Are you having trouble motivating yourself to exercise? Don't worry, here are some great ideas that will make it seem more fun.
Exercise is good for a number of things. First of all is the fact that it gives your body amazing contours in the places you want them. The other reason is that it helps you keep healthy and fit when it is properly done.
The prospect of grunting under the weight of a barbell or feeling exhausted from the aftermath of doing squats can make you shudder when you hear the word exercise.
Even the best of us need plenty of motivation to help us keep up with the demands of exercising, so if you do not like exercise, you're not alone. Here's how to get motivated and make it fun. First we'll cover mindset, which is actually what helped me more than anything else. Then we'll cover enjoyable ways to exercise if you hate to work out.
Mindset to continually keep motivated to exercise
The most important thing to realize is that exercise is truly helping your health in a big way, even if you don't feel or notice it at the time. This was the one thing that made the biggest difference for me.
Invisible improvements are happening even if you don't feel different
It's all about realizing the invisible things that are making the most difference, such as a healthier blood pressure and improved cardiovascular ability (see reference 1). You won't often notice these differences yourself in your everyday life, but they're definitely there. This is something you might discover if you measure your heart rate in the long term, for example before beginning an exercise program and a few months after sticking to it. In my case, I noticed that my heart rate while walking fast on a treadmill or elliptical was much lower than it used to be a few months ago! That is what finally got me motivated to continue with the exercise program instead of giving up like I had so many times before. So rest assured the exercise is really making a difference, even if you don't immediately notice it yourself.
So anytime you do an exercise routine, be confident in knowing it's a win for health. Once you put it like that, it's easy to feel like a winner! You can win every day you exercise. For example, when I run, and if I get a personal worst time, I realize even if I've lost the race against my personal times, I can still chalk it up as a win for my health. So even if you lose, you win! It's that simple.
Don't get discouraged by a bad exercise session - you're on the path to success
Another part of the mindset is something that athletes instinctively understand but that others often don't: it's to accept that a personal worst (of run time, or of weight lifted etc) is going to happen on the road to a personal best. It means you need to stay determined and not give up at the first sign of things going badly. This is all a normal part of the road to success in exercising.
So if you have a bad session of exercise, don't think of it as a setback: think of it instead as an investment in a future personal best.
Exercise is rejuvenating even if it doesn't feel like it at the time
Another thing to think about is that adding up all the physical and mental benefits of exercise, it increases your chances of living a longer and healthier life (see reference 1). Besides medical information such as the reference just mentioned, I once happened to see an article about women who were running beyond middle age - well into their 60's. They showed a photo of these women and I was amazed to notice that they all looked at least 10 years younger than their actual age!
So another way to motivate yourself to exercise is to think of it as a rejuvenation treatment. It's better than anything any spa can do.
Be truly aware that your workout gives you all of these benefits
To sum up the mindset section, it's crucial to think of exercise as all of the following:
- a win for health every time that you do it
- an investment in your ability to improve
- a rejuvenation treatment
Fun ways to exercise
Let's move onto some ways to work out that are actually fun. You don't need to stick with a grueling mind-numbing routine. Instead try any of these fun exercises:
- Walking with a friend
- Hula hoops while dancing to music
- Rollerblading, roller skating, skateboarding
- Sports with a friend (shoot some hoops)
- Take a class - yoga, dance, kickboxing
- Find at home workouts on YouTube
- Ride a bike
- Running group near you
Any of these are perfect ways to exercise if you hate to work out.
If you can't think of which one to start with, don't spend time agonizing. Instead make your default be jogging starting from your home. Why? Because you don't need any special equipment to get started, you don't need to drive anywhere to do it and you're not dependent on anyone else's schedule. If outdoor jogging isn't an option (e.g. it's winter, there's too much traffic or roads to cross, or it's not a safe area) or if you just don't like it then make you default be home workouts on YouTube. This is another easy-to-initiate form of exercise. Both of these are fun ways to exercise at home.
And remember habits take awhile to build up. Just focus on the process, i.e. continuing to do it a certain number of times a week, and less on whether you like it. After awhile of sticking with it, it will become a habit and you will start to even enjoy it. It might take a few months, but it will happen. If you need help with that, consider keeping an exercise journal - here are some cute journal ideas.
Another thing that helps you stick with it is that you'll realize that your life will be easier if you continue to exercise because then you don't lose progress. If you lose progress it's not the end of the world, but it just takes longer of working out again to get back to where you were.
No matter what you start with, remember to congratulate yourself on a win for health each and every time you exercise!
These are fun ways to help you keep your body trim and in shape at all times. The key is making sure that your chosen workout has something you like about it. You do deserve an amazing body - even if you hate exercise!
1. Benefits of Physical Activity. (2022, June 16). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm