I hate exercising, what should I do?

Kirsi Bhasin
Nutrition & Dietetics

Here are the top tips I give my clients to help them get moving:

If you have not been active before and dread exercise, starting an exercise program can seem like a near-impossible goal. Here is what you can do.

Find activities that work for you. You don't need to run marathons to gain the health benefits of physical activity! All you need to do is start moving, and gradually your fitness level will improve. As you lose weight, you'll be able to do more each day. Here are some ideas of activities you may want to try:

1.            Walking – it is one of the best, and simplest, weight-bearing activities

2.            Dancing

3.            Doing stretching exercises

4.            Gardening

Whatever activity you choose, go slowly, and start by warming up your muscles with simple movements such as marching in place and swinging your arms.

Here are some simple tips to help get you going:

1. Attitude is everything: "I think I can, I think I can." Believe in yourself, and know that every little bit will add up to big results over time.

2. Set realistic goals. Start by walking 5-10 minutes a few times per week, and build on your success little by little.

3. Don't think all activity has to be an actual workout. Move more whenever you can, even if it is just 10-15 minutes of physical activity throughout the day.

4. Try different movements and activities to find things you enjoy.

Take baby steps, and keep in mind that every little bit helps. No matter what fitness level, feel good about yourself and what you are able to do now. Don't beat yourself up if you cannot do a certain activity, just try again next time -- and be proud of yourself for trying! And remember to have fun!

If you hate to “exercise” then try to find some form of physical activity you enjoy doing. Perhaps you like to walk your dog or play in the backyard with your children. There are many ways we can add exercise into our everyday activities without even knowing we are exercising. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, mow your lawn, wash your car, go dancing with some friends, clean your house, go window shopping at the local mall, park far away in the parking lot, work in your garden, stand instead of sit whenever possible, go for a hike or bike ride. All these activities are things we do in everyday life but we rarely consider them a form of exercise. It doesn’t matter what you do, but find something you enjoy doing and do it often.

Dr. Kathleen Hall
Preventive Medicine
Focus on pleasure, not pain. Exercise should feel good. If you don't look forward to your daily exercise, it's time to reexamine your choices. Release the idea that exercise has to be extremely vigorous and make you suffer. Studies show that three 10-minute increments of exercise spread throughout your day have the same health-giving benefits as one 30-minute session.
Alter Your Life: Overbooked? Overworked? Overwhelmed?

More About this Book

Alter Your Life: Overbooked? Overworked? Overwhelmed?

Themes like “I just don’t have time” and “I’m exhausted” rule our lives today. We are overbooked, overworked and overwhelmed. Just getting done what must be done fills our days. The...

Exercising has many definitions and sometimes people think unless they are putting their hours on top of hours in the gym or in a group exercise class they are not exercising. The foundation of all exercise is movement. Simple repetitive movement. I will say if you hate to move and you will not do it, it won't be long before you are basically unable to do it. There are many tools in the market to help you begin basic movement. Buy an Xbox Kinect or a Nintendo Wii. My family and I use both of these. They are a fun alternative to traditional gym exercise. I would also encourage you to discover any physical activity of any kind that you even somewhat enjoy. This could be bowling, golf, heck it could be flying kites, just something that gets you moving your body to any degree. Tie this beginning exercise to a disciplined eating program that falls within your goals and you can use minimal exercise to begin the learning of how to enjoy movement.

Please do understand though, I will take the liberty and speak for most of the trainers and fitness professionals on this site. All of us enjoy the results of a fit lifestyle and all of us enjoy the feelings that we get after a great workout or fitness achievement but also every one of us from time to time probably more frequently than not have to make ourselves workout. The payoff is post workout. Not everything in life is enjoyable but those that do the things that need to be done get to reap the rewards. Have a blessed and fit day.

When I hear this question, I like to ask, "What does exercise mean for you?" Our personal definition of what "exercise" looks like can act as a belief that limits us. For example:  If for you, exercise means going to a gym and doing an hour of cardio which for you personally in not enjoyable, then change your definition and allow exercise to be something different. I like to think in simple terms of just "moving more" in an enjoyable way. This could mean pleasant walks with friends, parking further from our destinations, dancing to our favorite tunes...even around the house!  When we think in terms of how we can simply move more in a way that is fun and enjoyable, our options become clear. Now, in some cases an individual may suffer from pain as a result of exercise and if that is the case, consult your doctor.

If you hate exercising, find  activities you enjoy versus those you consider “exercise.” Your heart does not differentiate between if you are playing chase with the kids, or doing intervals on an elliptical machine. If you do the activities you enjoy most, you’re less likely to consider them as exercise. Be creative, and most importantly, have fun!

