How to Exercise—When You Don’t Like to Exercise

“I wish I was the kind of person that loves to exercise… I’m just not that guy.”

My good friend Dave takes a sip from his completely poured pint, whereas explaining his reluctance to train.

“I’m the guy who’s really into beer,” he provides. “I have no interest in exercise. Beer is my thing. That’s who I am.”

Dave, like numerous folks, is aware of train is one thing he “should” do. But it holds no enchantment.

Going for a run—and really having fun with it? Unfathomable to him. The fitness center? Forget it.

Coaches, medical doctors, and health fans love to espouse the advantages of bodily exercise: It makes you are feeling good! It’s rewarding! It’s essential! 

Yet, like a triple hopped IPA, train could be an acquired style. Some folks like it at first sip, some be taught to like it, and others simply plain don’t prefer it.

And that’s okay.

Disliking train isn’t some type of ethical failure.

It doesn’t imply you’re damaged or lazy—it’s only a private desire.

Still, there’s no denying that train is nice for the human physique.

But how do you train once you don’t prefer it?

And in the event you’re a coach, how will you assist shoppers with this problem—with out coming off just like the health police?

We turned to our in-house PN Coaches, who collectively have a long time of expertise serving to folks transfer extra (together with loads of people who’d given up on train altogether).

In this text, they share 5 refreshing methods—plus over a dozen how-to ideas—that may allow you to (or your shoppers) cease combating with train.

“Why don’t others appreciate exercise like I do?”

First, a number of phrases to all the oldsters who’re captivated with health.

When you like one thing, it’s laborious to perceive why others don’t.

But there are many explanation why an individual may discover train disagreeable or undesirable. For occasion…

  • Past experiences: If your health recollections embrace being picked final for softball, hit within the face throughout dodgeball, or body-shamed in the gym, you may choose to sit within the bleachers (or keep away from sports activities altogether).
  • Pain: For some folks, sure types of motion damage. They can exacerbate continual ache, accidents, and current well being situations.
  • Discomfort: Some dislike the sensation of motion, respiration laborious, or getting sweaty. People in bigger our bodies or with disabilities might discover train tools or group lessons merely aren’t constructed for them. On high of bodily discomfort, this may set off emotions of disgrace and being “out of place.”
  • Perception: When train is handled like a chore, punishment, or a check of bodily limits (“unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going”) some people might opt-out altogether.
  • Identity: Some folks (like my beer ingesting good friend Dave) are turned off by health tradition. They don’t need to be a “gym bro” or be part of a “spin cult”—their identification lies elsewhere.


Doesn’t train make folks completely satisfied?

Physical exercise can present an endorphin rush, or “runner’s high.” (It’s additionally been proven to contribute to mental wellness.)

But that pleasurable dose of hormones isn’t as dependable because it’s made out to be.

“Individual reaction to exercise varies,” says Helen Kollias, PhD, science advisor at Precision Nutrition.

“Endorphin response can be tricky to measure, so there’s a lot we don’t know. But it’s possible that some people may produce more endorphins and/or be more sensitive to them. Genetic differences may play a role.”1

Dr. Kollias provides:

“The ‘runner’s high’ experience even varies day to day. One day a runner may experience an endorphin rush but nothing the next.”

Bottom line: Don’t assume your shoppers will expertise a scrumptious endorphin rush just by working tougher. (But it’s a bonus in the event that they do.)

Strategy #1: Stop making an attempt to train.

Yes, you learn that appropriately.

“Stop trying” might sound like unusual recommendation, however hear us out.

If train appears like an not possible, torturous process, the very best method is likely to be to take it off the desk utterly.

A number of causes:

For one, the extra you push in opposition to your individual resistance (or your shoppers’), the extra that resistance is probably going to develop. Conversely, in the event you cease telling your self you “should” train, you may uncover you’re extra probably to do it.

Two comic panels show two characters at a swimming pool. In the first panel, character one is attempting to push character two off the diving board, and character two is resisting hard. In the second panel, character one has decided to ease off and enjoy himself in the water. Meanwhile, character two decides he might like to try jumping into the water after all, since no one is pushing him.

Also: You don’t HAVE to train.

Yes, it’s good for you. But you’re within the driver’s seat on this life. And you get to select the way you spend your time and power.

