When I first decided to get healthy and change my diet, I knew that exercise was going to be an important part of that, but I just really didn’t enjoy it and I know I am not alone. People seem to think that even now I wake up every morning with this insane drive and desire to kick butt in the gym. No. I still have to push myself to workout a lot of the time, because who doesn’t want to spend an hour extra in bed?
I think the key to wanting to workout, it to find something that you enjoy. There are so many different ways to workout, you should try them all before writing off exercise completely. Also, sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to in life because they will benefit us – so it might just come down to finding something that you hate the least.
Here are my tips to making exercise enjoyable:
- Get a workout buddy – This isn’t for everyone, and I know some people prefer to workout alone, but if you can find someone that works at the same speed as you, and has similar goals, then it can really help make it more fun. You don’t have to do the same thing together all the time. My husband and I go to the gym together, but he does his thing and I do mine, but having him there to makes it easier sometimes. Find someone that wants to go to a workout class and try something new. Getting a workout buddy doesn’t mean going to the gym and chatting the whole time, it just means having someone to get through it with.
- Set Goals – If you set yourself small and realistic goals for your workouts, then gradually you will start to enjoy them more as you will be reaching your goals and seeing progress. Aim to be able to run for 30 seconds longer, or to up your weights at the gym or hold a plank for a little longer than the week before. Challenge yourself and set targets. I am a competitive person, but with myself rather than other people, so it makes it more fun for me.
- Let music push you through – Music helps me get through my workouts every day. If I am not really feeling it, I just put on my favourite songs and I enjoy it so much more.
- Don’t even think about it – I find that having a workout routine means that it becomes a habit and not something I just sit there thinking “what do I do? When shall I do it”. I don’t have time to think about not enjoying it – I just get it done.
- Be realistic – If you tell yourself that you have to run and you have to run far, but you hate running and you are not at a level to be able to run far yet, then you are not going to enjoy it. Find something that suits your skill level, but is still challenging, and you are more likely to enjoy it.
- Mix things up – Don’t stick to the same workout day after day, you are less likely to enjoy it. Try to do a few different things each week and try something you have not done before.
- Do short bursts – Workouts don’t have to be a full hour at a time. Some people not only don’t have the time for that, but they don’t have the attention span. Start off slowly and commit to doing 5-10 minutes of activity a couple of times a day. It’s not ideal, but it is better than nothing.
- Make exercise a game – One of my favourite ways to workout is by playing a sport, like tennis or badminton. My husband and I go together and before we know it an hour has passed and we have had a really good workout.
- You can workout with a computer game – When I first started working out, I used the Wii Fit. Whilst using that alone would not be enough of a workout for me now, in the beginning it was perfect and even now playing it is a little bit of activity. One game that I LOVE for a workout is Just Dance. I know some people say it isn’t much of a workout, but I genuinely believe that you get out what you put it. During the game, if the song I am on is not giving me enough of a sweat and burn, I add some jumps and squats into it and push myself really hard and I turn it into a workout. My husband and I play it together, like in the photo above, and our competitiveness really comes out.
- Do the exercise you did as a kid – What did you love doing as a kid? Try that sport again and you might get back some of the enjoyment that you once had for it.
- Choose your workout clothes well – Some people might see this one as a bit vain, but I think that if you feel good about yourself, then you are generally happier in other things that you do. I have lots of bright workout clothes and they just make me feel good. Having comfortable workout clothes is also really important – having your sports bra rubbing the whole time is not enjoyable.
- Always stretch – No matter how much you stretch, there are going to be times when you ache the day or two after a workout and that is normal. However, if you don’t stretch, you are likely to cause yourself an injury which is a sure fire way to hate exercise.
- Focus on the mental benefits – Too often we focus on the physical changes we are wanting from exercise, but those changes are also regulated by so many other things so when they don’t change the way we want to, it is easy for us to blame the workouts and then stop enjoying them. Focus on the mental benefits of working out, like feeling less stressed and your attitude in general.
- See exercise as “me time” – Don’t just look at it as a way to improve your health or to lose weight. See it as 30-60 minutes a day that is all about you. There are no bills, kids, or work. You are just focusing on you. No pressure – just you time!
- Every opportunity is an opportunity to workout – Don’t just think or exercise in conventional ways, like going to the gym or putting a workout DVD on. Go for a 10 minute walk during your lunch break and take the stairs rather than the lift. That way, you are getting mini workouts in during the day.
- Build a home gym and watch TV – This doesn’t mean you have to have every piece of equipment that there is – just by one thing if you can. I got a really good deal on an elliptical (you can buy them second hand) and when I would much rather just watch TV than workout, I get on the elliptical, put on an episode of my favourite show and I watch it whilst working out. The time goes so fast.
- Get adventurous – If you live somewhere where you can surf or snowboard or do biking and hiking, do that! Think outside of the box with your workouts.
If you enjoy your workouts most of the time, then you are less likely to skip them and you will see better results. Not everything has to be a chore. Find something you like and do that. The mental benefits will be huge too!