Exercise for People Who Hate Exercise: Ten ideas to help you stay motivated to move

Photo courtesy of Super Fun Activities club.

Exercising is an unwanted chore to the majority of people. It requires a lot of motivation and mental perseverance to even get in the mindset of exercising, especially if it’s been a while. Personally, I stopped exercising at a gym at the start of COVID and have had a difficult time getting back there. I still go to play racquetball, but even those occurrences have diminished.

To anyone in a similar frame of mind, exercising (or the thought of exercising), will not be fun. That aside, it’s important to remember exercising can be a lot of fun – there’s the release of those happy-go-lucky endorphins and the sense of accomplishment that comes upon completing a run or a rep or a set (what have you), and those are feelings that can’t be bought. Taking the first step toward a regular exercise routine won’t be easy, but just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Take the first step and soon you’ll take the second and in time you’ll discover there is a heap of rewards waiting for you.

If you hate exercise the way I hate exercise, here are some ideas to make exercising fun, and ways to trick yourself into a workout.

  • Make a list of three exercise skills you would like to learn like ice skating, the backstroke, and dare I say, burpees. This attainable goal will give you something to strive for throughout the year. More exercises can be added once those are mastered.
  • Similarly, pick at least one exercise to do each day. It doesn’t need to be anything crazy and you can start small like doing 20 jumping jacks or going for a jog around the block. Remember that even 30 seconds of planned exercise is better than none.
  • Park your car further away so you have to take more steps to your destination. A bonus of this trick is the backs of parking lots usually don’t have many cars, so it’s easy to get in and out.
  • Reward yourself! Make a point system (ex: one point for every day you exercise, one point for every exercise you complete that day, two points for trying something new, etc). Make the goal attainable and pamper yourself with a massage or a tasty treat once you reach it.
  • Get a friend involved. I prefer to work out by myself, but an exercise buddy can push you and help you stay motivated.
  • Try a sport. Super Fun Activities Club is a great, no-pressure way to play a sport. The competition level isn’t as high as other adult leagues. Their goal is to get people active, meet new individuals, and have fun in the process.
  • Stretch. It’s not the most fun thing in the world, but I find my body feels so much better after a quick stretch. Staying limber(ish) is important.
  • Take the stairs whenever possible. It may be difficult at first, but you’ll build up a tolerance. Plus, you won’t be stuck in an elevator with people, which can often feel uncomfortable for an introvert.
  • Dance like you don’t care if anyone is watching. Dancing involves a lot of quick movements that will get your heart rate up. Play some music you love and go to town!
  • Highlight your successes. Don’t dwell on your failures. We all have good days and bad days. Just do what you can to make the next day better.