Do you have a regular fitness routine, where you consistently hit the gym, walk, jog, do yoga, or some other form of exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3-5 times weekly? If so, bravo! You’re probably highly conscious of the benefits you get as a result─which include more energy, an efficient metabolism, toned muscles, a resilient immune system, stress reduction, a better mood, greater body confidence, and much more.

Given all those impressive rewards, why don’t more Americans emulate your example? Rather the opposite, in fact. A 2002 study found that while 62% of adults had a bit of physical activity in their leisure time, only 3 in 10 engaged in fitness regularly─defined in the study as light-to-moderate exercise at least five times a week for 30 minutes, or vigorous activity at least three times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes.

So, why don’t more of us make fitness a priority? There are obviously many reasons, but a few are so common, they’re worth addressing. It’s only by challenging these excuses that we can overcome them. Every problem has a solution, right? For example:

I’m too busy to work out

This may be the #1 excuse, which we can all relate to. So, what sets you apart from the over-scheduled CEO, full-time working mother, or beleaguered graduate student that manages to squeeze the fitness in? It may be a matter of mindset. Some people see exercise as well deserved “me-time,” and a valued stress buster, rather than a burden. They know it improves their lives. You can too! Take it on faith and start strolling with some good tunes on your iPod, and proceed from there. Seriously, the busier you are, the more you need this!

I have no energy for exercise

Of course you don’t, if you’re not doing it! Why? Because exercise itself energizes us. It may seem counterintuitive, but research suggests that sedentary folks who feel fatigued experience an immediate benefit from light-to-moderate exercise. One study(1) analyzed 70 previous studies on exercise and fatigue involving more than 6,800 people. Over 90% of the research revealed that sedentary people who began exercising regularly experienced more energy than those who did not. In fact, it was a surprisingly consistent effect. Go for it! It won’t take long for you to feel the benefits.

I hate working out

If you don’t adore exercise, take heart. Just as it takes some effort to find the perfect mate, job, or home, you need to find a form of fitness you can love. You know yourself best. If you’re a social creature, hikes with friends and family, or group fitness classes could work. Looking for more serenity? Yoga or Pilates may fit well. If you’re a lone wolf, walk, bike or jog solo. Maybe fitness videos at home are best. Need extra support? Invest in a personal trainer. A few sessions may be all you need to get launched confidently. You get the idea.

While there are many other real─or perceived─obstacles to fitness, the bottom line is that we all deserve to be healthy, energized and happy, not to mention sleek and toned! Even the mildest fitness efforts, if consistent, will reward you on multiple levels. And if you’re a parent, what a sterling example to set for your kids. C’mon, let’s do this!

1Psychol Bull. 2006 Nov;132(6):866-76.