5 Ways To Find Joy in Exercising if You Hate Working Out

Photo: Getty Images/ Cecilie_Arcurs
So you hate working out, well, you’re not alone. A recent study of 2,000 Americans who frequently exercise found that 50 percent don’t enjoy breaking a sweat. In fact, 34 percent say they’d rather hand wash their dishes for the rest of their life, and 25 percent said texting their ex and even canceling their Netflix subscription for a year sounds more appealing.

But the fact of the matter is exercise is vital for your overall health and well-being. It helps minimize 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 each year and can help you live longer. So even if you hate it, it’s worth figuring out a way to learn to love getting moving. Here’s how to find joy in exercising if it doesn’t naturally spark such sensations.

Experts In This Article
  • Katie Austin, fitness personality, recipe developer, creator of the Katie Austin app, TV host, and Sports Illustrated model

1. Fake it till you make it

While lying is typically not the answer, in this case, go for it. “I’ve been lying to myself for years,” fitness trainer Katie Austin says. “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 gave it a go.” Either way, when the timer goes off, you’ll feel better for just giving it a go.

2. Make a schedule and stick to it

If you’re someone who loves a routine, this trick may just help you enjoy exercising more since you’ll have something to look forward to. “A lot of the time, people hate their workouts because they don't really know what they’re doing. A plan is key,” Austin says. “When I’m not feeling particularly motivated during the week, I put my workouts on my calendar so I can plan them.”

3. Set your workout clothes out the night before

This is another of Austin’s go-to moves for getting excited about exercise, and she’s hardly alone in finding it effective. A 2018 study of 2,000 regular gym-goers found that nine out of 10 respondents agreed that putting on their gym clothes helped them to feel motivated to work out when they’re not feeling up to it.

4. Don’t do workouts you don’t like

This may sound obvious, but thanks to the “no pain, no gain” mentality that permeating fitness culture for so long, a lot of folks are still under the impression that exercising needs to feel punitive to be effective, and that’s simply not true. You’re more likely to stick to fitness routine long-term if you find something you enjoy doing in the first place.

5. Turn your movement practice into a gratitude practice

“When you switch the perspective of working out to feel good, everything changes—it’s a mindset,” Austin says. Try switching your thought process to, “I get to work out,” and “I get to move my body,”  instead of, “I have to.” Being able to feel grateful improves our overall happiness, according to science.

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