You’ve heard it all before: Exercise is good for you. It makes you more attractive, makes you live longer, and solves all the world’s problems.
But what if you hate to exercise?
What if it’s just not you?
Here — I’ve listed out the most common reasons why people don’t exercise regularly. Maybe you’ll find something in common with them.
If you do, give my suggestions a thought. Hopefully they’ll help — and you’ll find yourself giving exercise a second chance…
1. You Don’t Have The Time & Energy
Exercise requires commitment — time and energy. If you work a full-time job, do all the housework, and still have to take care of three kids — how on earth are you going to find the time and energy to exercise? Even if you had a free hour (which I’m sure you don’t), you’d rather rage at national issues on Facebook right?
There’s no easy fix here, but here’s a suggestion to free up time and energy for yourself: Take a notepad and write down every single thing you do every day, and how much time it takes. Do it for a week. Now review it — and look at how you’ve been utilizing your time. Are there inessential things you could drop to free up more time?
This may mean no more TV. Or a little less Facebook. But the benefits you’ll get from regular exercise will more than make up for it.
Most of us don’t look at it this way, but time and energy are finite resources. Dropping inessential things lets us focus on things that really matter.
p.s. This is not a suggestion to give away your kids. Although getting help to manage them is certainly recommended.
2. You Haven’t Felt Progress
You’re thinking back about the time you plucked up enough courage to step into the gym.
It was January. You were pumped up from your New Year’s resolutions. Decked in your latest Nike dri-Fit attire and sporting the coolest earphones you could get, you walked in enthusiastically.
And then you realized it: you had absolutely no idea what to do. Intimidating machines, dumbbells, exercise balls — so many options and so confusing! Worst of all, everyone seemed to be staring at you, laughing silently at your pathetic attempts to get fit. Judging you.
But you persevered. You went back the next week, more determined than ever. But lifting the dumbbell felt weird and dangerous. Sitting on the exercise ball felt creepy. You ended up running on the treadmill and thinking to yourself “Hey, I could do this at home.”
If you’re not naturally inclined to physical exercise, working out can be intimidating. And if there’s no one around to guide you, it’s hard to progress — which is critical for motivation. People love progress — whether it’s losing weight on the scale, running a faster time, or lifting heavier weights. It’s in our nature.
No progress, no motivation = No exercise.
What to do? If you have the money, a personal trainer would be great. But if you don’t — most gyms have free group classes — which is a great place to start. They have a fixed schedule (so you can incorporate it into your weekly routine), there’s always an overly-enthusiastic instructor to guide you, and you’ll realize that no one in the class is judging you.
Because they’re just like you and me: self-conscious, insecure, and worrying that everyone else is judging them.
3. You Don’t Have Fun
You don’t exercise because it’s not fun for you.
“Leave my comfortable air-conditioned TV room for two hours of running in the sweltering heat? You’ve gotta be crazy!”
So let’s find a way to make exercise fun. Hey, maybe you could try different exercises till you find one you like?
Maybe you don’t like running. (I hate it).
How about badminton? It’s easy to organize, a good workout, and badminton players are always looking for more people to join their games. Just ask around — I bet you already have at least one second-degree friend who plays badminton regularly.
The other aspect of having fun is learning to accept the “bad” that comes with exercise. Despite what photoshop-ed models on TV tell you — exercise is always going to be tiring. It’s always going to be a little hot, sweaty and uncomfortable.
Accept it. Accept it because it’s part of the process in becoming healthier. Accept that nothing worthwhile in life comes without struggle.
And then one day you’ll realize that you actually do like the climb. That the soreness in your legs actually feels kinda cool. Because it’s a sign of progress. A badge of honor in the pursuit of a better life.
4. Your Friends Don’t Exercise Either
It’s tough to exercise if no one in your social circle cares about it. Or worse — if they’re unfit — and mock you for doing it.
For most of my life, I belonged to the exercise-once-a-week club. Despite my love for sports and self-improvement, I could never be disciplined enough.
The once a week exercise? It was usually basketball. With a bunch of friends I’ve known for more than a decade. Even if I was sick or unable to play, I would often drop by — just to chit chat with my friends.
A strong community to support your exercise habit makes things really easy. It’s how I got from once-a-week to three-times-a-week: Friends.
Maybe you don’t have a group of friends who love to exercise. That’s OK — you can ask your friends along when you go try badminton. Maybe you’ll all get along and get absorbed into that group.
Or you could be friendly to your classmates when you go for group classes. Say Hi — ask if they’d like to go for a meal after working out.
Get social. It feels good for everyone involved. The deeper your friendships with your mentors, fellow-exercisers, and people who hang out where you exercise — the better it gets.
Then, you won’t dread exercise anymore. You’ll even look forward to it.
Because it’ll just feel like hanging out with your friends.
What are your tips for getting into an exercise routine?
Follow me at mr-stingy.com for more ideas on self-improvement.
Pic by “Mike” Michael L. Baird