How To Exercise When You Don’t Like Exercise

I don’t think there’s any argument that exercise is good for you.

I’m grateful that I’m someone who enjoys exercise and definitely feels the effects of not being able to work at full capacity for two months. I enjoy trying new ways to sweat and I’ve made it part of my career by working as a personal trainer. I have lots of friends who are either instructors or passionate about fitness themselves, so surrounding myself around them sometimes gives me the warped view that everyone LOVES FITNESS.

I had the idea for this post after hearing twice in one day that some people simply don’t like exercise. One was from a client who told me that he liked me, but still didn’t like exercising with me. The other was from my husband who, despite having access to a fitness center in our building, simply isn’t able to go downstairs and use it.

Since I crave and enjoy exercise, it’s sometimes hard for me to comprehend what people WOULDN’T like about it. For those people, these tips are for you.

There's lots of advice on how to work out, but what if you actually don't like exercise? Here are some helpful tips to get you moving!

Minimize obstacles

Sometimes, the more steps it takes to work out, the easier it is to become dissuaded. Signing up for a gym membership away from your house means that you will either have to walk or take some sort of transportation to get there. If the weather is less than ideal or you don’t have the extra commute time to get there one day, the likelihood of making the trip decreases.

While I had to wear my boot for my stress fracture, I cut back exercising to about two days a week. I could have kept it higher by doing low impact workouts like swimming, but for me the thought of putting on a suit, cap, goggles, showering, then being left with everything wet stressed me out too much and swimming lost all its appeal. This is with an indoor pool in my building.

For people who don’t like exercise, keep obstacles at a minimum. The best way to do that is to set up a home gym or at least have some equipment in your home so that there’s no excuse. There are tons of resources for workouts you can do at home as well as online videos to guide you through a routine right in your living room.

Find something you like (or tolerate)

A lot of fitness advice says that the workout you will continue to do will be one you like, and it’s true. For those who don’t like anything, however, this can be tricky. In those cases I’d say go with the workout you hate the least so that it’s still somewhat tolerable. 🙂

Set small goals

If you don’t like exercise, the thought of jumping on a treadmill for 30 minutes or suddenly working out five days a week sounds horrible. Just like anyone starting out on an exercise journey, it’s important to keep your goals small and expectations reasonable.

Set small goals such as walking on a treadmill on an incline for 5 or 10 minutes. Try to work out once a week. As you start to make it more of a habit, increase your duration and the number of times you are active during the week. Focus on what you can do right now and not what you think you should do.

Find your why

For me, sometimes when I think about exercise as something I should do, it’s not as enjoyable. It feels like a chore — a part of getting older. I like to think about exercise as something I GET to do, a fact that I’m more easily reminded of when I can’t due to an injury. I think about the fact that I’m getting stronger and I can do more than I could a month previously. I think about it as something that will help keep me in good health.

Everyone’s “why” is different, but try and think about a reason that motivates you rather than disincentives you.

Just start

Even for people who enjoy exercise, sometimes the hardest part is just starting. There are some days when I wake up early and don’t want to get out of bed for a 6 am workout. Some days I listen, but most days I wait a couple minutes and then get myself out of bed. There has never been a workout that I’ve regretted getting up and doing.

Pay someone

This is the case with at least one of my clients. He is able to do all the moves and doesn’t technically need me with him to exercise, but is self-aware enough to know that without hiring me as a trainer and having a monetary accountability factor, he simply won’t do it on his own.

There’s no shame in understanding that you’re not going to be motivated enough to work out on your own. If you need to hire a trainer just so that you can get yourself moving, by all means do!

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8 Comments

  1. November 1, 2017 / 9:01 am

    All of those are really good tips. I do like exercise, but there are certain types I don’t like. However I used to not like weight lifting, but I started to do a little here and there, and now I really like doing weights as an alternative to a hard cardio workout. It’s amazing how having a friend to do a workout with can make it so much more enjoyable too!
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  2. November 1, 2017 / 11:29 am

    I’m in the same boat as you. I just don’t understand how some people don’t, but I DO understand that learning to love exercise comes with time. I love exercise and make it a priority in my life, but it hasn’t always been that way. For me, exercise is good for my body, but it’s also imperative for my mind, which is a huge driving factor for me to get out of bed when my alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m. It’s also a huge reason why I’ve decided to run my first half-marathon in March. I KNOW how much of a mental struggle it’ll be, but I’ve got to do it for myself. This is a great post!
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  3. November 2, 2017 / 9:35 am

    I’m sending this to my husband LOL. He hates exercise and I CANNOT understand it 🙂
    I think these are great tips! Even though I DO enjoy exercising and trying new workouts, I don’t love how difficult it is to find the time or having to force myself to the gym when I would rather spend my coveted free time with my family. Hence why, as my son gets older, I plan to get creative and let fitness be something we all do together, whether it’s hiking, biking, playing soccer in our yard, etc.

  4. November 2, 2017 / 12:28 pm

    This is really good advice. I definitely sometimes live in a bubble of following bloggers and other people who love exercise. Then I have my co workers who remind me not everyone loves exercise. One piece of advice I give to others is to try new workouts if they can. I know you do not like yoga and have tried it a few times in the past, but what I tell people when it comes to group classes is to try different instructors as maybe one will motivate you more. I know for me, while I love zumba, I realized after moving that I loved zumba because of a certain instructor I had and as I went to other classes, I just didn’t have as much fun. Just like in school when the teacher can make all the difference in a subject you dislike, same goes for workout classes. The hardest part, as you mentioned, is just to start.
    Alicia @Bridges Through Life recently posted…Currently November 2017My Profile

  5. November 2, 2017 / 7:00 pm

    This is a good post. I think the hardest part for people is to start (because once you’re in a routine, you don’t give it much mental capacity anymore, but making the decision these first few times to actually go, is hard)… and then often people think they have to do “x” instead of finding something that they truly enjoy. (I know I was guilty of that for a while).
    San recently posted…2: Thinking Out Loud #10My Profile

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