Hate to Exercise? How to Love it With 3 Decisions

By Lisa Kimrey | Maintain Wellness


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 right decisions.


Exercise. Yeah, yeah everyone should be less sedentary. You know that >52% of the adults >18 years old don’t get enough exercise. You are one (me too).

And you want to do it.

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 but you know you need to get moving?

Perhaps, it’s less about liking to exercise, and more about finding an activity that you enjoy doing.


Remember Having Fun as a Kid?

Ok, first call up your memories of going to the gym in your youth.

What, you can’t?

No, you didn’t forget. Youths disguise exercise as having fun!


  • Sports
  • 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 (just me?)
  • Climbing up the ladder in the hay mound (ok, maybe just me again?)
  • Just having fun and clowning around

What about with your family? Do anything on vacation? Maybe:

  • Surf
  • Ride on a boogie board
  • Swim
  • Snorkle
  • Scuba dive
  • Ride horses
  • Hike
  • Climb up rocks
  • Climb trees

Okay, so, think about every kind of mobile activity that you did.

Write them down. I’ll wait.

Now, think about those memories and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Which of the activities was my favorite(s)?
  2. Why?
  3. Was I more involved and satisfied in team sports and activities or the independent activities?
  4. What did I enjoy most about those activities?
  5. 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:

  1. Can I still physically do that activity now?
  2. What if in a modified way?
  3. How about 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 and sticking to an exercise!

Decision #1 – Select an activity to have fun and enjoy vs. to get exercise


2 Tips to Make Exercise Even More Awesome

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 sounds silly, right?

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:

  1. Only when I’m alone, with another person/friend or when I am in a group of strangers?
  2. With quiet, loud or no music?
  3. When an instructor is encouraging me to work harder?
  4. Or do I prefer setting my own goals & pace?

Do I like:

  1. Progressing slowly or quickly?
  2. Competition?

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.

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


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.

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.

Every. Time.

Decision #3 – Be kind to yourself. Make goal #1 uber easy. Then, continue to be realistic with goals (And don’t compare your journey to another’s journey!)

To sum it all 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.

Stop hating to exercise 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!

I want to know and cheer you on! Send me an email!




About the Author

Lisa has been an RN for 25 years and has a passion for helping people make healthy choices & build healthy habits related to self-care. Check out Lisa's free tip sheet "10 Ways to Save Money on Healthcare"!