If your exercise regimen is more of a chore or brings on a dreaded headache just thinking about it, then you simply need to find ways to learn to love exercise, not quit altogether. For example, if you’re running every day to lose weight just because you think it will shed pounds the quickest, you’re not only hurting your goals, but also your mentality towards exercise. Exercise should be something that you generally enjoy. It should be a time for you to sort through your thoughts, be active and manage stress. That’s the entire point! To find ways to learn to love exercise, there are many different things you can do. Check out these 10 tips to get you started.
1. Try Something New
So you really hate running? Then quit! I personally hate to run, and even if I’m the only person at the gym or in my neighborhood walking, I walk at a brisk pace and have taught myself how to learn to love exercise by doing what I enjoy. I often crave a walk if I don’t get one in. It clears my head, helps me maintain my weight and helps me sort through my stress levels. On days you don’t feel like cardio, opt for strength training, or find a YouTube yoga or Pilates video. They are free, easy to access on your computer or smartphone, and many can be done anywhere. You could even take a new class at your gym or local fitness studio. You may meet new people and find an exercise you never even heard of or thought of that you enjoy.
2. Find the Why
Why are you exercising? Write down your reason. Is it for weight loss? That’s okay, but if you’re exercising solely for weight loss and miserable, rethink your goals. Why do you want to lose weight? Concentrate on your health efforts and how exercise fits in. Try viewing exercising as a positive activity because it prevents disease, obesity and depression. Weight loss can be a result, but if this is your only reason for moving each day, mostly likely it won’t last long once you lose the weight. Consider all the areas exercise could improve your life. Focus on those reasons instead of dropping pounds. This may help you learn to love exercise again.
3. Keep a Journal
Most people keep a food journal, and while this is helpful in many ways, keeping a small record of your exercises can also be helpful. If you constantly feel drained and have no energy during your day after your workout, it may not be for you. Exercise should tire your muscles, not rob your daily energy. It should in fact give you more energy. Writing down how you feel after each type of workout you do may help you see where changes need to be made. Also write down how certain exercises make you feel. Do they feel forced and stressful or do they energize you, calm you and motivate you? Writing these feelings down will help you link what exercises work best for you and trash the ones that don’t.
4. Grab a Girlfriend
Asking your friend(s) to join in on your exercise schedule may be what you need to learn to love exercise again. While many people workout alone, there are also people who would rather workout with a partner. Sometimes a partner can keep you motivated, keep your mind off how bad you want to quit, or help you find an exercise you enjoy. Try it and see if it works for you. The best part? You have somebody to gab to and gossip with about the good stuff in life!
5. Update Your Playlist
Music has been proven to help exercisers look forward to moving each day, and actually lower the perception of pain. I know I can’t go a day without listening to my playlist on my walks. I love certain songs because they help increase my productivity, longevity and endurance, while others just make me happy. Can’t find a good playlist? Google it or look on Pinterest. There are also some great ideas on All Women Stalk for fun playlists, so search away!
6. Check Your Shoes
If you hate exercise because it constantly hurts your legs or feet, you may just need to check your shoes. Improper shoes can wreak havoc on your body and prevent a proper recovery. You need to pick supportive shoes that fit the exercisea you are doing. Certain shoes are designed for specific purposes, so research before you buy and don’t buy shoes too small or big for your feet. It sounds obvious, but many people hate working out and all they need is a better pair of shoes.
7. Fuel the Right Way
If you’re exercising on a full stomach or having trouble with your digestion before or during exercise, you may not be eating properly. Fats and starches are two of the hardest foods to digest during movement. A better choice would be a light protein option with fresh fruit or a green smoothie, which is high in energizing nutrients, vitamins and is light on your stomach. Energy bars should be used with caution since they contain so many unhealthy sugars and salts in most brands. Pick a more natural based bar such as Larabar or Kind bar, which is simply fruits, nuts, and some natural sweeteners. Even better? Have a Greek yogurt with some fruit or small amount of nut butter. This will satisfy you and keep you energized. Going hungry or being sick during exercise will prevent you from enjoying it, so eat well!
8. Take Your Mind off Your Weight
One way I have found to enjoy exercise more is to stop thinking about how the exercise will affect my weight. Instead, I like to think about an area of my body that is asking to be helped, like my hamstrings. I have terrible hamstring pain from working on my feet all day, so I focus on yoga after work to rid the pain from my legs. Other days, my shoulders my might feel stiff, so I do lots of shoulder rotations and bends to loosen things up. If I’m working at home and get stiff from sitting, I like to go for a pre-dinner walk to get myself up and moving again to generate blood flow to my legs. Focusing my exercise efforts on what my body needs versus my weight has given me a new appreciation for exercising and it can do the same for you!
9. Get outside
If you are stuck in a gym for every single workout, exercise will begin to get a little boring or mundane. I particularly love skipping the treadmill during the fall season and walking around my neighborhood for about an hour a day. It really lifts my mood to smell the fresh scent of fall and see all the different colored leaves. I often lose track of time, I enjoy myself so much. Allow yourself to get outside on days when the weather is nice and save those gym workouts for rainy days or hot temperatures. You’ll begin to love exercise for your surroundings instead of just going through the motions.
10. Challenge Yourself
While exercise shouldn't be a punishment in any way, challenging yourself on the other hand can make things interesting. I personally love trying a new yoga or Pilates workout that says "advanced' on the front of the DVD or on YouTube. It challenges me to do the movements, and even if I can’t perform all of them perfectly, just trying helps me feel like I’m accomplishing something. Maybe for you a challenge would be increasing your mileage, your heart rate, or your incline. Perhaps it would mean trying a new exercise altogether. Find a way to challenge yourself that you enjoy. You’ll reap the benefits of loving exercise and get some extra confidence too.
Exercise is a gift, not a chore. Look at it that way, and cherish it for what it can do FOR you. You may need to tweak your routine a little but the most important thing is just to start! Once you start, half the battle is over! What is your favorite tip for learning to love exercise? Share!