Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
28 May

Dear Mark: I Hate to Exercise

Many of us enjoy exercise, probably more just tolerate it, but have you ever known someone to detest it with every fiber of their being? Today, we have a question from a reader with precisely that issue. She hates exercise, and even feels near to tears when she has to do it. Moreover, she doesn’t get the “high” that many of us – even the ones who would rather be doing something else – enjoy after a workout. Well, she’s not alone. Regular exercise is a major stumbling block for many of us, so let’s take a look at some general strategies those that hate exercise can employ, as well as new ways to think about and approach exercise. I don’t have any end all, be all answers, but I do have some good ideas. First, the question:

I think I saw this concern addressed on your blog, but I am not sure. I hate to exercise. There is something in me that just makes me want to cry when I have to do it. I never feel good after I do it. What is the answer? Desperately wanting to exercise, but just can’t.



Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. There is no one supplement to take. There’s no one exercise that works for everyone, everywhere, under any circumstance. That you’re “desperately wanting to exercise,” however, is a good start. Here are my suggestions for getting started and making it stick. Oh, and – most importantly – enjoying it!

Get a Workout Partner

More importantly than just finding someone who will workout with you, make a series of pacts with your buddy. First, if one person doesn’t show or backs out, the other person must also back out. Second, pledge to keep training until the other person stops. Research suggests that if someone else’s workout depends on yours, you will be more likely to exercise, so as not to disappoint or let down the other person. Drill sergeants have been doing essentially this for millennia – making the group suffer for the mistake of one in order to compel the one to shape up.

Tinker with Your Neural Reward System

Normally, the release of dopamine makes us feel good about completing a goal. That goal could be finishing a tough work assignment, winning a game of chess, or completing a hard workout. And the dopamine release, if it happens reliably enough, also helps us form (good and bad) habits. Is there something you love and enjoy every time you experience or obtain it? Maybe it’s an episode of your favorite TV show. Maybe it’s a long hot bath. Whatever it is, indulge yourself with a healthy reward every single time you work out. If you’ve ever trained a dog to do anything, this will be familiar. You might even feel a little silly, but don’t. We’re all animals, and we all respond to reward in similar ways. It’s just that some of us have already learned to associate exercise with neural reward. You probably haven’t, so you need to do a bit of formal entrainment. Eventually, you won’t need the reward anymore. Like a good dog no longer needs a treat in order to sit, stay, or come, you’ll come to associate exercise with its own inherent reward – especially after seeing the results.

Make Your Short Workouts Shorter and More Intense

I say this a lot, and for good reason: acute bouts of ultra-intense training is more effective and, unsurprisingly, more neurally rewarding. What does this mean, in real world terms? Increase the intensity and reduce the volume. Lift more weight, not more reps. Run (or bike, or crawl, or swim) as fast as you can for a short period of time, not pretty fast for a long period of time.

Just Move and Play

You say you hate “exercise.” That’s fine; lots of people hate it. But what about movement in general? Is there any physical activity you can bear? Walking? Gardening? Hiking? Rock climbing? Playing catch? Frisbee? I refuse to believe that any and all types of physical undertaking make you miserable. If you can find the will to get up out of bed and walk to the kitchen for breakfast in the morning without crying, you can walk a little farther – say, around the block several times – as well. Don’t worry about calories or reps or weight or the next guy. Just move and play.

Relearn the Meaning of Exercise

While I’ve always been active, there was a time when I hated – truly hated – what I considered to be the optimal form of exercise. Back when I was an endurance athlete, running marathons and then competing in triathlons, I began to hate my training. I was fit and active and thought I was doing the best thing I could for my body, but I really dreaded working out. Eventually, I realized that not only was my training unpleasant and miserable, it was also extremely unhealthy. That revelation forced me to relearn the meaning of exercise. I had to move, I had to train somehow, but I couldn’t continue on my current trajectory. I had to start all over and accept that maybe, just maybe it would be okay to take it easy and lift some weights, move really fast for short periods of time, and take actual rest days. Once I accepted that exercise didn’t have to miserable to be effective, everything fell into place.

