Exercise should not have to be enjoyable. To expect working out to provide fun may backfire.

Here are solutions to trying to find an exercise that’s fun.

I was inspired to write this article after reading in a weight loss forum a post by a woman who had not done any exercise for 11 years (but had been dieting — and unsuccessfully, for weight loss).

Her excuse for not exercising was that she couldn’t find something she could “enjoy.”

Really! LOOK, one of the biggest saboteurs of sticking to an exercise program is believing that you must enjoy exercise!

If we expected brushing our teeth, cleaning the house and balancing the checkbook to be “fun,” how many of us would actually stick to these important tasks?

How long could you hold a tedious job if you expected it to be enjoyable?

Go to a gym. Look at the hardbodies, the buff bodies, the people with the physiques you’d die for. Watch them work out. Are they having a good time?

Don’t confuse enjoyment of exercise with admiring one’s physique in the mirror.

There’s a huge bodybuilder at my gym who frequently pulls his shorts up super high and flexes his quads in a mirror. He just loves looking at himself.

But you should see him when he’s actually working out. He looks far from happy. He hates every second of it. He never looks sad when the set is completed.

You’re Not Supposed to Enjoy Exercise

• Where did this myth come from?

• I’m going to guess it came mostly from people who have a hard time sticking to exercise…though I’ve heard this mantra spill out of the mouths of fitness experts.

• Well, I’m a fitness expert, former personal trainer for a large health club chain, and I never told my clients, “You’re supposed to enjoy exercise.”

That’s a pretty tough burden to carry — believing you should love running hard and gasping for breath; straining to push a weight over your head; or trying to endure 30 seconds of squat jumps or stair dashes with a smile on your face.

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When you’re not able to live up to the expectation of enjoying exercise, you fail.

  • You lose hope.
  • It becomes despairing.
  • You feel like a FAILURE.
  • You give up.
  • You think something’s wrong with you because everyone else seems to enjoy their exercise regimen.

Hah! I bet they hate it just as much as you do — but the difference is that they have a more realistic perspective. They realize that exercise is not supposed to be fun!

Don’t Confuse Exercise with Enjoyable Physical Activity

There are physical activities that yield fitness results, including weight loss, such as scenic hikes, rock climbing, power volleyball, pickup basketball games, martial arts training, tennis, skiing and many more.

These activities can be quite fun and exciting to some people.

I love ascending talus slopes and running down tundra hills. I love climbing walls.

But geez, whom am I trying to kid when I say I love deadlifting heavy barbells?

I love that I’m able to. But that’s not the same as doing it. Whom am I trying to kid when I say I enjoy dashing up hills and being breathless at the top?

I dread the way it feels at the top. I love being able to, but…need I say more?

I enjoy the RESULTS. I love what exercise does for my body. But to love the actual exercise? Are you kidding?

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How to Stick to an Exercise Program if You Hate Exercise

• Stop trying to find an exercise you enjoy. This is a high expectation that may never come true.

• Accept the fact you’ll always hate working out if that’s how you’ve always felt.

• Once you bury this absurd myth, you’re on your way to sticking to a fitness regimen for life.

• A realistic approach is to find a workout plan that’s the least unpleasant.

For example, I hate lunges so much that I won’t do them at all, never. But I do another exercise that yields the same results: squats. And I don’t like them. But I enjoy that I can do them without knee pain. I enjoy that they give me results.

• Focus on what a workout program can do for your body; focus on the goal, the reward.

Stop trying to enjoy exercise any more than you’ve ever tried to enjoy changing diapers, cleaning the bathroom, pulling weeds or cutting up and rinsing vegetables.

This myth will defeat you if you’ve always “hated” working out. There are things in life that are not meant to be fun while you’re actually doing them.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer for Bally Total Fitness.
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