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How to start exercising when you don’t like exercise

Exercise sucks when you’re not in great shape. There’s really no escaping that. Unfortunately, most of us know that any attempt to lose weight, get fit and live healthier is going to require some form of exercise. So, where to from here?

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably bought into the ‘no pain no gain’ and ‘go big or go home’ mentality in the past and launched yourself into a ridiculous exercise regimen in the hope of losing weight and getting fit…

…and it didn’t work.

Every time you’ve started some overly ambitious exercise plan with the goal of losing weight and getting fit, the harsh reality of what exercise really feels like has cut you down well before you’ve reached your goals.

As much as you want to exercise, as much as you know you need to exercise, the problem is you just don’t like it. It’s hard and it’s uncomfortable. You’re self-conscious about the way you look and you’re worried about what other people think of you.

But it seems like everywhere you turn there are people out exercising. How do they do it? Where do they find the motivation? The willpower? Do they have some extra gene that you don’t, a rare fitness chromosome?

There’s really only one thing that separates you from the people that appear to love exercise: they’re fit and you’re not.

I’ve come to learn that exercise sucks a whole lot less when you’re fit.

The good news is that getting fit and changing your relationship with exercise is entirely possible. It’s just going to take a slightly different approach.

Start by shifting your focus. Ditch the lofty end goals and stop comparing yourself with others.

Your first goal is simply to get to a place where any form of exercise doesn’t suck. And for that you just need to do a little and do it regularly.

So, when you’re just starting out don’t force yourself to do anything too hard. Forget about all those people out running and forget about torturing yourself at the gym. Start with something simple, like walking. I started with a 600m walk every day. That was three years ago and now I run to work each day.

As you get fitter, you start to enjoy pushing yourself a little harder. Over time everything just gets easier. But until you get there you just have to do something and do it regularly.

The key to exercising regularly is to make it so easy that you can’t make excuses not to do it.

Quick tips for getting started with exercise:

1. Start small, build from there

Don’t expect to become superhuman overnight. Start with baby steps and as you get better, do more.

2. Make it a habit

Make a plan to do it every day. If you find that you can’t or don’t want to. You’re still thinking too big. Reset your goal and make it easier.

3.   Make it fun or fit it into your existing routine

Exercise doesn’t have to resemble a ‘workout’ and it certainly doesn’t have to happen in the gym. I started with walking because it was easy but also because I could easily fit into my daily routine.

4.  Make it competitive

Competition can be a great motivator. My partner and I used to track how far we’d walked every week. Having bragging rights for the week is good!

5. Exercise your brain at the same time

A great side benefit of walking so much is that I discovered podcasts. Learning while you exercise is a double win.

6. Take the credit

No matter how small, regular exercise is an achievement. Recognise your accomplishment and allow yourself to take credit for being amazing!


Shane Gosnell

This blog is the opinion and experiences of its author and should not be taken as medical or dietetic advice. Healthy Food Guide has not verified the content and cannot endorse any advice given. Healthy Food Guide recommends seeking professional health advice for specific complaints or symptoms, or before undertaking a weight-loss program.

Date modified: 1 March 2021
First published: Feb 2016


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