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Question: How do I stop hating exercise?

oldier couple on bikes

A lot of Via Christi LIGHT clients tell me that they hate to exercise! During Via Christi LIGHT orientation, I let them know that’s OK, we only ask them to do the exercise they hate the least! If a person does not exercise, they cannot eat much without gaining weight. Exercise helps us to occasionally treat ourselves with food without gaining weight. It keeps our bones strong, our muscles active and our heart and mind healthy. Staying active is what is important!

You don’t have to join a gym to get enough physical activity to improve your health. There are a lot of ways to make regular activity a part of your life. Regular activity can help you have more energy, handle stress better, reduce your risk of illness and disease, and look and feel good! Most Americans – about 80 percent – don’t make exercise a regular habit, and many say it’s because they just don’t like it. 

  1. Find something you do like. Instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, find ways to exercise that fit your personality. If you’re social, take a group dance class, join a recreational sports team or start a walking group with friends. Connecting with people is a great way to stay motivated and avoid working out alone. If you are a lone wolf, running or swimming might be a better fit. If you love the outdoors, do not join a gym. Instead, walk, bike, hike, kayak or swim. If you are not a morning person, you are not likely to get up at 5 a.m. to exercise. Change your exercise time!
  2. Give it time. It can take a while for a new behavior to become a habit, so give yourself time to get into a regular routine. One way is to try to be active around the same time each day. Exercise can become addictive in a good way. Once it becomes a habit, you’ll miss it when you aren’t doing it.  
  3. Build it in. Build activity into your schedule and lifestyle so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Use biking, hiking, kayaking and walking as recreational activities with your family or friends. If you are talking to a friend on the phone, walk around the block.
  4. Break it up. It’s OK to break your physical activity up into smaller segments. The American Heart Association recommends a total of 150 minutes a week, but if that sounds overwhelming, try 2 or 3, 10-minute activity sessions most days of the week. It all adds up!
  5. Keep going. If you miss a workout, don’t worry about it. Everybody struggles occasionally. Just make sure you hit it again the next day. If what you’re doing isn’t working for you, revisit this list. You may need to try a different activity, different time of day or mix it up. Don’t give up!

Manhattan: viachristi.org/light
Wichita: viachristi.org/weightloss

About Ramona Stueve

Ramona Stueve, RN/CBN is a program nurse with Via Christi LIGHT in Manhattan.