Why I don’t exercise

My kids will tell you that when they were in college I would often call to see how they were doing.  Did I ask about classes and studies?  Nope.  How about friends and dates?  Heaven forbid.  School sports? You are kidding, right? No, if you polled my children, they will tell you I said, “Are you getting enough exercise?”

Why this odd question?  Because I firmly believe that if you do not take care of your body, than you cannot take care of your mind.  Success in life springs from physical wellness and while that has a lot to do with what you eat and drink, it has everything to do with regular exercise.  Now, I hope, my patients will tell you that I ask them the same question, because physical activity is vital for them.  Exercise prevents or delays almost every medical problem and being in shape, along with ongoing physical activity, is vital for recovery.  I must ask this question at least occasionally, because it occurs to me that in response I have heard every excuse in a very thick book.

The basic retort is that “I am too tired.”  This one burns my buns. Of course, you’re too tired, you don’t exercise! This is like a man who complains that the car doesn’t run because he hasn’t filled the tank.  Exercise takes away fatigue, and if you do not exercise, you will be tired.  With exercise, the quality of life is stronger and brighter.  You sleep better and deeper, you are calmer, and you are more focused, you eat better.  In addition, I do not believe that short of absolute exhaustion, your body cannot move through a simple routine such as walking, jogging or biking. It is never too late or early in the day to exercise.

“The weather is too cold.”  “The weather is too hot.” “Too wet.”  “ Too dry.”  Sand storms and petulance.  These reasons not to exercise pretty much cover every occasion because everyday has some sort of weather.  The problem is that your body does not care.  Your gut does not check the weather and say, “gee, it’s raining, I guess I won’t get fat today.”  Every day you do not exercise, you lose opportunity, you lose strength, you lose endurance; in short you lose.  As an average husband who hates to shop, I have found a great use for Shopping Malls on terrible weather days … Walk!   Weather forced you inside? You can buy a treadmill or stationary bike cheap, but I am of the belief they do not work unless actually used.

“I get bored when I exercise. “ Well, I have to admit, some days that is true. Like brushing our teeth, washing our cloths or cleaning house, tasks we have to repeat everyday can sometimes lack excitement.  On those days I ask myself,  “this is boring, but would I rather be bored for 40 minutes exercising or bored for years sitting in a wheelchair after a stroke.”  We fool ourselves when we think we have a choice.  We do not.  Exercise or become decrepit, frail and die.

“I am too busy. “ To which I answer, “No, you are not.”  To be too busy means that you have made the choice to fill your days with non exercise activities.  Now, sometimes it is true that overwhelming demands of life suck up all of your time, but that is not true all the time.  In almost everyone’s life, there are 30-45 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week (that is as little as 0.9% of each week) that you can take to exercise. When we say we are too busy we are making a decision and it is a decision that our bodies will never forgive.

Recently this whole issue was made clear by the honest and accurate excuse of a 58-year-old woman being treated for heart disease, diabetes, and degenerative arthritis and is now seeing me for early stage breast cancer.  She explained convincingly that she could not possibly exercise because, and I quote,  “I have so many doctor visits, I don’t have time to exercise.”   Enough said.  Turn off that computer and go for a jog.


  • Love this piece and the various excuses. The only thing I would add, is that exercise need not be more than a brisk 30 minute walk a day to get many, if not most, of the health benefits, from what I have read. All the more reason for no excuses!
  • Over the past 2-1/2 years, I have lost 30 pounds. I am feeling much better about myself, but I also know that when I am good about getting out to walk or going to the gym, I feel even better. I've been in a slump since starting back to work full-time. Thanks for the reminder.
  • Jack
    Great post,which reminds me of a Insurance company commercial currently running in Boston. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2JSWgkwRL4
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  • Pat Fleming,L.P.N.
    Thankyou for your wonderful blog. I am 68 yrs old and although i do not do the traditional exercise,i stay very active.I am an insulin dependent diabetic since 2001 and i work very hard to keep my glucose readings within normal limits.I watch what i eat and even though i am pleasingly plump (lol),it is not from lack of trying to lose weight.It is like the old saying "You snooze,you lose".I am constantly on the go and as a nurse,i am always helping to care for other elderly residents in my complex who are not as lucky as i to have the mobility to get about.I consider myself a young 68.Life goes by very quickly and i will continue to do everything within my power to stay active so i do not end up in a wheel chair. Regardless of my past health issues,i refuse to sit on a pity pot and let LIFE pass me by.You need to grab that brass ring while you still can."Don't Blink" or you lose the moment.Age is a number BUT it's our choice how we deal with it.

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