7 reasons you might not be exercising (and how to overcome them)


4 minutes

19 December 2021

A young man and woman taking a rest from exercise at the beach

An exercise physiologist shares a few ideas to help you get moving more – and enjoying it.

Staying active is important for good health, supporting both your mind and body.1

But getting into (and sticking with) a new exercise routine isn’t always easy. From being low on time to feeling low in energy, things can get in the way.

HBF Health Services Coordinator and Exercise Physiologist Sarah Penter shares a few ideas for overcoming these common barriers and making exercise an enjoyable part of your life.

In this article

1. “I don’t have time”

If you feel like exercise is just one more thing to fit into your already busy life, you’re not alone. Almost 4 in 10 Australian adults say this is the main barrier to taking part in regular physical activity.2

To overcome this, Penter suggests trying to adjust your mindset from seeing exercise as a chore, to seeing it as something you’re doing for yourself.

“Schedule exercise like you would any other important appointment,” she says. “Block the time out in your calendar and prioritise the time to do something for yourself.”

This might mean starting small by splitting up a 30-minute session into two or three smaller blocks. Any movement you can reasonably fit into your schedule can add up and give you benefits.

2. “I don’t know what I’m doing”

Not sure what exercises to do, or how to do them? There are lots of way you can find support and guidance – whether it’s seeing a personal trainer, following online videos, or just asking friends and family.

“If you’re new to the gym, schedule a gym induction or a one-off personal training session to become familiar with the equipment,” Penter says.

“Or you could go with a friend who has been and might be able to show you around.”

3. “I don’t enjoy exercise”

If you haven’t enjoyed exercise much in the past, it may just be that you haven’t found an activity you like yet.

“Exercise doesn’t just mean joining a gym or going for a run,” Penter says. “It can be a social activity like dancing, playing a round of golf or simply walking with a friend.

“Exercising with a friend or family member can help make exercising fun and something you look forward to, rather than dread.” 

You might want to try a few different activities – bike riding, bushwalking, rollerblading, dance classes, aerobics, yoga, Pilates, swimming, tennis, rock climbing, to name a few ideas – and see what you find enjoyable. 

4. “I have a health condition, injury or mobility issue”

Your health and mobility are important considerations in what types and amount of exercise will be appropriate for you.

“If you’re unsure what is considered safe, or if you have an ongoing injury/health condition seek support from a health professional,” Penter advises.

“An exercise physiologist can be a great place to get started and to ensure you are on the right track.”

HBF extras cover can give you benefits towards exercise physiology, depending on your level of cover.

5. “I can’t afford the gym or expensive programs”

Gyms can be fantastic, but they’re not the only way to exercise.

There are lots of cheap or free ways to get active – from YouTube videos, to local community groups to just getting outdoors.

“Coming into the warmer months especially, outdoor activities like swimming, walking, jogging, cycling or a recreational team sport can be an affordable way to get active,” Penter says.

6. “I don’t have the energy”

Rest is important, and there will be times when the best thing to do is give yourself time to recharge.

But exercise can also boost your energy levels, as well as helping you sleep better and feel happier and more relaxed.1

“It can be tough to find the energy to exercise, however, when we do, we are often left feeling more energised afterwards,” Penter says.

“My dad once told me, ‘To get energy, you must use energy.’ As an exercise physiologist, that has always resonated with me.”

7. “I’m too unfit – I don’t want to exercise in public”

“It’s not uncommon for people to feel insecure about exercising, but everyone starts somewhere,” Penter says.

“If the thought of exercising in public is daunting, why not find a buddy to exercise with to make it more enjoyable?

“Getting started is often the most difficult part, but once you do and you feel the benefits, I can almost guarantee that you will not want to stop.”

How can health insurance help?

HBF extras insurance can include cover for a few services that may support your exercise goals, such as:

  • Physiotherapy. From aches and pains to mobility issues and injuries, physio can help treat a wide range of physical conditions.
  • Exercise physiology. Get support for managing, treating or preventing chronic illness or injury through exercise.
  • Remedial massage. Recover with soft tissue manipulation that can help treat injuries or illness.
  • Dietetics. Get personalised advice on healthy eating to support your exercise goals and overall health.

If you’re an HBF member, you can check what you're covered for by logging on to myHBF or calling us on 133 423.

Extras cover to keep you moving

With benefits for physio, remedial massage, dietetics and more, HBF extras can help support your wellbeing.

Find out more


  1. 1Heart Foundation – Benefits of physical activity for your heart
  2. 2Australian Institute of Health and Wellness – Physical activity across the life stages (2018)


This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.