If you have had a hard time making exercise a habit, take heart. You aren’t alone. Although activity levels are up across the country many of us still aren’t active enough, if at all. We know we should, but excuses just keep getting in the way. Use these excuse busters the next time you feel tempted to cop out on the couch instead of lace up those sneakers for some fitness and fun.

I’m too busy

RocksThe bottom line is that we all make time for priorities. Steven Covey illustrates this very point with his big rocks exercise. In the exercise the participant is given a large container along with several big rocks and many, many small rocks. Her task is to make everything fit into the container. First she places all the small rocks in the container and tries to make room for the big rocks on top. Try as she might all the rocks will not fit. Suddenly, it dawns on her to put all the big rocks in the container first and then pour in the small rocks. Everything fit perfectly.

To make exercise a priority designated it a big rock and put it in your time bucket first. If there isn’t enough room you will have to remove and replace small rocks until exercise fits. Here are some ideas:

  • Skip or shorten Netflix marathon viewing. If the very idea of less TV sends you into panic mode, try watching on the treadmill or setting up a cardio circuit in your living room so you can exercise without missing your favorite show.
  • Practice getting up 10 or 15 minutes earlier each week. Use that time to exercise. Try adding 5 minutes each week. Before you know it you’ll be able to get in 30 minutes every morning.
  • Exercise in small bursts. If you can’t find 30 minutes in one chunk, try for two or three exercise sessions throughout the day.
  • Alter your commute. Walk or bike to work.

Exercise doesn’t do any good if I’m not great

Track Power WalkingYou don’t have to be a stellar athlete to embrace exercise. So you don’t know all the steps in Zumba, maybe you walk the slowest mile or always lose at tennis. That’s ok – get out there anyway. Your body doesn’t care. It will still reap the benefits of being active.

I don’t have the right body

Whether you are older, overweight, have knee or back pain or arthritis, you can still enjoy being active. In fact, moderate exercise just a few times a week has been proven to ease arthritis and back pain. If you have knee pain, consider wearing a brace for support. Try thinking outside the box too. Low impact exercise such as walking, swimming, yoga and Tai Chi are appropriate for all ages and weights and even with some injuries.

Exercise is too hard

It takes time to build stamina and strength. The key to sticking with exercise is to adjust your expectations. If you can’t walk a mile walk a block and build from there. You will never get where you hope to go if you never even start.

I don’t have the right gear

It seems like every celebrity has a fitness line these days. Here’s a secret – cute fitness gear is nice but not necessary. You can exercise in anything that feels comfortable. You don’t have to run out and buy something new or name brand.

Don’t let excuses derail your fitness goals. Make a plan that includes exercise as a priority. Have the kids join in if finding childcare is a challenge. You can do this.