Examine Your Past

Your disdain for exercise may be long-held and deep-seated. Perhaps your gym classes as a kid were particularly brutal and unforgiving, and you just learned to associate exercise with misery. I felt that way, early on in my school career. But amidst all the wedgies and purple nurples and teasing, I learned to love exercise by finding something I loved to do (and something I was already doing on my own as a kid): running. Ironically, I hate running distance nowadays, but my love for movement in general has never waned. Look back to and face down a precipitating event – if one indeed exists. Identifying it may be enough to start the road to recovery.

Try Different Modalities

Some need more regimentation, direction, and structure to their exercise. Some need more freedom, randomization, and boundlessness. Many people do better at the gym and laze around at home; others never quite get over their self-consciousness and instead prefer working out solitarily, whether that’s in the garage or at a secluded spot in the park. I’m a big fan of both slow-moving high intensity training, a la Body By Science, as well as something as seemingly intuitive but sneakily periodized and systematic as MovNat. If you dislike training and want it to be over with as quickly as possible while remaining effective, try Body by Science, explained here in a guest post by Dr. Doug McGuff (its creator). If you hate training but want to love it, try a MovNat 1-day class (described here by a Worker Bee who attended one). I challenge you to try MovNat and not want to move often and move well.

This will sound cliche, but you need to broaden your horizons. You may end up hating each and every one of the workout modalities you try, but you cannot know that until you actually try one. Good luck! And remember, you just have to move!

Feel free, folks, to chime in with whatever worked for you. Specific movements, training regimens, strategies, different ways to think about exercise, that sort of thing. Oftentimes the best stuff comes up in the comment section, and I hope this time is no different!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. If someone hates exercise, I think one of the easiest things to do is start “playing” instead. I once heard Mark say, “I do two hard workouts a week; they take anywhere from 17 to 35 minutes. I do one sprint workout a week. I fill the rest of the time in with play. I try to find ways that I can move my body to have fun; not to be staring at some LED readout hoping I get up to 475 to earn a bagel when I get home.” I imagine everyone has to have some forms of activities that they enjoy, whether it’s throwing a tennis ball with your dog, or walking around the mall shopping.

    AJ wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • I used to feel guilty for hating exercise, then I read ‘The Myth of Cardiovascular Health From Exercise’ and now I thoroughly enjoy avoiding exercise every chance I get!

      “The truth is that, at best, exercise slightly prolongs the time before a heart attack – it can’t and doesn’t prevent one.

      We are all told constantly that exercise prevents heart disease. WRONG.
      “The evidence is unassailable – coronary heart disease develops and progresses during training. Exercisers die of heart disease despite exercise.”1

      We are told that running to get the heart rate up is ideal exercise. WRONG. “Running injuries are especially common [particularly the knees]. If you weight 150 pounds then you endure over 100 tons of force per mile [through the knees, etc.].”2

      We are told that everyone is becoming unhealthy due to inactivity. WRONG. “ [Y]ou must be truly sedentary – a slug who sits or lies about all day long or barely crawls out of bed – to be at any risk from inactivity.”3 This is why house cats eating a proper carnivore diet maintain perfect weight and perfect health despite little activity and often despite sleeping virtually all day.

      We are told that exercise makes you live longer. WRONG again. “There is no relationship at all between activity and lifespan – none.”4”

      For more & to see the references cited just google the article title above.

      cancerclasses wrote on May 28th, 2012
      • Well, who said the purpose of exercising was to save you from heart disease? If you eat unhelathy foods, nothing will save you from a bitter end. But eating healthy stuff is not enough for many. I want to be strong, muscular, functional and resilient. Moreover, exercise makes me feel good. Since I have a sedentary job, exercise helps me to prevent muscle and strength loss . And to the topic: I don’t think Mary wants to exercise badly. Matter of fact she hates the thing and is trying to convince herself, that she badly wants to do it. If I want something badly, then I go after it no matter what and everybody better get out of my way! So I would start first of all with being honest to myself. Ok, let’s admit I hate exercise and I don’t want to do it. What other ways are there to get into shape or stay in shappe without having to formally exercise? This is a starting point, and once Mary gets there, she will come to the idea of play. My wife hates to exercise too, but she loves to play badminton…

        einstein wrote on May 30th, 2012
      • Exercise and living longer may not work for some, but keeps leg circulation up. Main reason for me: muscle toning (wt lifting, pushups, etc) biking, tubing exercises.

        laura m. wrote on May 30th, 2012
      • Exercise for the sake of exercise is boring. I’ve long detested anything approaching calisthenics. I’ve belonged to gym after gym over the years, always gung-ho in the beginning, then dropping out after a few months, bored to death with it.

