How to Stop Being Lazy and Exercise: 20 Tips for When You Have No Motivation

Exercise is one of those things that you know you need to do but often push to the back burner. Call it a lack of time or just being lazy, but it can be hard to start (or continue) exercise, even when you know you should. Today it’s time to have the tough talk about how to stop being lazy and exercise.

So what’s the best way to stop being lazy and EXERCISE? As you would expect, there are some common themes with the basic topic of how to stop being lazy, but I’ve got a few very specific tips to share here.

woman stretching with white overlay and text how to stop being lazy and exercise

This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. You can see my disclaimer here. This post is not to be taken as medical advice. Consult your doctor before beginning any fitness routine.

I’ve been on a quest to lose weight for a LONG time, but it wasn’t until this year that I finally got serious about it. Even so, there have been days when I just couldn’t find the motivation to exercise, and it basically boiled down to one thing: I needed to figure out how to stop being lazy and exercise.

I had every excuse in the book to avoid exercise, and in all honesty, a lot of them were legitimate.

My friend passed away unexpectedly. We almost moved (and then didn’t). Then we actually moved and the packing (and unpacking) began. Then I was spending up to four HOURS a day in the car shuttling my kids all around the countryside. And then there were days when my anxiety was just too crippling to even think about going to a gym.

It was exhausting (both the excuses and reality) and I was just plain tired.

Sound familiar?

How to Find Motivation to Exercise When You’re Tired

According to health experts, one of the benefits of exercise is that it gives you more energy.

Even though I hoped they were wrong, I realized that the experts were right. I always felt more energized after exercising, even if it was a grueling strength training session at the gym.

But although exercise gives you more energy, it’s starting your routine (or finding the motivation to exercise) that’s the most difficult.

So, if you’re exhausted from dealing with your kids, the laundry, or whatever life has thrown at you lately, these things will help you find the motivation to exercise, even if you’re tired.

Get more sleep

Sounds simple, right? Try going to bed a little earlier each night.

Also, to get better quality of sleep, avoid anything that might keep you up at night, like coffee or alcohol.

Prepare ahead of time

Part of getting ready ahead of time means creating a solid morning routine that allows for time to exercise, in addition to finishing all the other tasks before you start your day.

If you’re struggling to stick to a morning routine or always find yourself running late, try these tricks to get ready to exercise faster – no excuses!

  • Lay out your exercise clothes the night before (or sleep in them) so it’s one less thing to think about in the morning.
  • Program your coffee maker to brew your coffee 15 minutes before you have to leave. I’ve actually been late to my class because the coffee maker took too long, so remove the excuse by getting a programmable coffee maker and setting it the night before. This Ninja Coffee Bar is my favorite because it brews different sizes, so you can program it to brew into your favorite travel mug.
  • Fill your water bottle the night before. I’ve also been late because filling my water bottle (and finding it and putting on the lid) took too long. Before you go to bed, or even as you put away the dishes, fill your water bottle for the next day and put it in the fridge.
prepared workout gear athletic shoes and black water bottle on white background

Take a shower after you exercise

Whether you bribe yourself with a shower or just rearrange your schedule so you’re not making another excuse for avoiding the gym, plan to take a shower after you exercise.

This will relax you after your workout, or you can even let someone else watch your kids while you shower if your gym has a childcare.

Make unbreakable plans to exercise

Whether you hire a personal trainer, tell someone at your gym, or hire a babysitter, making an unbreakable promise to exercise will help ensure that you actually do it.

You could even try calling someone on your way to exercise.

Meet a friend

Similar to making an unbreakable promise to exercise, meeting a friend at the gym or at a park is the perfect way to make sure you follow through with your exercise plans. It’s also a great way to spend time with your friend.

Assign money to your exercise goals

Hit yourself where it hurts. If your fitness goals are tied to your budget, you’ll be more likely to “feel the pain” if you miss a workout.

Pay for a class ahead of time. Many gyms and fitness classes offer “punch cards” so you can buy several classes for a cheaper rate if you pay ahead.

Buy an annual gym membership and figure out your per-use cost. For example, I need to go to the gym twice a week in order to justify the cost of having a membership instead of paying for each class at a non-member price.

If you need regular reminders, pay monthly so you see the membership “reminder” in your bank account.

There are also goal-setting apps that require you to pay every time you skip a workout, don’t meet your goals, etc.

Join a challenge

Whether you start a “maintain don’t gain” challenge with family during the holidays, participate in a weight loss bracket during March Madness, or join a challenge that encourages daily activity, like Noom (paid) or MyFitnessPal (free), there are many different options for exercise and weight loss challenges.

The best challenges require your activity to increase slightly each day, so it feels manageable but still encouraging.

Change your expectations

If you’ve been exercising and have gotten disheartened or if you just can’t find the motivation to do what you think you “ought” to do, change your expectations of your workout.

Instead of going to the gym for an hour (and then talking yourself out of it), plan to go for 10 or 20 minutes. Chances are, you’ll stay longer, but at least you’re giving yourself permission to leave.

