Exercise Procrastination: Does it happen to you, too?

Yesterday, for the second time in a week, I was part of a conversation about exercise procrastination. 

Exercise procrastination is when you put off starting today’s exercise session.

So, this isn’t about people who don’t want to exercise, nor is it about people who are putting off starting an exercise program. This is about people who have an exercise habit but have trouble getting started on a given day.

I know that lots of people have no issue at all with fitting exercise into their schedule. For them, it’s automatic. There’s no need to convince themselves to get started, no ‘talking themselves into it’ and, from what I can tell from chatting with them, this whole post would make no sense to them at all.

But for everyone of those ‘just schedule a time and do it’ people, there are people like me who spend a lot of time convincing themselves to start moving.

I know that, for me, there are ADHD factors at play here. 

I have trouble with switching tasks and I struggle with task initiation. Both of those things make stopping what I am doing and then starting an exercise session a tricky proposition.

And, since it requires sustained concentration and effort, my brain treats a 30 minute exercise session like it is a HUGE task instead of a small part of my day.*

But I also know that, once I get moving, I really enjoy exercising.  It’s just that getting started is hard.

So, to lower the obstacles between me and exercise, I have two practices in place.

  1. I set a reminder for 10 minutes before I want to get started so I have some warning that I will have to switch tasks.
  2. I tell myself that I only HAVE to exercise for 10 minutes.

(Yes, apparently the number 10 is a big factor in my exercise plans.)

An image of an iPhone reminders   App screen.  Grey background with black text that lists reminders such as posting a Fit is a Feminist Issue post, working on a writing advice blog post, and a 10 minute exercise warning.
This is what my reminders end up looking like!

Most of the time, the 10 minute reminder is enough notice for my brain to get used to the idea of switching from one task to another, so that change doesn’t feel abrupt. And, ages ago, I figured out that once I am exercising for 10 minutes, I usually start to enjoy myself. 

Obviously, sometimes I start having fun right away but  sometimes it doesn’t seem fun at any point. I don’t necessarily stop when exercising isn’t fun but having the 10 minute escape hatch is still helpful. Knowing that I *can* stop in just 10 minutes makes it easier to get started. 

I still procrastinate when it comes to exercise but since I put those two practices in place, I do it far less.

How about you? 

Do you procrastinate about exercise?

How do you get past the procrastination and get moving?

*I’m not even going to get into the whole rigmarole that my brain puts me through with picking the ‘right’ time to exercise and the ‘right’ exercise to do, those things are outside the scope of this procrastination thing.

3 thoughts on “Exercise Procrastination: Does it happen to you, too?

  1. I love your timer idea! If I’m “planning” to run or do yoga midday and not first thing, I often put on my running bra and running socks (or part of my yoga clothes) with my regular clothes, to remind myself that I will be getting out of my chair and out onto the road or into the studio. Since I don’t like wearing exercise clothes, except to exercise, it’s pretty effective for me. As is signing up for a class! I hate wasting money on classes I don’t attend. So the financial incentive drives me to the workout.

  2. All the posts this week feel SO relatable.

    I exercise procrastinate all the time. I had “homework” from a running clinic I joined (specifically for some external motivation to move more) and I put it off until last night. The clinic is on Wednesday nights. I put it off because I wasn’t feeling 100%, then scheduling, then weather, then???? I have a mental block ESPECIALLY with running. And some kind of weird perfectionist thing where I think the exercise doesn’t count if I walk or if I can’t go as fast as I thought I should… Issues, I have them.

    Like you, I find that bargaining down to “10 minutes and see how it goes” works. Or I remind myself that “something is better than nothing”. If I can get started I’m good and yet I’m still my own worst enemy.

    No useful advice, just commiseration.

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