrubbing) so I have a reason to work out.
  6. Watch a Crossfit video on YouTube. It always inspires me. Then I get it done.
  7. Take a 10-minute brisk walk.
  8. Take the dog for a long walk.

  9. Force myself anyway and feel better for it.
  10. Go to a yoga class. It gets me moving, and I always have fun!
  11. I sit by myself for a few minutes and think about all the things I can't enjoy because of my poor health.
  12. Sometimes I find myself doing it just to get my fitness minutes for the month. Proof that SparkPeople works!
  13. Work out anyway…then bask in the awesomeness!
  14. Find something new to do! If you run then go for a swim or a bike ride. Maybe you are getting bored with the same routine.
  15. Complain about not feeling motivated, then go do it, since I don't like hearing myself complain.

  16. I drag myself to the gym anyway. Before I realize it, an hour is passed and I'm glad I went.
  17. Post about your lack of motivation on Facebook, and get chewed out.
  18. Do it anyway because this is for me.
  19. Try to force myself to just do something for 1 minute (jumping jacks, squats, etc.). But usually I tell myself I will be happier that I did it instead of mad at myself for not doing anything.
  20. Put on my work out clothes, lace up my shoes and go for a walk. Once I'm out and moving I find my motivation.
  21. Do a SparkPeople workout video! They are always great workouts and I love that they are not super hard and complicated!
  22. Remember a time when I couldn't work out, and how sad I was when I was heavier, and how I don't want to feel sad again!
  23. Listen to some music—something with energy that I like. It's funny how the right music can make you move even when you think you don't want to, and it usually provides a mood boost, too (which is probably why I didn't want to workout in the first place).

  24. Put my feelings aside and use logic and reasoning. My feelings then change after a good workout.
  25. Follow an "easy" DVD and tell myself I'll do just one part of it. I end up doing it all usually.
  26. Put on my workout clothes!
  27. Do a workout at home instead of going to the gym.
  28. Remind myself why I started working out and how much better I feel and feel about myself when I am done!

  29. Do it anyway, just not as long.
  30. Remember how easy it is to loss fitness even after missing a few sessions.
  31. Put on my workout clothes first thing in the morning. Once I'm in them there's no reason to not work out!
  32. Remind myself of one of Gods promises in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
  33. Think how good I feel after a workout! Nothing else gives me that same feeling!
  34. Go bowling.
  35. I go get my small weights and start toning up.
  36. Do something light and slow, like yoga.

  37. Start working out anyway, and then, I figure I've already started, so I may as well finish STRONG!
  38. Put on dance music and move!
  39. Call a friend to encourage me.
  40. Think of all the people who can't and I go do it and am grateful that I CAN.
There are a lot of things in life that we should do but don't always feel like doing. For many, exercise is one of those things. But the only way to make it a habit is to do it—consistently. So next time you don't feel like it, make like these strong-willed SparkPeople members and do it—or something—anyway. Just get yourself moving, even if it's light and easy, and even if it's only for a few minutes. You'll be glad you did!

How do YOU get motivated to exercise when you don't feel like it? Do you skip your workouts or "just do it" when you'd rather not? Tell us in the comments below!

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RYCGIRL 3/14/2018
thanks Report
REDROBIN47 3/6/2018
Sometimes there are valid reasons to skip a workout. Other times these are good things to do Report
These ideas all seems simple for someone not dealing with chronic pain and also in a walking boot due to a stress fracture in my non injured foot. I can't seem to catch a break right now and the tears won't stop falling because the pain is so severe. What do I do then? Report
NASFKAB 1/27/2018
Very helpful ideas Report
TERRI1458 1/16/2018
I always think of something small to start out with like walking in place. After I start walking then it motivates me to add some squats and lunges. Then I will add something else. After that sometimes I will add in a plank. If I'm on the floor then I might as well do some bridges and some leg lift. I might even do a few sit-ups. Then I might go into the kitchen and do some standing push-ups off of the countertop at an angle. By then I have at least a half hour work out in! Report
MBPP50 1/13/2018
Awesome! Report
thanks... Report
MICHELE1119 1/12/2018
at times i just need to honor my body and skip it , the next day I'm usually ready to go. Report
CECELW 1/12/2018
The hardest part for me is just starting. Once I start, I usually finish Report
JSIELKE1944 1/12/2018
If I need motivation, I go to Walmart, to remind myself if I don't work out, I could end up looking like the people there! Report
RHOOK20047 1/12/2018
Some great ideas! Report
tell myself 10 mins. If I start then I usually do the full workout. Report
CTYONIT 7/17/2017
git her done! Report
Just do it, just do it, just do it. Report
GETTHERE7 6/14/2017
I like the idea of just doing 10 minutes and then I'll usually get the motivation to continue for my whole workout. Lately I've found if I just don't wanna it's because I am starting to get sick. My problem is exercising when I should really not since I stay sick longer. (Right now recovering from flu symptoms and afraid to start up with my running routine too soon, too fast so the 10 minute idea is perfect) Report
TERRI1458 6/12/2017
My biggest problem is that I am an insomniac. Even on medication prescribed by the doctor, I have a hard time sleeping. Last week and today is a real problem for me. I did a 10-minute walk, today. I liked the reason about the music. Music makes me feel better no matter how tired I am. I also liked the comment "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me". I will use music and the verse. Report
RD03875 6/12/2017
Family funeral days are the hardest for me to try and get motivated. Report
SHOAPIE 6/11/2017
I can do it Report
RAZZOOZLE 6/11/2017
great article Report
CJS1MOMMY 6/11/2017
love these Report
REDROBIN47 6/10/2017
Love all this motivation. Just do it! Report
keep on going.... this is a new you.... Report
MARTHA324 6/10/2017
#1 for me....just do it! Report
RO2BENT 6/10/2017
Keep moving forward Report
NOMI_822 6/10/2017
I usually do it anyway or last ditch effort go work on yard work. Report
SLYDE-GLYDER 6/10/2017
If there is not a valid reason such as sickness or injury; I ask myself, "Is today the day I quit?" Report
FROSIA_EST 6/10/2017
Great list! My favorites are #1 and #40. :)
CCKELLY3 6/10/2017
I have different techniques, depending on why I'm having trouble working out.