Change your routine

Inspire yourself to exercise by trying something totally different. Instead of walking on the treadmill (again), try taking a class or walking outside. Or, instead of using the machines at the gym, learn how to use free weights.

Reward yourself

Choose something you love to do, like reading a great book or getting coffee from your favorite cafe, and ONLY allow yourself to do it if you exercise.

You can even use rewards while you exercise by listening to an audiobook on the treadmill or walking to the nearest Panera with a friend.

Get creative with your rewards! For example, if you have young kids, your local YMCA may have walking trails nearby. Drop the kids off at the Y’s childcare, go for a walk, and treat yourself on the way back.

woman conquering laziness and exercising on beach at sunrise

What To Do When You’re Too Lazy to Exercise

Luckily for you, on those days when you do miss a workout, there are little tricks to squeeze “exercise” into your day, even if you don’t go to a gym or break a sweat to your favorite workout video.

If you’re too lazy to workout in the traditional sense, these easy hacks will help you squeeze more fitness into your day.

Track your steps and activity

Just by tracking your daily steps and activity, you’ll be able to see how much activity you get each day. You may be surprised by the amount of steps that you get each day. But if not, challenge yourself to increase your steps a little each day.

Using something as simple and pretty as this Erin Condren Designer Petite Planner Wellness Bundle can make a big difference in motivation and how you feel about tracking your efforts and success.

Set a timer to walk around for 10 minutes each hour

If you sit for work or spend most of the day inactive, a timer can help remind you to stay active.

If you have a Fitbit, set an hourly reminder in the app. Your wristband will vibrate if you haven’t taken 250 steps each hour during the day. You can track your activity and even set health goals (with reminders) in the Fitbit Versa app.

If you don’t have a Fitbit, consider setting a timer on your phone or on a Pomodoro or time management app to remind you to take a stretch break.

Pace when you’re on the phone

Multitask when you talk on the phone.

If you’re home, use this opportunity to fold laundry, dust, or do other simple household chores. If you’re at work or another location, walk around.

Depending on the length of your phone call, you may be surprised by the amount of steps you get. I manage to get over 1,000 steps every time I talk to my mom, and even more when I talk to my chatty brother. ?

Stand to fold the laundry

Try folding laundry on a higher surface, like a bed or on top of your washing machine or dryer. This will force you to stand and get more movement as you reach.

However, even if you fold your laundry directly into baskets or on a lower surface, stand.

To get even more steps, put away the laundry as soon as you finish folding.

Do squats in the shower

As you rinse your hair or just stand under the water, do three sets of squats.

Squats (and other leg exercises) increase your heart rate faster because they focus on a large group of muscles. This also means that they’re a wonderful full-body workout that burns more calories.

Walk your kids to practice

I used to drop my son at the gate for his football practice and then watch him walk to the field, but once I started walking him to the field, I realized that it was an easy way to get an extra 1,000 steps.

Also, instead of sitting in the car and waiting for practice to end, I started walking during practice to get extra exercise if I arrived early. This is also a great way to meet and get to know other parents if they join you on your walk!

Park farther away from your destination

Parking just a few rows away from where you’d normally park is a great way to get more steps. Walk quickly and focus on good posture to get even more “exercise” benefits.

Do your own grocery shopping

Kroger Pickup, Instacart and Shipt grocery delivery, and even Amazon have made grocery shopping almost obsolete.

However, while these shopping services can be great time savers, they also mean that you get to sit on your couch while shopping instead of actually leaving your home and getting exercise.

Challenge yourself to walk quickly through the store, go down extra aisles (just don’t let junk food tempt you), or run to put the cart away (make sure you watch for cars).

Go for a walk at lunch

Have a walking meeting or plan to walk and socialize with a coworker during lunch.

Especially if you sit for long periods during the day, walking and getting fresh air is a great way to relieve stress and take a stretch break.

If you work from home or are a stay-at-home-mom, use this as your chance to collect laundry from each room, dust the house, or spend 15-30 minutes doing an odd chore, like washing windows or vacuuming the furniture in the living room.

Change your diet

Changing your diet is the fastest way to feel better and get into the right mindset to conquer being too lazy to exercise!

Like trying to break any long-standing habit, changing your diet can be difficult.

The easiest way to change your diet is to make small modifications. Even cutting your daily dose of coffee creamer in half or replacing your sandwich with a salad at lunch can be helpful.

With more energy from a healthier diet, working out feels so much easier.

More Help to Beat Laziness and Procrastination

5 Ways Overwhelmed Overthinkers Can Beat Procrastination

10 Tiny Tasks for Easy Wins {When You Feel Too Lazy to Move}

Change the Habit of Laziness With These 3 Real-Life Tips

Stop Thinking and Start Doing: A Goal Setting Starter Plan

If you’ve been struggling to exercise (or get off the couch), try one of these tricks. If it doesn’t work for you, try something else until you find the perfect motivational hack that works for you for how to stop being lazy and start working out!

Finding simple ways to motivate yourself or squeezing exercise into the margins of your day can be great ways to increase your exercise, even when you’re feeling lazy.

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