Whether it bores you, kills your knees, or takes up way too much time with the sweat-shower-repeat cycle, hating exercise does not make you a monster.
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes, five times a week of ‘moderate’ physical activity—basically anything that gets your heart pumping—but you can get away with less if you go hard. Two days per week is sufficient for good heart health if you are breaking a sweat for a longer period of time. If you are just starting out, don't let this intimidate you: any amount of exercise that is an increase from what you were doing previously is an improvement.
But wait, you hate exercise, right? So let's take that on. Here are three ways to overcome the 'I hate exercise' hump when you need to get moving:
1. Think about what you already like to do. If you hate running in the dead of summer or absorbing someone else’s sweat on a Thigh Master, good news: you don’t have to. Maybe your dislike of exercise stems from your belief that you must go to a gym or be miserable in order to get fit. Your body won’t change if you don’t break a sweat, but if you like to dance, wander through malls, work in your garden, tickle your kiddos, clean your house, swim, bowl, talk on the phone, or watch TV, all of these can be parlayed into exercise. More of this in next week’s post.
2. Be kind to your body. Have you consistently taken the time to warm and cool down properly? Jumping right into movement puts you at high risk for an injury, and can leave you with soreness that turns you off of exercise entirely. Warm up and cool down is not optional, and should add at least ten minutes to the beginning and ten minutes to the end of your workout; more if you're very out of shape.
3. Stop calling it exercise. If you don’t like ‘exercise’, don’t ‘exercise,’ just move. Anything that brings you joy and gets your heart working harder than it usually does is helping you on your way to a more fit body. The part about it bringing you joy is nonnegotiable—this is what will keep you coming back for more.
A big part of the health journey is taking time to ask whether the stories you have told yourself (or been told by others) are actually true. Do you truly hate moving your body? Are you not allowed to leave your house after dinner to go for a walk? Are you destined to have the body type that you have now forever? This story is yours. You get to rewrite the ending any time you want to.