That stated, if you would like to discover motion in a pressure-free method, try the following tips.

▶ Try a “do nothing” experiment.

Here’s a bizarre concept: Limit your motion for a number of days and see what occurs.

“When a client tells me they don’t want to exercise, I say, ‘Great, don’t do it. In fact, don’t even move. Just lie in bed and do as little as possible,’” says PN Master Coach Kate Solovieva.

And what occurs?

“Eventually most people are going to want to move in some way, of their own volition. They’ll say, ‘Wait a second, I actually want to move around a bit. I want to go for a walk’.”

This isn’t about tricking your self into wanting to transfer; it’s about studying if and when motion does really feel good for you. You may uncover your physique craves motion greater than you realized.

▶ Focus on different methods to enhance your well being.

It could be straightforward to fixate on the factor (you suppose) you’re dangerous at.

But once you do this, you possibly can miss different (probably simpler, much less demanding) alternatives for enchancment.

“If you absolutely cannot or will not move in any way, think of it like this: You still have plenty of other ways to improve your health,” says PN Coach and Holistic Nutritionist Sarah Maughan.

“You could put your time and energy into improving your sleep, your stress management, your nutrition, and so on. Exercise isn’t the only ingredient in a healthy life.”

Of all of the health-improving choices obtainable to you, what’s most interesting? Make that your precedence for now.

▶ Build your bucket checklist.

Rather than obsessing over how a lot you hate the fitness center, Solovieva suggests placing the give attention to what you need to do.

“Sometimes, I’ll say: ‘Okay, let’s put exercise aside for a while. Instead, let’s talk bucket list. Tell me about the things you’re curious about, the things you want to try before you die’.”

The gadgets in your bucket checklist may naturally encourage you to get transferring (maybe you need to be match sufficient to cycle round Amsterdam or climb a volcano in Hawaii). Or not.

Regardless, the “bucket list” train can shift your focus in direction of what you need for your self—which could be significant and energizing, it doesn’t matter what you select.

Brainstorm a bunch of belongings you need to strive in your lifetime. Then think about: Which of those may you begin working in direction of at present?

Strategy #2: Aim for “movement” relatively than “exercise.”

“People often assume they have to go straight into training for a marathon or lifting heavy weights,” says Solovieva. “But in order to get the benefit of movement, you don’t have to train. You can just move.”

And in the event you’re questioning the way you’ll discover huge blocks of time to train—and even transfer?

“You don’t necessarily need to schedule time to exercise,” says Maughan. “Your movement could just be a pile of mini actions that add up over the day.”

Those “mini actions” could possibly be something: strolling to the workplace water cooler for a drink; emptying the dishwasher or mowing the garden; goofing round together with your children.

Scale shows how short bursts of physical activity can add up over the course of the day, even if those activities aren't typically thought of as exercise. In this example, walking to and from the bus stop, going for coffee with a coworker, pacing around during the office during a meeting, and vacuuming after work all add up to 43 minutes of physical activity.

Bonus: Research reveals that once you deal with train as enjoyable or play (relatively than work), you’ll be much less susceptible to hedonic compensation—the phenomenon of loading up on treats post-workout, negating a calorie burn, if that’s what you’re after.2

Either method: Moving relatively than exercising may really feel extra accessible—and have much less baggage hooked up to it.

Want to get transferring? Try the following tips.

▶ Aim to barely enhance the methods you already transfer.

PN Coach Jeremy Fernandes factors out that even in the event you hate motion, you is likely to be doing greater than you suppose.

“Unless you’re actually mendacity in mattress all day, you’re most likely getting some type of motion. Just getting up within the morning, making breakfast, getting to work—all these items require motion, says Fernandes.

“So the real question is, How can you expand on the movement you’re already doing?”

For instance—may you tempo the lavatory whilst you brush your tooth? Circle the block after you’re taking out the trash? Walk the canine for an additional couple of minutes? And so on.

▶ Lean into the “mostly inactive” belongings you take pleasure in.

“One client of mine wanted to move more, but movement wasn’t her thing,” says Solovieva. “Her passion was cooking. So we focused on that: I encouraged her to cook more, to check out new recipes, and so on.”

Here’s the fascinating half:

“The more she got into cooking, the more she moved. Without trying, she naturally became more physically active by grocery shopping, chopping, picking up pots and pans, and moving around her kitchen.”

