Do you dread exercise? If so, you’re not alone. Many women view workouts as a “have to” instead of a “get to”. What if I told you that with a few simple tweaks you can actually enjoy working out? It’s true! Today I’m sharing three easy strategies for how to enjoy working out and how to make movement an integral part of your life (that you actually look forward to).
Does Working Out Have To Mean Going To The Gym?
Absolutely not! I like to use the word movement instead of exercise because it helps you think more creatively about how you move your body. Plus, it sets you free from the false belief that movement has to be in the form of structured, stereotypical exercise like running or going to a gym. It certainly can be those things, but there are countless other ways to incorporate movement into your life.
When we’re talking about movement, any way that you choose to move your body fits. It can be vacuuming the house, running around after your kids, or working in your garden.
How much exercise do you need?
The general recommendation is to get at least 150 minutes of movement per week to see long term health benefits. But you don’t have to wait – a single workout also has immediate positive effects like better mood, less stress, and a boost in body image.
Your movement can be divided over the day in whatever way works for you. For example, a 20 min run in the morning and a total of 10 min of taking the stairs at the office counts as your 30 minutes for the day.
Over time, moving your body regularly has huge health and wellbeing perks. Daily movement reduces the risk of chronic diseases, depression, cognitive decline, and boosts bone density, strength, mood. It’s also good for our gut microbiome, helps with appetite regulation, and helps us sleep better.
How To Enjoy Working Out
Now that you’re convinced that moving your body regularly is worth it, let’s look at a few proven strategies that will help you enjoy working out and make daily movement a lot easier.
1. Let pleasure be your guide
Studies show that when we engage in movement that we actually enjoy, we are more likely to sustain the habit of movement long-term. Moving in a way that feels good also deepens your connection with your body which helps you form that very important mind-body connection. This also means that the workout of choice will look a little different for everyone – no more cookie-cutter gym workouts. Finding movement you love might take a little experimentation. Here are some questions to help you identify movement that will actually stick.
How did you like to move your body as a child? The way we moved as children was almost certainly driven by pleasure and joy, and not by diet trends and calorie burn. Did you love to ride your bike, roller skate, jump on a trampoline, or play a team sport? You can resurrect any of these activities in adulthood. Get a mini trampoline for your living room or join a recreational volleyball team.
What is your movement style? Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than a packed group fitness class when you’d rather be solo or a stuffy indoor track when you’d rather be outside in the fresh air. Knowing the conditions under which you most enjoy working out will help you find the pleasure in it (and want to keep coming back for more). Do you prefer to exercise alone or in a group? Indoors or outdoors? Do you like high-intensity exercise or do you prefer something more low-impact? You can also think about how you want to feel post-workout. Do you want to feel calm, energized, or happily exhausted?
Make a list of workouts that you think will bring you the most pleasure (and the conditions you enjoy the most), and choose one to try in the next week.
2. Think of working out as simply sitting less
This sounds too simple to be effective, right? But simply sitting less is an excellent way to make daily movement more approachable. Less sitting comes with its own host of health benefits including improved circulation, better memory and brain health, a boosted metabolism, and lower risk of chronic diseases.
So, where in your day can you either reduce the amount that you sit or break up the periods of time that you sit? Standing desks or treadmill desks are great for this if you sit all day for work. If that’s not possible for you, incorporate trips to fill up your water bottle or take the stairs to a bathroom on a different floor. If you work from home or spend most days in your house, try getting up just 20 min earlier to take a quick walk before you start your day. I do this every weekday morning while I listen to a 15 minute daily news podcast. It reduces the amount of time I might sit and flip through news stories on my phone. Think of daily routines like this that you normally do sitting and try to do them on the move (or at least standing) instead.
3. Try coupling: pair workouts with another activity you enjoy
Pairing movement with something that you already enjoy doing will increase the likelihood that you will look forward to workouts! You’ll associate your workouts with the pleasure you get from a favorite hobby or activity like spending time with a friend or family member, watching a TV show, or listening to a podcast. Try a walking date to catch up with a friend or walk during meetings that don’t require you to be in front of a screen. Try walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike while watching a TV show. Spend time with family on a bike ride or hike. One of my favorites is to run or walk outside while listening to an audiobook or podcast.
Whether you call it movement, exercise, or workouts, it doesn’t have to be something you dread. Try these three strategies to actually enjoy working out and make movement part of your everyday life.