Do You Hate Exercise? Here Are 5 Ways You Can Heal Your Relationship With It

Do you hate to exercise? If so, you are not alone. We sure know how to suck the joy out of stuff, don’t we?

When we were kids, running around, moving our bodies, and playing games was something we wanted to do.

I can remember having the time of my life climbing trees, riding my bike on the neighborhood pathways, and playing hide and seek for hours. Exercise was fun.

Then we grew up and started making rules about it, pushing ourselves to do it even when we didn’t want to, and generally turning it into a chore rather than something to look forward to.

When you hate to exercise

Whether you’ve been forcing yourself to do it and making yourself miserable, or completely rebelling against it and not moving your body at all, exercise (or joyful movement, if you prefer) is something many people struggle with. Is it possible to stop hating exercise once you have reached this point?

Exercise affects both our physical and mental health in almost equal measure. Finding a way to move your body in a way that you enjoy and fits easily into your life can have a profound effect on your overall well-being — helping you feel confident, happy, relaxed, energetic, and strong.

However, it’s very easy to slip into the trap of doing it too much, pressuring yourself to always do more or to feel like movement doesn’t count unless it’s a certain level of intensity. Then it becomes painful, stressful, and miserable.

Shame and guilt

I can vividly remember sitting on a bench next to the path where I was “supposed” to take a 7-mile run one afternoon. Instead, I was sobbing uncontrollably. The pressure I had put on myself to stick to a rigid schedule literally made me snap.

It’s equally likely that you’re experiencing shame and guilt because you’re not moving at all or don’t think you’re doing enough. Possibly as a result of thinking you need to meet a certain standard and feeling like a failure.

My inner rebel has reared her beautiful head several times in my life. She made it literally impossible to do anything even remotely resembling exercise. For years, the most movement I got was walking back and forth from the bathroom to the sofa. And washing my hair counted as “arm day.”

You can end your hate for exercise

I’ve finally found a way to exercise in a way that I love and feels supportive of my body. The name of the game is flexibility, self-compassion, and fun.

If you’re ready to move your body again or find a way to make it more pleasurable keep reading. These tips will help you exercise in a way that works for your body, your schedule, and your preferences.

5 Tips to Help You Can Stop Your Hate for Exercise

1. Don’t do it

If you have the daily “I know I should but I really don’t want to” conversation- just take a break from it. Your inner rebel is making it really hard, and you might just need to give up on it for a while. You’re not doing it anyway, so you might as well not feel guilty about it.

2. Make it fun

If you decide to give it a go, find a way to do it that you actually enjoy. Give up all the numbers — like time, heart rate, and calories burned — and just let yourself play. Listen to music, a podcast, or a book on tape. Whatever feels good.

3. Find benefits not related to weight

Notice how movement gives you more energy, clears your mind, makes you sleep better. Experience how it relieves stress.

Have the intention to support and care for yourself rather than change yourself.

4. Stay flexible

Do it for however long feels right, in whatever way works for you that day.

Give up on goals and metrics, and just listen to your body.

Every day is not the same, and sometimes the right answer is to skip it.

5. Create a post-workout ritual that you look forward to

Maybe you sit in the grass and stretch, take a hot bath, or have a delicious meal. Pair your movement with something that you genuinely love, and you’ll be motivated to keep going.

Sometimes the most important thing you can do is relieve the pressure and stop forcing yourself to do it. Then, you can come back to it in a way that feels right.

(Last Updated: April 12, 2022)

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