In time, Solovieva’s consumer grew extra snug transferring. (She even finally graduated to some residence exercises.)

Cooking isn’t your solely choice. Many hobbies contain motion, even when they aren’t seen as “fitness activities.” For instance:

  • Love to learn? Walk to the library or stroll round a bookstore.
  • Like to paint? Try portray on a bigger canvas so that you’re inspired to stand and make some bigger arm actions.
  • Shopping fanatic? Instead of purchasing on-line, saunter by way of the mall or native outlets.

And hey, in the event you’re a beer fan like my buddy Dave, possibly do a brewery tour, or stroll to the beer retailer as an alternative of driving.

▶ Embrace the “everything counts” philosophy.

Get this: Just pondering that your each day actions “count” in direction of your health objectives could make a distinction.

One examine performed out of Harvard University discovered that if we imagine our each day actions (like house responsibilities or youngster care) rely as train, the physiological advantage of these actions is enhanced.3

The placebo impact could be a professional method to enhance bodily health, with out altering your each day routine.

So, take into consideration your each day routines, and admire how the actions you do are already contributing to your well being.

Strategy #3: Do Less.

To reap the advantages of motion, you may want lower than you suppose.

According to the CDC Physical Activity Guidelines, adults ought to purpose to get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity bodily exercise per week (or 22 to 43 minutes a day).4

(Note: Time-crunched people also can meet the rules by doing 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity train per week.)

But train isn’t all-or-nothing: Everything counts.

If the above suggestions sound overwhelming to you, strive the following tips.

▶ Break your objective into manageable items.

In her guide, The Play Book: How to Get In the Habit of Good Health, coach and play knowledgeable Janet Omstead, PN2-MHC, suggests:

“If 22 minutes all at once feels like too much, just break up that 22 minutes into smaller chunks.”

For instance, 22 minutes damaged up over the course of the day may seem like:

  • 5 minutes of motion 5 instances
  • 8 minutes of motion 3 instances
  • 11 minutes of motion 2 instances

(Small however efficient train “snacks” are additionally known as “trigger workouts.” Read extra about them right here: The intermittent workout method that could transform the way you exercise)

▶ Start small and construct slowly.

“You can also make 22 minutes the goal rather than the starting point,” says Omstead.

“You can even take a year, or longer to work up to 22 minutes. For example, if you start at 5 minutes per day and add 1 minute per day each month, at the end of a year you’d be at 17 minutes a day—and you’ll have built a regular daily habit, something many people never achieve.”

▶ Explore the continuum.

If train looks like an all-or-nothing type of factor (you’re both coaching for an IronMan or in full-on sofa potato mode), begin pondering on a spectrum.

“I ask clients to imagine a continuum from 0 to 10,” says Solovieva. “If 10 is ‘I move all the time and do everything perfectly’ and 0 is ‘I don’t move at all and just lie on the couch till I kick the bucket’, what are some options in between?”

One method to take into consideration that is to think about motion as a dial or quantity knob. If you had been to flip your quantity knob up a bit—say a 2/10 or a 3/10—what may that seem like?

Dial shows movement options from a scale of one to ten. For example, one suggests parking further away to walk more; five suggests doing three thirty minutes workouts a week, plus two twenty minute sessions of walking; and ten suggests doing intense daily military-style training.

When you discover the continuum you may discover a stage of exercise that feels doable for you.

(And hey—this “dial” methodology works for principally your whole well being habits. Learn extra: Never press “pause” on your health and fitness again. This free tool is your secret weapon)

Strategy #4: Try stuff.

If you do need to transfer extra—and ideally, discover one thing you want, if not love—there’s no getting round it:

You’ll have to give some issues a strive.

That possibly means doing a little stuff you may not like. Fortunately, there are methods to make the experimentation course of extra enjoyable (or a minimum of, not terrible).

Here are some concepts.

▶ Apply the ten minute rule.

“Give yourself permission to try just 10 minutes of something. If you don’t like it, you can stop,” says PN Coach Pam Ruhland.

This low-pressure method makes it simpler to strive new issues: Get within the pool together with your children for simply 10 minutes and see the way it goes. Try 10 minutes of an internet Zumba class or a yoga video on YouTube.

