But the point is that exercise is vital to your overall health and well-being. It helps reduce your risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. What’s more, new research shows that regular exercise saves four million lives every year and can help you live longer. So even if you hate it, it’s worth finding a way to learn to love moving. Here’s how to find joy in exercise if it doesn’t naturally feel like it.
1. Fake it until you make it
While lying is usually not the answer, in this case, go for it. “I lied to myself for years,” says fitness instructor Katie Austin. “Tell yourself you’re only going to move your body for five to 10 minutes. After that, if you feel good, keep going, and if not, at least you’ve let it go.” Either way, once the timer goes off, you’ll feel better about taking a look at it.
2. Make a schedule and stick to it
If you’re someone who likes a routine, this technique can help you enjoy exercise more because you’ll have something to look forward to. “A lot of times, people hate their workouts because they don’t really know what they’re doing. A plan is key,” says Austin. “When I’m not feeling particularly motivated during the week, I put my workouts on my calendar so I can plan them out.”
3. Set out your workout clothes the night before
This is another go-to move for Austin to get excited about exercise, and he’s hardly alone in finding it effective. A 2018 survey of 2,000 regular gym-goers found that nine out of 10 respondents agreed that wearing their gym clothes helped them feel motivated to exercise when they didn’t feel like it.
4. Don’t do workouts you don’t like
This may seem obvious, but thanks to the “no pain, no gain” mentality that has permeated fitness culture for so long, many people are still under the impression that exercise needs to feel punishing to be effective, and that’s simply not true. If you find something you enjoy in the first place, you’re more likely to stick to a fitness routine long-term.
5. Turn your movement practice into a gratitude practice
“When you change the perspective of working out to feel good, everything changes—it’s a mindset,” says Austin. Instead of “I have to,” try changing your thought process to “I can work” and “I can move my body.” Being able to feel gratitude improves our overall happiness, according to science.