I have fibromyalgia, and recently had surgery to repair a ruptured perineal tendon, so sometimes the pain or fatigue make the kind of endorphin-boosting cardio I love beyond my body's ability. For those days I've found that just getting myself to move in small segments, with breaks: like tidying the house, then doing a 5-minute yoga video for addressing inflexibility issues. By slowly building the activity, I can often ease the pain enough to either go for a slow walk, or take the bus to the YMCA & get in the pool, with the promise that I get to enjoy the whirlpool or steam room after.

If I'm feeling stressed or blue, then I pick the workout that's the most fun, regardless of it's "benefits" for my fitness or weight goals. I always give myself permission to stop, or change activities, if after 20-30 minutes ( my warmup curve) I'm working more than I'm having fun.

There's also the incremental steps technique. Give myself the permission to do each step towards a workout and stop: get workout clothes on. Stop. Set up ski machine. Stop... Turn on favorite workout dance mix. Get on the ski machine and stand there, not moving, for 1-2 songs. Do 5 minutes. Do 20 minutes.
The important part, for me, is that I HAVE to stop for 2-5 minutes and check in with myself after each incremental step, figure out how I feel, what's blocking me, what thoughts I'm having, etc. until I either really want to just do the workout, or I make a solid decision I'm not going to workout today. If I decide it's no, then I'm not allowed to to workout for the rest of the day, period, and I have to be very explicit as to why. Write it down, tape it up on the wall and face my reason.
Somehow, doing all this work usually is harder than doing the workout, and telling myself I can't do any workout today if I quit makes me feel this was all wasted. The few times I've actually quit are usually when I'm not feeling well, or I genuinely recognize my body is aching for rest, and I was blocking the signals, trying to force myself to do what I "should" do, instead of finding out what I truly need. 95% of the time, I get really eager to do the work, and feel better after.

Hope this helps others with ideas. Report
AZMOMXTWO 6/10/2017
I can use some of these and even if I could not I can find a way to at least go walking Report
BUSYGRANNY5 6/10/2017
Very motivational!!! Thanks!! Report
Saved this to my favorites to help with motivation when it wanes in my life! Report
HEDSTS58 6/10/2017
I watch the video in the Daily video that says "Find your Greatness" It always gets me going Report
LEANJEAN6 6/10/2017
Very inspiring Report
CHERYLHURT 6/10/2017
Thanks Report
Awesome list to have around to kick my butt into gear, thank you for the article. Report
JAMER123 6/10/2017
I am going to try some of these motivators and begin to work harder to break this plateau. Report
Great thanks Report
SUKI103 5/28/2017
Lately I decided I won't be a couch potato when I speak on the phone. This morning I had three phone calls and I walked around the house while talking on the phone. Not exactly a workout but not exactly doing nothing......... gets me moving. Report
EVILCECIL 4/22/2017
Thanks for the motivation - I need it! Report
When I don't feel like doing it is when I need it the most. I am an emotional eater, so when so ething throws me off kilter, for thebetter part of 60 years, I have turned to food. Daily exercise has helped my overall mood immensely, but when I am down, I HAVE to exercise. It gives me time to think, put things in perspective and keeps me out of the kitchen. Report
First thing I do every morning is pour a cup of coffee and read my Bible. It seems like once I sit that's all I want to do. Any ideas? Report
When I'm not feeling it, I just watch a workout video. I don't necessarily do the video, but I watch. That almost always motivates me to do at least a 10 minute HIIT workout. Report
I agree with the "put on the workout clothes" contingent. I change immediately when I get home from work, to get that obstacle out of the way. Being dressed makes a few squats or calf-raises possible while making dinner or packing lunches. I can also go up and down the stairs four times in a row when I have a minute or two between tasks--if I'm dressed. Then, gosh, I'm all dressed, and warmed up, and dinner will not be for another 30 mins--let's pick up the dumbbells and get that done!

It works. Report
Interesting points. Report
good list of ideas, a lot of repeats. saw "just do it anyway" repeated 5 times . That seems to work for people. Also "put on work out gear" showed up a couple times. I would put the list at 30 things with all the repeats. Report
These are great. For me the two that i use most are "just do it" and "I only need to walk for 10 minutes." I always do it and I always end up walking (or working out) for more than 10 minutes. Report
Music motivates me - put on my ear buds and listen to one of my workout playlists. Once I've set up my playlists, I look forward to listening to the music I've set up. I'm a joggerwalker! Report
Just this morning I was on my way to work but I didn't get hold of my workout buddy so I was debating not getting in my walk first but I reminded myself that if I don't do it in the morning it is highly likely that I won't get it done at all so I took my 35 minute walk; met up with another buddy once I was there and then afterwards heard from my usual buddy and we're going walking this afternoon too! Report
Wow, I've been going through just this all this past week. I skipped yesterday and was dreading going today, but having just read this article, it actually gave me some motivation; even if it's just the knowledge that I'm not the only one who struggles with this! Report
Will do and thanks for the inspirational article. Report
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