How to Work Out If You Don’t Like Working Out
Exercise can be miserable sometimes. For a lot of us, it can feel like misery all of the time. If you’re one who cringes at the thought of mundanely running on a treadmill or picking up a weight over and over again, I’ve got great news: there are a ton of ways you can trick yourself into working out. Read on for a list of biohacks which will have you primed to work up a sweat—in a way that works for you.
And these tips work even if you’re a crazy person genuine athletic pro. If you’ve ever maintained a consistent workout schedule, you know some days are easier than others to get your heart pumping.
Regardless of your current activity level, give a few of these tips a go the next time you feel yourself sinking into the couch. [Side note: if you’re chronically tired, consult your physician. You may be experiencing lethargy, a symptom tied to a number of mild-to-serious conditions.]
The Many Ways to Trick Yourself into Working Out
Enjoy the Way You Move
Many people can’t stand gyms, and that’s just fine. Any way you can up your heart rate is a success, and you can get your fitness in without going near a barbell or elliptical:
- Make a playdate with the kids at a nearby park.
- Jog through the neighborhood with the family dog.
- Join a sports club.
- Swim at your local recreation center.
- Go on a fast-paced nature walk with your partner.
- Take the stairs, every time.
- Park further away or walk and bike, when possible.
- Leave your desk for lunch.
- Sneak in a few pushups or lunges for some upper and lower body exercise, when appropriate.
Pump Up the Volume
Music is an incredibly powerful tool. It’s nearly impossible to not air jam alongside Kansas or slow-croon a duet with Ella Fitzgerald. Up your motivation to get moving by donning your headphones and blasting your favorite tunes. Aim for something at or over 120 BPM—beats per minute. Lady Gaga’s Just Dance is 119 BPM, for reference. On the other end of the spectrum, avoid slow jams if you’re teetering between the gym and the jacuzzi—you’ll end up soaking every time.
Dress for the Occasion
Couch locked? Stand up (this is the hardest part), pony your hair, and throw on your favorite shorts, running shoes, and crop top. If you’ve ever worked out regularly, taking these steps will signal your body it’s go time, regardless of how amped you aren’t. This psychology effect is similar to getting butterflies in your stomach at the thought of skydiving, or your hands going clammy thinking about rock climbing. Changing clothes might not sound like much, but it’s one surprising way to trick your body into working out you’ve got to try.
Treat Yourself Right
You know that coffee shop you love? The one seeping with the scents of fresh-baked goods and your all-time favorite roast? Promise yourself you’ll stop by at the end of your run as a workout reward. Don’t go overboard with the sweet stuff, but a cup of joe and a few pieces of fruit are the perfect way to treat yourself for your hard work. Getting out of the house can be the largest mental block to exercise, so anything to get you up and at ‘em is a win.
Get It Done and Get on With It
Attitude toward exercise varies day by day and hour by hour. Try and check off your physical activity as early in the day as possible. On a busy morning it’s easy to look at the time between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. as flexible hours, but the last thing anyone wants to do after a long day and big dinner is move around too much. Be aware of your body’s cycle of ups and downs and work around it. I couldn’t dream of doing a single pullup before 9 a.m., but if I make time to move between then and 6 p.m., I’m golden.
When All Else Fails, Walk
Sometimes you’re just really, really, really not feeling it. That’s totally okay. Throw on an audiobook or podcast and walk the block. If it’s early enough to enjoy the sun setting, you’ll get that good sunshine vitamin with a lower risk of getting burned. And don’t feel bad—walking is the most studied form of exercise, and there is a load of benefits. Regular walking tends to lower blood pressure, improve mood, lessen stress, and balance blood sugar levels, among other plusses. Before you know it, you’ve listened to a great podcast and found another way to trick yourself into working out.
The Drive Starts Inside
With these tips in mind, you can make any day a healthy lifestyle win. I’ll leave you with one, final tip: the single best thing you can do for your workout mindset is to take care of your physical and mental self. Get plenty of sleep, drink enough water, avoid dehydrating stimulants like alcohol and caffeine in the evening, practice your own form of mindfulness, express conscious gratitude, and eat wholesome foods. All these steps boost your physiological self to feel up for exercise.
Keep moving, and before you know it you won’t even have to trick yourself into working out—you’ll look forward to it! Tell us your exercise successes in the comments below.