How to Build an Exercise Habit (when you hate exercising)

How to Build an Exercise Habit (when you hate exercising)

Are you someone who really doesn’t enjoy exercising?  Does the idea of exercising make you want to take a nap?  Maybe you’d rather chill out and drink a glass of wine when you get home from work as opposed to throwing on your running shoes and whipping out a 5k?

You are not alone.  We know we should exercise.  We know it’s good for us.  We know the statistics say we’ll live longer and that our health conditions will improve.  The studies, the Internet, doctors, our friends, even our dogs all want us to get up and just MOVE.  Be active.  Be fit.

Still the truth is: Knowing the facts doesn’t always translate into desire and motivation.

Let’s look at why a habit of exercise can be difficult:

The first thing most people do when they set an exercise goal is say something like:

  • “I’m going to exercise for an hour everyday.”
  • “I’m going to exercise for 45 minutes every weekday”
  • “I’ll get on the treadmill for 30 minutes every single day so I can lose weight and stay healthy.”
  • “I commit to working out and lifting weights for an hour, three times a week.”

What do statements like this have in common?  Well, sure, they are all very worthy goals.  Yet, they have something else in common:

For people just getting started or getting back to exercising: 30 minutes a day can be overwhelming.

30 minutes a day doesn’t seem like a lot, does it?  But your brain is more than likely hearing “30 minutes a day for the rest of my life! Holy Moly!” Or  “Lifting weights for an hour, three times a week for the next 5 years is impossible with my schedule!”   And “Exercise for 45 minutes a day every weekday?  There goes my lunch hour for the rest of my days…”

How to Build an Exercise Habit (when you hate exercising)

Often your brain already doubts you’ll stick to the goal before you ever start because you’ve tried before and something always happens.  You forget to exercise one day, you get sick, the kids get sick, you don’t sleep all night so you’re too exhausted to exercise the next morning and so on.

The point is:  30 minutes a day or even every other day might be daunting to your subconscious.  Even though you know that 30 minutes isn’t really a long time, you are smart enough to realize the commitment involved, right?  In real life, with real schedules, that’s a pretty serious chunk of your schedule.

So, start small and build up.  Five minutes a day may seem like it’s not worth your time.   But, dear reader, it truly is.  Because you can take those 5 minutes and build on them when you are ready.  Make “mini-goals” for your progress.  You can exercise for 5 minutes each day.  Eventually you’ll want to add to it.  One way to do this is by “graduating” every week.   For example, you might decide you are going to exercise for 5 minutes a day for one week.  Then the following week you add 5 minutes to the routine.   Or not.  Maybe your pace is more suited to adding 2 minutes to the routine.  Your end goal might be 30 minutes or 45 minutes on the days that you choose to exercise.

Your brain knows that you can do anything for 5 minutes a day.  So, start small.  Build up to a habit one minute, one heartbeat, one breath at a time.    Before you know it, you’ll reach the goal that once seemed impossible.

Discussion2 Comments

  • Gerald Rodgers Nov 10, 2015 

    No statistics showed in the initial email box. Just “synched” recently but now I cannot turn off my computer. Why is this so?

  • theresa truitt Nov 10, 2015 

    That is exactly how I started to work on my elliptical! I started with just a few minutes because that was all I could do! Then i built up to 5 minutes and then 7 minutes and then 10 every morning before i showered! Now after 2 months i do from 10-12 minutes and I started a weigh loss program ‘Weight Watchers’ and I have lost 13 pounds and now in the morning I want to get on the elliptical!! It really works!! Just a little at a time makes a habit! but first you have to JUST START!!