I don’t really want to go to the gym on the weekends. What can I do?

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Darren Treasure, PhD
Sports Medicine
There is nothing etched in stone that says that you have to go to the gym at the weekend or workout on a Saturday or Sunday. Instead of feeling guilty about not wanting to go to the gym at the weekend, think of creative and fun physical activities you can engage in on those days. Look to get to the park with your kids and spouse; go on a bike ride; take a walk in the park. It is important to remember that the goal here is to live a physically active lifestyle and enjoy the benefits of your efforts. It is not to become a slave to the gym and feel guilty when you don’t want to go. To this end, don’t forget that according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (CDC, 2008), adults 18- 64 years of age need to complete two types of physical activity each week to improve health, namely aerobic or cardio and muscle-strengthening. Adults need at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate-intensity cardio (i.e., brisk walking) or 75 minutes (1 ¼ hours) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week. Additionally, adults need to engage in muscle strengthening activities (i.e., lifting, body weight exercises) on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.  

Nowhere in the guidelines is there any reference to going to the gym on the weekend!!
That is really not an uncommon question.  A lot of people really don't like to go to the gym on the weekends.  Most of my clients like to get out and do things they just can't do during the week due to their schedule.  Several things you can do depending on where you live is hiking, mountain biking, roller blading or even swimming to name a few.  Or get involved in group sports like football, volleyball, tennis or softball leagues.  The possiblities are endless.  You just have to find things that interest you and keep you active, really the choice is yours.

Well, you can do just about anything that gets your heart pumping and burns calories.  The biggest thing you have to watch on the weekends is your “cheat days” when it comes to eating.  It is very easy to go out to dinner and eat 1-2 days worth of calories.  If you do this both Friday and Saturday nights, then you pretty much cancel out anything you did to lose weight during the week.  Instead, stick to your calorie budget and be sure to get in extra movement.  Make your exercise fun!  The weekends are a great time to do fun things like:

1. Go for a hike
2. Go canoeing
3. Go kayaking
4. Play football
5. Get friends together and go rollerblading
6. Walk the mall
7. Play tag with your kids
8. Go to the park
9. Throw a baseball around
10.  Ride a horse

Instead of going to the gym take the weekends to do other fun activities that you don’t have time to do during the week.  This way you are burning those extra calories with a smile on your face! 

You name it, and it can be done! There are countless ways to be active and have fun that will take not take you near a gym. Go for a walk, play Frisbee, walk the dogs, wash the car, clean the windows, go for a hike off the beaten path, ride a bike, swim, go window shopping at the biggest mall you can find, play catch, golf, play tennis, take dance lessons, go dancing, build something, start a garden, mow the lawn, lay sod if you do not have a lawn, help someone move, or rearrange the house. The possibilities are endless. Make a conscious effort to move regardless of what it is. Join an activity group, a sports team, browse the farmer’s market, attend a street fair, tour a museum, visit the zoo, or walk the botanical gardens. I bet there are a hundred cool things in your area that cost little to no money that you will wonder why you never checked them out before. Go have some fun.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.