All are terrific suggestions but unless I missed it the thing you probably should do is focus on your nutrition more.  Your body weight will be determined by the amount of calories you consume versus the calories burned so the less you exercise the less calories your body will burn.  

So less activity makes it more difficult to manage your weight.  However if you log your food and know your caloric consumption you can easily adjust and maintain or lose weight simply by monitoring your caloric intake.

If you can use some of the tricks above to move more then guess what?  You get to eat more.

I am a huge fan of the combination of the Body Media device that tracks activity and logging your food through Sharecare.  If you know how much you are moving (use it as a goal) and you monitor your calories consumed then you will be able to accurately and predictably manage your weight and fitness levels.

If you hate to exercise, what should you do? Start with exercises you can do at home or try doing things that you will enjoy and give you a workout. Once you have gotten into groove or concurred these activities, get into the gym or online (HFPN Coach Sharecare Elite Trainer) and see your Fitness Professional to get a goal oriented exercise program. Work with a fitness professional to help fill in the holes you're are missing in workout plan. Doing these activities will give you a new healthy routine and a new vision of how enjoyable exercise can be.

Things that you can enjoy and get exercise:

  1. snowboarding
  2. skiing
  3. go for long walks
  4. Take the stairs
  5. Park farther away and walk
  6. bike
  7. hiking
  8. dancing
  9. yoga

Things you can do at home:

  1. Push Ups
  2. Bridges
  3. Planks
  4. Body Squats
  5. Lunges
  6. Crunches
  7. Pull Ups
Well, that’s the question of the day isn’t it? I won’t give you a lecture on why exercise is so important, because I know that you know. Dr, Darren Treasure and I addressed this whole issue on our web cast on January 13th, so take a listen to that for a more in-depth discussion.

Here are the key points:

a. Find value based or intrinsic reasons to exercise. Make a list of all the reasons it’s important. You’ll start with things like, “So I can fit into my favorite jeans.” Get past that into things like, “So I can walk into a room with more confidence.” Get even farther into things like, “So I can set a good example for my family.” Those reasons honor the values that you hold as a person. It is a more compelling and powerful reason to take action.

b.  Choose activities that you enjoy. I know it sounds simple, but the reality is that you just won’t do it if you don’t enjoy it. Ask yourself if you can combine exercise with something else that you value. For example, do you want to spend more time with our teen-age daughter? Look for a family yoga class.

c. Create a strategy or plan instead of just hoping that you will do it. Let the people close to you know what your goal is, why it is important to you and how they can help.

Don’t worry if you slip up here and there. Change is never a straight path; it does go off course from time to time. Just keep coming back to your values to help re-set your state of mind.

Robert S. Kaufmann, MD
Internal Medicine
First get rid of the word exercise!  Find an activity that you enjoy and do it.  Anything that burns calories is actually exercise.  Just do it for 30 consecutive minutes and get your heart rate up.
Here's the technique that worked for me.  I was not always an "exerciser."  Over time, I ran across many articles in magazines about the multiple benefits of exercise.  Gradually I became convinced that our bodies must be designed to move.  I decided that the evidence was there; exercise was good for me.   

It also occurred to me that I didn't particularly like brushing my teeth or taking a shower, but I did them every day because I knew they were good for me.  I never woke up in the morning and argued with myself about whether or not to brush my teeth or take a shower.  It was just routine and I did it.  

I decided to put exercise in that same category.  Non-negotiable, just get out of bed and get it done.  I started out New Year's Day, 2000, and I've exercised regularly ever since!  Once I got in the habit, I definitely discovered the rewards.  But for me the habit came first, and the enjoyment followed.  

Feel free to borrow my technique.  If you've tried everything else, why not give this a shot?  Let me know what you discover!

There are many ways to stay active without having to be pressured by "exercise".  Find activities that you enjoy and make them regular activities.  It doesn't have to be just one thing, find many activites so that you don't feel obligated to do just one thing.  Some people are not indoor people and do not like to hang out at the gym, but you can still join a basketball league or hike.  Even winter activities like snowboarding, and cross country skiing can be fun.  As long as you are moving you are headed in the right direction (take the stairs instead of the elevator) and if you have more specific goals a HFPN coach can help to lead you in the right direction.

There are a lot of activities that you can do instead of “exercise”. Exercise does not have to be running, biking or any formal regimented activity. If you have a favorite sport, that could be your exercise. If you like to dance, dance in your living room and that can be your exercise. Need to get some yard work done? You can incorporate your exercise with yard work. Anything that gets your heart rate going can be considered exercise. Also, if you call it exercise it will feel more like a chore than a healthy benefit.