        So what’s the answer? Obviously, it varies from person to person. For me it’s been a stationary bike in the living room. I don’t watch all that much TV because most of it sucks. However, finding some dumb program to focus my mind on while I pedal and do sprints on the bike seems to fill the bill. I can’t say I love it, but I don’t hate it either. You just have to find something that works for you.

        I once had a doctor who was basically all wet about a lot of things. She did however tell me one thing that I’ve never forgotten. She said, “If there is such a thing as a magic bullet, it’s to just keep moving.” That’s what I do. I walk, frequently climb the stairs in my 4-level house, ride my bike, park at the back of every parking lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator…and just keep moving. Otherwise I don’t worry about it any more.

        Shary wrote on August 23rd, 2012
    • I hate to exercise, as well, and the only thing keeping the weight off is my diet- but I’m plateauing now and dreading the fact that I have to get into a routine. “Play” is exactly the thing keeping me active. I have to focus on something fun in order to get out and do something. Granted, I live 5 minutes from the beach, but I’m finding ways to get out like biking (on a cruiser, yes…), walking to the store, beach volleyball, and I’m looking into aerial fitness. Sounds fun, and that’s the only thing keeping me from sitting on my ass, so I’m okay with it. Do what is fun and “play”. Only way to keep yourself active. GL.

      Sonya wrote on June 3rd, 2012
    • I used to hate the idea of exercise too, was never any good at (nor interested in) sports at school. I dabbled in martial arts, but never took any physical activity seriously

      It was only after age 30 that a mate of mine got me in to rock climbing, then I found parkour, and renewed my interest in kungfu.

      So, I heartily agree with the idea of finding ways to make fitness FUN. It just requires trying some different activities. Playing with your kids or dog, catching a pick-up game of ultimate frisbee, orienteering – there are so many amazing ways to be active, just find what you enjoy, and forget about the dreaded “exercise”.

      just_chris wrote on September 14th, 2012
  2. I had a friend who once told me it should be easy for me to lose weight because losing weight involved “not doing something” and he said I was the master of “not doing anything”!

    Groktimus Primal wrote on May 28th, 2012
  3. I used to hate exercise. The whole time I couldn’t help but focus on how awful it felt; my breathing, every aching muscle. 5 minutes felt like an eternity.
    I learned I need either to play a game – like tennis – so I can focus on the game. Or else I watch tv while exercising. I put my iPad on my exercise bike console and I am sufficiently distracted.
    Recently I started doing bike sprints, and I love the idea of going all out for 30 seconds and then taking it easy. It’s easy to psych myself up for 3 min total of hard work! (30 sec x 6 sprints)

    Camille wrote on May 28th, 2012
  4. Personally, the best piece of exercise equipment I have is a “Skipper”.

    Skipper has four legs and a tail. Skipper loves playing frisbie, catch, and just strolling through the neighborhood. I take Skipper out several times a day to walk or play. Skipper is always up for a good time.

    Skipper is also my security system, early warning system, alarm clock, constant companion, and friend.

    I’m convinced I’d be at least a year older if I didn’t have Skipper.

    Jackson Hydra wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • I have a Bugsy. I’m just jealous of all the naps he gets 😉

      peggy wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • I’ve found my Kali worked in the manner you described until she was about 12. Now she only wants to play for a maximum of five minutes, will only go on leisurely strolls instead of hikes, sleeps in when I get up in the morning, and lets me get the doorbell when it rings.

      Still wouldn’t trade her for the world, but exercise-wise, now that she’s 13.5 years young, I basically have to take her for her exercise then go do my own. Something for potential dog owners to take into consideration :)

      Rachel wrote on May 28th, 2012
      • Rachel, thanks for sharing this. Whenever having a dog is mentioned as a great way to get exercise I want to discuss life with a very senior companion. (Not that I think there’s anything wrong with being active with a canine companion, there’s everything RIGHT with it. I just think its important to consider our companion’s entire life span.)

