How To Exercise Even When You Hate It

There's a biological reason for why we don't like to work out, but there are also many long term and harmful consequences.
April 13, 2020
8 mins read

Let me paint a picture for you. It is late at night on a Saturday and the only light in the room is the computer screen. YouTube is playing an exercise video and the person watching is in bed, ice cream and chips surrounding her. Instead of actually doing the exercises in the video, this person is tucked in, under the covers.

Hi, I’m that person.

Why We Don’t Want to Exercise

To explain why we need to exercise, we first need to understand it from a biological perspective. In primitive times, people were actively running around hunting for food as well as migrating across long distances when it got colder. People used to move and exercise, not because it was a choice, but because it was a necessity; they had to do it for survival.

In the 21st century, people don’t have to travel long distances by foot or hunt down a cow just to have a hamburger for lunch. We choose not to exercise because we don’t have to.

Very Well Fit notes that a reason we don’t exercise is because the consequences aren’t immediate. The choice not to exercise can lead to things like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues that can lessen our time here. When the consequences aren’t direct and when we choose not to do something about them, they become less of a concern in our mind. Binge-eating and lounging around all day create instant gratification, but the results of these bad habits can cause people to have horrible health effects in the long run.

The First Step Is Acceptance

Accepting the fact that your habits aren’t healthy and you need to start exercising is one of the first steps toward motivation, according to Thrillist. When taking steps to change your habits, you have to first understand that the habit is a bad one and doesn’t benefit you. This can be extremely hard. It’s easy to find comfort while cuddled up on the couch with your cat, wrapped up in a blanket watching a new Netflix series and Postmates warm in your belly. It’s nice, but cats have nine lives and we don’t, so it’s important that we make this the best life we live.

There is nothing wrong with relaxing from time to time. Everyone deserves to take a break. However, finding a good balance between relaxing and overindulging can be tricky. Once the balance between taking it easy and working out is maintained, it won’t be hard to motivate yourself to do the extra work for your health.

Start Small

There’s nothing wrong with being a little lazy, but once that’s understood, it can still be hard to start exercising. Jumping head first into the exercising side of things might leave you with a sore back and a vow to never exercise again.

A good starting point is to try to HIIT (high-intensity interval training) a few days out of the week. This method of exercise allows you to fit in a variety of different workouts in a short period of time. Doing this to start off will allow you to devote a small portion of your time to a good habit.

If you still find it troublesome to motivate yourself to do this short workout, consider bribing yourself. A good way to get things done is to promise yourself a reward or treat that is worth all of the work you’re about to put in. Your bribe can range anywhere from a cheat-day treat to another episode in the new TV show you’ve been watching.

You Don’t Have To Go to the Gym

A strong concept to understand early on is that you don’t need to have access to the gym in order to keep fit. For many people, the gym is actually a place that makes them feel bad for not achieving fitness goals that other gymgoers have already surpassed. Yes, the gym may have the equipment you would need to train for a bodybuilding competition; however, exercise doesn’t have to be that intense to keep yourself in good health and spirits.

If going to the gym gives you the motivation to exercise, then that’s the route that works best for you. But with the hesitation to exercise, it might feel strange to walk into the gym and try to use all of these foreign pieces of equipment. Staying home and doing a few YouTube video workouts can be a good alternative for people who want to stay in the comfort of their own home and save money by not paying membership fees.

Having an in-person or virtual trainer can give you the motivation to continue on this journey to a healthy lifestyle. Holding yourself accountable and having someone help guide you will make the transition to working out easier than doing it alone. If you don’t want a gym membership or a fancy trainer, then recruit your friends to start working out with you. Exercising in groups can often be more fun than doing it all by your lonesome.

Get Moving

Don’t think of exercising as a chore on your to-do list; think of it as something that keeps you healthy. Sometimes the end goal can be lost when our inner pleasure seeker wants to lounge around for a few weeks, even a few months. You cannot lose sight of the important things, so get up and walk around if you have the chance to.

Staying healthy can be as easy as walking to places that are a good distance away instead of driving everywhere. In addition to that, taking the stairs and walking for half an hour every other day will make a big difference.

Exercising is all about working to enhance your life and giving yourself more time to do the things that you love to do. Even though it seems hard to get started with, exercising can be easier when you have the motivation to give yourself a healthier life.

Kayla Placide, University at Buffalo

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Kayla Placide

University at Buffalo

Hello! My name is Kayla and I’m a freshman who is trying to pursue a future career in publishing YA books and fiction. My hobbies include reading, writing, gaming and playing music.

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