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Exercise won’t solve all your problems, but there aren’t many it won’t ease. If you are in early recovery, forming new habits like daily exercising reduces your odds of early relapse. Exercise can help you get and stay clean/sober and improve you physical and mental health. So if you’re not already exercising as much as you should – what are you waiting for?!

Well, if you don’t exercise like you should, the odds are good that you use one or more of the following 7 excuses/obstacles as justification for not getting up off the couch.

Fortunately, your justifications probably aren’t accurate. In reality, there’s likely little stopping you from enjoying better health and wellness - and great protection from relapse. Read on for easy solutions to 7 common excuses for insufficient daily activity.1

Solved! - Seven Common Exercise Obstacles...

I'm too Busy - I Have No Time for Exercise

What with going to recovery meetings and treatment sessions, working for a living and rebuilding an entire life, who has time for frivolous exercise?

Answer – it’s important so you make time.

  • Even 10 minutes of brisk exercise can boost your mood. Try a quick walk or jog before breakfast.
  • If you have time to watch TV in the evening you can probably spare a bit of that time to exercise.
  • Try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, so it doesn’t take much extra time. For example, if you take the bus to work, get off a couple of stops early and walk the last stretch in. It won’t take very much extra time and it can get you to work in a good mood. Or, when you park to do your grocery shopping, drive intentionally to the farthest end of the loT.

I Hate Sports

Just because you got sober doesn’t mean you turned into some super jock all of a sudden…why should you start now with something you hate?

Answer – If you look, you’ll find something you enjoy, or at least don’t mind overly.

  • Physical activity doesn’t require a gym membership, spandex or participation on a sports team. If memories of school gym class gives you nightmares, remember that anything that gets your heart rate up for a sustained period counts as exercise.
  • Try using part of your commute as an opportunity for extra walking or cycling.

I'm Embarrassed

You struggle with shyness and anxiety and the idea of going to the gym or out jogging in sports clothes fills you with dread.

Answer - Whether you’re self conscious about your body or about the way you look when exercising, embarrassment should never keep you from enjoying all the serious benefits of regular exercise. If you feel shy about getting active, remember:

  • Most people aren’t paying as much attention to you as you think they are.
  • You don’t have to go beyond your comfort level – you can start with a brisk walk around the park.

I Have Physical Limitations (Pain, Disability, etc.)

Exercise might be fun for some people, but when you live with chronic pain or disability, exercise just sounds like extra pain.

Answer - Though physical limitations may prevent your participation in some types of activities, they probably don’t preclude your participation in all types:

  • Talk to your doctor about what types of physical exercise are appropriate for you.
  • Consider water-based activities – these can be gentle and very beneficial.

Remember, that in addition to boosting physiological health, exercise and increased muscle tone and flexibility almost always reduce pain and disability.

I Have to Take Care of Family Members

Sure you’d love to go for a leisurely hike or ride along the river, but when you’re responsible for children or elderly relatives it’s like you’re shackled to the house.


  • Talk to other members of your family to ask for support. Exercise is important and you need to find some time for it.
  • If you can’t get out on your own, consider exercising with those in your charge – from the youngest child to the most elderly senior, most people love to get out and see the world.

I'm too Tired

To avoid relapse, you’re not supposed to get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired, right (H.A.L.T)?

Answers: Though it can be tough to get up and get started, remind yourself that exercise actually increases energy levels. You will feel more energetic after exercising than you do before it.

  • Try to exercise at a time of day when you’re most energetic.
  • If you have trouble getting started and it seems like too much, just tell yourself that you’ll only do a small amount. For example, you’ll only walk for a quarter mile. In most cases, once past the inertia preventing you from getting started, you’ll feel fine and continue on with your full routine…it’s just a matter of getting up and getting started!

I Just Hate Exercise

Isn’t life in recovery supposed to be better? How come I have to do things I hate now?


  • There are so many ways to get active, you can’t hate all of them. Make an effort to try out some new activities – go sailing, go skateboarding, go horseback riding!
  • Combine exercising with getting out into nature or into a pleasant environment that you enjoy.
  • Remember that though exercise can seem unpleasant at first, before you get used to it, most people come to really enjoy physical activity.

Force Yourself... Later You’ll Enjoy It!

In truth, if you really hate physical activity, then it might take you a while to enjoy exercise (though you’ll enjoy the benefits of exercise right away). Not to worry though, keep at it and you’ll find that it gets easier and more enjoyable in time, and after a month or two (or three) of regular activity, you’ll have developed a habit that can keep you healthy and happy for a lifetime.2

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Page last updated Jun 15, 2022

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