Another option is find a workout partner. Exercising can be boring for some people when done on their own, but it can be challenging when you have a friend to help motivate you. A partner will also help exercise become a routine if you have someone who is counting on you to exercise with them. Once exercise becomes a part of your everyday routine, it will seem like you are missing something if you miss a day of exercise.

First ask yourself what it is about the exercise that you hate, for example you may not like walking on a treadmill because you easily get board. In that case try to find an activity that you enjoy, for example if you have a dog take it for a walk. Ask a friend to join you for a walk so you can catch up. Once you begin to exercise you just may find yourself looking forward to the next time you exercise. Your mood will improve after exercise, you will have more energy, you may sleep better at night, and the list goes on. The hardest part is getting started, so get a personal trainer or coach to help you get started and before long you won't believe that you ever hated exercise.

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
If you dont like to "exercise" in the formal sense, become an accidental exerciser.  Make your home, office, and the environment your gym.  All movement/physical activity is exercise (everything counts).

Here are some tips that you can incorporate into your day:
1. Walk 10,000 steps/day (buy a pedometer, track your steps and add 250 steps/day until you get to 10,000)
2. Take the stairs
3. Park as far away from your destination as possible and walk
4. Find an activity you love (walking, riding bike, hiking, dancing, yoga, etc)....remember all physical activity counts!
5. Try some basic at home body weight exercises that you can do during commercials while you are watching TV:
     a. Push ups
     b. Bridges
     c. Lunges

Physical activity is an EXTREMELY important component to your healthy lifestyle!
Many people hate exercising or even the idea of exercising.  Luckily, there are ways to combat this!  Exercise should help raise your heart rate for cardiovascular health, but you don't always have to commit yourself to a treadmill to gain the benefits of exercise.  Activities such as dancing, walking, gardening or doing housework can contribute to your fitness.  Participating in sports like soccer, basketball or tennis can be also be a source of enjoyable exercise.  The key is finding pleasurable activities that elevate your heart rate so that exercise no longer seems like a chore.  Remember to check with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program.
There are many reasons people don't enjoy exercise. The biggest reason people don't enjoy exercise is because it's uncomfortable. Another reason many people do not enjoy exercise is because they've set unrealistic goals and set themselves up for failure. To enjoy exercise it's important to recognize that not all exercise is uncomfortable or as uncomfortable as you'd think. When starting an exercise program no good comes of total discomfort. It's also very important to set realistic goals when starting an exercise program. For example if you currently don't exercise at all right now expecting to start an exercise program that consists of 60 minutes 6 days a week is probably not realistic. Perhaps more realistic is 10-20 minutes 3 days a week. Once you are able to attain that goal you will build confidence and motivation to continue and to add more exercise. 

It also good to know all the benefits of exercise because surely at least one of the benefits will be beneficial to you personally. Exercise is not only good to alleviate and diminish health concerns such as high blood pressure or diabetes but it allows you to perform daily activities more easily.  Exercise helps keep you healthy and strong in body, mind and spirit. Exercise also helps diminish and alleviate existing health conditions. Exercise allows people to sleep better. Its effective for depression, anxiety and helps alter moods to positive levels. Physical activity provide biochemical changes in the brain increasing the concentration of positive neurochemicals such as endorphins and serotonin. Exercise is also positively associated with changes in brain wave activity allowing for a more calm mental state.

Most importantly try to choose something you love and have fun with whatever you do! 
If you are into video games, you can check out the Nintendo Wii or Xbox 360 Kinect. These home game consoles offer interactive games such as sports, yoga, even combat simulated games in which your movements are an interaction in game play. This may be a good alternative to traditional exercising.
Learn something new-tennis, ballroom dancing, trapeze, bicycle or find a hiking trail and walk. If that is too much to ask then get a friend to join you. Misery loves company. Or if none of this works then get a book on tape and just walk 30+ minutes a day, so you educate yourself simultaneously.

Continue Learning about Staying Motivated For Fitness & Exercise

Fun Ways to Stop Middle-Age Spread
Fun Ways to Stop Middle-Age Spread
Need some inspiration to start working out? Here's some. If you're physically active throughout early adulthood, you can look forward to a slimmer wai...
Read More
Will a group environment help me to exercise?
Jeff Croswell , NASM Elite TrainerJeff Croswell , NASM Elite Trainer
While in the past years training has been simply either on your own or one on one with a personal tr...
More Answers
Once I start exercising, how can I keep going?
Jonathan PenneyJonathan Penney
The first question I have for you is what is your motivation?  Have you started because you want to ...
More Answers
Dr. Oz Boxes With Kamar de los Reyes
Dr. Oz Boxes With Kamar de los Reyes

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.