“Knowing you can quit can make it easier to get started—which is actually the hardest part,” says Ruhland.

▶ Return to belongings you used to like.

“How did you love to play when you were young? Start there,” says Omstead.

“Make a list of all the ways you loved to play and be active when you were a kid. Did you jump rope? Play soccer? Explore the forest? Chase the ice cream truck down the street?”

Pick one thing out of your checklist and take a look at it. Yes, it is likely to be tougher as an grownup. (Where do children get the power to leap rope for hours?) But it may additionally rekindle your playfulness.

And don’t neglect, you possibly can at all times give up after 10 minutes.

▶ Create your “bingo card” of recent actions.

Even in the event you suppose you hate ALL train, there are most likely belongings you haven’t tried.

To experiment, Solovieva suggests making a “bingo card” of recent actions.

She explains: “On each square, put an activity you’d like to try: maybe yoga goes on one square, zumba, hiking, boxing, and so on.”

Then, for the subsequent 30 or 60 days, purpose to fill the bingo card by making an attempt every exercise.

“In the end, maybe you’ll still hate everything you tried,” says Solovieva. “But even if you don’t like the activities themselves, the process of experimenting can be weirdly fun.”

(If you want this concept, obtain our free PDF: Movement Bingo)

Strategy #5: Adjust your expectations.

Fitness tradition has exploded. This could be a good factor when it encourages folks to get energetic and take a look at new issues, however it can be, effectively, intense.

These days, it appears you possibly can’t simply throw on some sweats and transfer your physique; you may have to go full BEAST MODE.

And it’s not sufficient to simply get it finished, you may have to do one thing you LOVE [unicorn emoji, rainbow emoji, heart emoji].

Plus, your efforts ought to one way or the other end in six-pack abs regardless of your age, gender, and way of life. #noexcuses


Let’s take the expectations down a notch, lets?

Truth is, motion doesn’t require something fancy, or have to yield some magical transformation in a single day.

By adjusting your expectations round train, you can also make the entire thing much less of an ordeal… possibly much more enjoyable.

Here’s what that may seem like.

▶ Don’t fear about “loving it”—purpose for “meh” as an alternative.

Exercise advocates will inform you to “find something you love.” But for a few of us, “love” is simply too robust of a phrase.

Case in level: One day, Fernandes requested a beforehand inactive consumer what she cherished about her new exercise routine.

Her reply stunned him.

“I don’t love any of this,” she stated. “I don’t love walking. I don’t love going to the gym. What I do feel is a sense of contentment after I’ve done it.”

But you already know what? That’s okay, says Fernandes.

“The good new is that you don’t have to love it. The goal is to find something tolerable that adds some value to your life.”

Think of it like brushing your tooth: “No one gets really excited about doing it, but you know it’s important for your health, and it feels good after you do it,” says Fernandes.

▶ Be nicer to your self.

Years in the past, a good friend and I agreed we’d begin figuring out.

Without intending to achieve this, we each took completely different approaches:

The night time earlier than, I’d write little notes of encouragement for myself to see very first thing within the morning. Stuff like, “You are a badass.”

My good friend, nevertheless, would get up and say to herself: “Get up you lazy bum. That weight isn’t going to lose itself.”

Guess which one in every of us made it to our exercise? (It was me.)

These outcomes aren’t simply anecdotal:

We interviewed a bunch of PN Certified coaches about what causes clients to quit, and so they all agreed that “beating themselves up” was the #1 issue.

Research additionally reveals that self-compassion—being type and supportive to your self—is positively related to health-promoting behaviors like maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, prioritizing sleep, and managing stress.5 6

(Want to give self-compassion go? Check out our Self-Compassion Quickie.)

It is sensible: Being a jerk to your self just about ensures you’re not going to have an excellent time, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing.

So, watch your self-talk. Try to be type and inspiring, and provides your self a gold star on your efforts, regardless of how small.

Maybe even write a pleasant observe for your self. Sounds tacky, however it works.


Click right here to view the knowledge sources referenced on this article.

If you’re a coach, otherwise you need to be…

You may help folks construct diet and way of life habits that enhance their bodily and psychological well being, bolster their immunity, assist them higher handle stress, and get sustainable outcomes. We’ll present you the way.

If you’d like to be taught extra, think about the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.

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