Hate to exercise? Ok, try this: Imagine you are in your favorite place. You are happy. The aromas make you smile.
Friendly faces around you grin back.
The pleasant sounds in the background are relaxing. You feel comfortable – not too hot or cold. You’re having fun and laughing. Soon you notice a faint taste of salt. Then, you remember you’re exercising.
There are only 5 more minutes left, and man, are you bummed!
Seriously, wouldn’t you like this to be you?
It can be with the 3 right decisions.
I suspect you already know that over half of adults >18 years old don’t get enough exercise. You probably are one (I was one too).
And I also think that you want to exercise.
Sometimes in the right mood, you can even pretend to like to exercise.
But, what if you hate to exercise in a bad, bad way (Maybe you hate exercise as much as you hate vegetables?) but you know you need to get moving?
Well, perhaps, it’s less about liking to exercise, and more about finding an activity that you enjoy doing.
1. Remember Having Fun as a Kid?
First, call up your memories of going to the gym in your youth.
What? Can’t you remember?
No, you didn’t forget.
Youths disguise exercise as having fun!
- Doing things while hanging out with friends
- Playing tag or other games
- After school events
- Seasonal activities like swimming in lakes or sledding
- Climbing on rocks
- Running on the beach
- Playing hide and seek in the cornfield (or is this one just me?)
- Climbing up the ladder in the hay mound (ok, maybe just me again?)
- Just having fun and clowning around
What about doing fun things with your family? Do anything on vacation? Maybe:
- Ride on a boogie board
- Scuba dive
- Ride horses
- Climb up rocks
- Climb trees
Okay – good news. All of those activities count as exercise! So, think about every kind of moving activity that you did.
Write them down.
Ok, secondly, think about those memories and ask yourself these questions:
- Which of these activities were my favorite(s)?
- Was I more involved and satisfied in team sports and activities or independent activities?
- What did I enjoy most about those activities?
- How did those activities make me feel and do those memories still elicit those feelings?
Now take the list of activities, answers, and thoughts or emotions and choose your top 3 favorites.
Now ask: Can I still physically do that activity now? (How about in a modified way or on a less vigorous level?)
With a little adaptation, you CAN find ways to do many of the things that you genuinely enjoyed in the past.
Finding something that you enjoy doing is the key to starting, sticking to, and loving an exercise!
Decision #1 – If you hate to exercise, select an activity to have fun and enjoy vs. to just to exercise
Second, Two Tips to Make Exercise Even More Awesome
The one thing to remember above all is there is more to exercise than just…well exercising.
It should also be a form of stress relief.
But to obtain relief from stress, you need to do things that reduce your tension, not increase it.
That might sound silly.
But, it’s not-it’s crucial to enjoying what you are doing and continuing to do it.
Ask yourself these questions.
Do I find stress relief:
- Only when I’m alone, with another person/friend or when I am in a group of strangers?
- With quiet, loud or no music?
- When an instructor is encouraging me to work harder?
- Or do I prefer setting my own goals & pace?
Do I like:
- Progressing slowly or quickly?
If you know that being in a room full of strangers with loud music in the background and a leader yelling at you to pedal faster will give you stress (and not the motivation to do better), then that exercise is not a good fit for you right now. For example, a group cycling class isn’t a good first pick.
On the other hand, if the thought of learning ballet dancing with a private teacher sounds like heaven, do that. Dance lessons count as exercise.
To stick with it, choose something you enjoy and will be your stress reliever…not stress causer.
Decision #2 – Be honest with yourself about what is enjoyable and what is just another source of stress if you hate to exercise.
Exercise Can Start Small. Tiny. Even Minuscule.
If you are not active now, and you have never been a regular mobile person, expecting to train for a full marathon next month is a bit unrealistic.
And has a high failure risk. So just start moving by doing something you like. Or at least do something you don’t hate.
Like walking. Most people can start by taking a short walk around the block.
But, if you find running to be something that you enjoy and relieves your stress, then start!
Just start small.
Aim for running a few minutes, 2-3 times a week. After a week or two of running at that pace, go for more extended time periods.
A few weeks later maybe then start to train for a 5K.
Then, after you complete the 5K, slowly progress towards a larger goal.
This method creates an early win. Whatever the exercise or movement – you have to start with a quick win. Even 10 minutes a day has great success!
And then, celebrate your first win. Don’t look at anyone else and compare your first win to someone else’s middle or end win.
Comparison kills your joy.
Decision #3 – Be kind to yourself. If you hate to exercise, make exercise goal #1 super easy. Then, continue to be realistic with goals (And don’t compare your journey to another person’s journey!)
To sum up, exercising for wellness is about finding an activity that you enjoy AND also fits in well with your personality, abilities, and lifestyle preferences. These tips will help you find activities you enjoy and then help you stick to a regular exercise schedule.
If you hate to exercise, change that by making your first decision now. If you haven’t made your list of activities from your youth, do it right this second. Heck, you might even remember something you miss doing!