Before we get going, this blog also applies to those of you who exercise regularly, but may have those days when you just don’t have the mojo for it or are having a serious bout of wanting to sit around. You may want to let time drift by as you contemplate what’s for dinner. That sort of thing.
I suspect that sooner or later we all have those days, even if we like to exercise.
Types of Exercise Haters
On the other hand, there are a couple of groups that fall into the “hate to exercise” category.
There are people who work out for a while, but not enthusiastically. They know they “should”, so they do. Unfortunately, “should” doesn’t really cut it as a motivator for very long. Then maybe some life event happens, or they don’t see much happening to their bodies, or it’s just easier not to. These folks often never graduate from “I should” to “I can’t wait to exercise!” Perhaps they even notice that they feel better when they move more, but it’s still a matter of getting to the point where it is part of a lifestyle.
Then there’s the out-right haters, the exercise avoiders. Not saying these folks do nothing. They do chores, go about life. There just isn’t anything beyond that. These are the people looking for the elevator, the shortest distance to the store, or hanging out at the local spectator sport (possibly in their own living room). They have decided that “exercise” will probably not feel good, and couldn’t possibly be as good as hanging out with friends or using a computer.
In Defense of Exercise Haters
Having said all that, I am probably being unfair. There are lots of studies showing what happens when we sit around a lot. Our bodies slow down and they adapt quite well to sitting, so that once a person “settles in”, it can be very difficult to get up and about, whether it be a single occasion or a more generalized response.
Then there are body aches. There are previous injuries. There are all sorts of things that can make us think that “exercise” is not appealing at all.
Is there something that can be done about this?
Many things, actually.
In the “exercise biz”, there is a movement (pun) to get people to stop thinking about “exercise” and “working out” in order to relieve them of having to groan at the thought. Instead, they are touting the glories of a thing called NEAT.
That would be “Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis,” otherwise known as spending time during the day aiming to find ways to be more active.
In fact, studies have shown that this kind of thing can be good for your health! You do not have to get into the habit of going to the gym, or train for a 5K. You simply need to walk around more, be less efficient at getting chores done (meaning, add more steps), take your dog for longer walks, or even learn a few stretches to do after (or in the middle of) a bout of sitting.
The point here is to drop any preconceived notions of what “exercise” is and that it couldn’t possibly be any fun.
What about part-time exercisers?
What about the group that gets into it some of the time, but then fades? The ones that don’t like to exercise but will put up with it for a while? Is there a shift that can bring about less hate and more love? This is a little trickier, but it can be done.
For folks that have already been in the game, at least sometimes, there’s a few things to do that take advantage of good old human nature.
I will list them here, because it’s been shown that we humans like lists.
1. We can encourage others or ourselves to consider deeply what achievements we consider essential for ourselves. I would venture to say that many if not most of us value our health (especially as we get older). Then you can work backwards and make a list of what you are willing to do to achieve those essentials.
2. Rethink how you spend your time. In the business world and elsewhere, coaches suggest a thing called Time Blocking (this comes from Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work). Instead of a random walk through the day, block out hours when you do certain things. Of course, I am going to suggest blocking out exercise time. But it turns out you can even block out other things like goofing off. That way, whatever you block off is more likely to happen. AND it has a beginning and an end. That is really important. There is something key that goes along with this. Figure out how you are going to use your time in advance, like before you settle in, or turn on the TV or computer. “I’ll just watch this for 10 minutes” can turn into an afternoon.
3. Another aspect of human nature is that apparently we like to count things. Lots of people do this already. They monitor number of minutes exercising, calories consumed, and numbers on the scale. They count hours sleeping, steps taken, repetitions of lifting something, how many minutes it takes to get from A to B.
How can we use this to our advantage? In terms of exercise or working out, we can decide how many minutes we want to spend, or can spend, and go from there. All of our activities have a beginning and an end. They do not (and should not) take up the entire day. (I am sure you can think of a few exceptions, but in general this is true.) Even if you are not overly fond of exercise, you know that it will be over, and you can move on. You even have control over how long you want to go and when it can fit into your day.
This is for those of us who like working out but have decided to blow off a work out, just because. Sometimes, it is just what we need. Sometimes, we need the extra time to chill out and consider other things. Our lives change all the time, and sometimes we need to regroup. We will get back to it. The idea is to go with it, and not beat yourself up for being lazy or being afraid of losing your momentum. You like to exercise. It is a value that you have, something that feels good to you, and is a lifestyle.
So, keep moving! Who knows? If you hate it, you may come to love it, or at least find out it’s not so bad after all.
© 2021 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved