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Hate to exercise? Use these tips to get motivated


Almost everyone knows that exercise is good, but getting motivated can be a challenge. Most people don’t spring out of bed at dawn, grab their exercise gear and head out the door for the gym or a walk. Many actually profess to hate exercise, but there are ways to get started and even learn to enjoy exercise.


“Avoid getting off to a bad start by taking the ‘all or nothing’ approach,” said Lynda Johnson, nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.


For the sedentary person, trying to exercise each day can leave you feeling sore, overwhelmed and unable to keep it up.


“It’s important to give yourself some slack, not get discouraged and realize that missing a few days of exercise doesn’t constitute failure. Focus on adding small changes over time,” Johnson said.


Here are some tips that will help you stay motivated to move:


Commit to change


Be willing to move in a new direction with your lifestyle and find ways to be more active.


  • Identify a successful role model who made changes to improve health by increasing physical activity and sensible eating.
  • Fit people learn to deal with change or setbacks and maintain motivation. Accept that change is all about making choices.
  • Choose to take a walk rather than watch TV. This doesn’t mean giving up on TV — just balance TV viewing with being more active.
  • Walk up the escalator rather than just riding, or take the stairs instead.
  • Put into action all the simple ways to add more steps to your day.


Believe in yourself and your ability to change


  • Nix the negative self-talk and have a positive attitude.
  • Make a list of successful changes you’ve made in the past.
  • Use humor and laugh off occasional lapses.
  • Don’t think that a couple of days with no exercise will ruin your efforts. Have confidence that you can get back on track with your healthy routine.
  • Keep a record of your activity on a calendar.
  • Rather than being envious of a friend who stays in shape with regular exercise, learn from their success.


Focus on small changes


When it comes to exercise, it’s important to create a plan that works for you for the long haul. Getting healthier and staying that way cannot be achieved in six weeks — this must become a lifetime commitment to finding ways to stay active.


  • Keep experimenting until you discover physical activities you really enjoy.
  • Try line dancing, weight lifting, water aerobics, exercise classes or yoga.
  • Have a backup plan for those days when your exercise plans are challenged. If you can’t walk because of the weather, have an exercise DVD to use.
  • Keep a pair of sneakers in the car, by your desk or the door as a reminder to walk.
  • Place hand weights next to the TV so you can exercise while watching your favorite program.
  • Work on adding one new activity to your routine gradually and build from there.
  • Always focus on the fun and take time to think how much better you feel after exercise.


Cheer on your change


It’s easier to make lifestyle changes when you have someone to cheer you on.


  • Seek out a friend, co-worker or family member who will encourage you and help you maintain motivation.
  • Regular phone calls, emails or visits could provide that motivational boost to keep you on target.
  • Perhaps your cheerleader could become your exercise buddy, which can make physical activity more enjoyable.
  • Always take time to celebrate — reward yourself as you make simple changes that support your overall goal. Celebration is part of successful change.


It’s not lack of willpower


Too often people think they simply lack the willpower to change, but this really isn’t the issue. It’s making the decision to chart your plan of action based on small, incremental changes that over time will lead to improved health. In her book, The “I hate to exercise” book for people with diabetes, Certified Diabetic Educator Charlotte Hayes encourages people to ease into more physical activity by making the most of the activities you do daily (e.g., walking, cleaning, gardening, stair climbing or anything that keeps you moving).


When people say they don’t have time to exercise, Dr. Lisa Callahan, co-director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center of Weill Cornell Hospital, suggests keeping a journal. Record what you do every half hour for a day. Callahan guarantees you’ll find 30 minutes you could have spent exercising. We all have 24 hours each day, it’s all in our choices and commitment to change.


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Last Updated 05/15/2017