        I have a 16 year old border collie (vet says he’s equivalent to 96 years old in ‘human’ years). He loves his walks, but they are shorter in time, distance and pace. He is dead serious about stopping to smell ALL the flowers. :-)

        It has taken me a while to get my head around going for walks without him, after 13 years of walking with him, heading out the door without him just felt wrong! I consider our time together to be fresh air and sunlight time, and a great inspiration about how I’d like to be when I’m old and creaky. :-)

        Saro Jane wrote on June 17th, 2012
        • Those of you with older dogs could do walking lunges and similar exercises if you DO want it to count for your exercise. I don’t think the doggies would mind. They may look at you funny.

          Kristy wrote on November 1st, 2012
    • I really, really liked your comment.

      spayne wrote on May 29th, 2012
    • I agree wholeheartedly. I have Bill and Syd. They get me out in all weathers and knowing that they’re enjoying it so much makes me enjoy it too, even if I really didn’t feel like going for a walk, or playing with a frisbee. If it’s at all practical (but definitely not if it isn’t) a dog is the best incentive to playful exercise ever (and an amazing teacher in so many other ways too).

      Liz wrote on May 30th, 2012
    • Love this! I have a piece of exercise equipment named Brisa.

      The cool thing about Brisa is that she’s part Greyhound, so she hates to jog long distances and LOVES to sprint! She’s a fantastic motivator for me.

      Ashley wrote on May 31st, 2012
      • Same with my drill sergeants, Araley and Dexter, only they’re full greyhounds. However, I’ve found that if I build them up throughout the spring, by the middle of the summer, we’re doing leisurely 10km walks with no complaints (provided we avoid the hottest part of the day and I bring plenty of water for them. Of course, carrying all that water also helps me. The downside is that they HATE the cold and so I have to find other ways to get moving in the winter – but the walk to the bus gets harder because of the snow and I can generally talk my husband into something like dancing that is sufficiently indoors and warm.

        To the original questioner – I think Mark’s fourth point has been the key for me. I HATE some forms of exercise – I can’t run (asthma), am a failure at biking (too long of legs and short of a torso means always taking a position that aggravates my asthma) and don’t enjoy most sports (no hand-eye/foot-eye coordination. I do love taking my dogs for walks and playing with them, swimming, dancing and cooking. All of these can be excellent ways to exercise without really noticing that you’re exercising (although with the cooking, I generally have to distribute my efforts at work so that I don’t eat it all, but that does mean all my co-workers love me for bringing in lovely treats a couple times a week). Sometimes you can even combine “work-outs” – I love to put on some music and dance around the kitchen while baking or cooking. In the end, though, it does the same for me that traditional work-outs would, only with more fun. Vigorously mixing or whipping something takes a lot of arm strength and I make sure to use both hands. Playing tug-of-war with my dogs works my core wonderfully. Dancing can really help work my legs. Swimming is pretty good overall. Because I enjoy it, though, I do it more often, which is the real benefit – even if it’s a little less work, if I do it four times to the once I’d do a regular work-out, I’m still doing more.

        Samantha wrote on June 2nd, 2012
    • +++++. I recently slowly lost my dog of 16+ years old age primarily and cancer and it has had a woeful impact on my activity level not to mention gutting me spiritually. Even when he was no longer active, he kept me active carrying him in/out of the house etc. The big take home for me is I *need* a dog. I am the quintessential dog person for sure.

      Marty wrote on November 30th, 2012
  5. Hmm.. for someone who hates to exercise, I think the best recommendation is something that doesn’t feel like exercise–you don’t need a special outfit, a special place, or to sweat or suffer pain and fatigue.

    I’m talking about… WALKING. There was a great book many years ago called “The 200 Calorie Solution” by Martin Katahn, an obesity researcher in Nashville. He recommended increasing your activity by roughly 200 calories a day, or the equivalent of a 45-minute walk.

    Yeah, it’s not glamorous and doesn’t sound as “cool” as playing with tires or doing a WOD… but it WORKS.

    And the nice thing about walking is that you can do it fast or slow… wearing whatever comfortable shoes you like. Window-shopping counts!

    Plus, the discipline translates over to more strenuous workouts. If you can get yourself into mode where you walk 4-5 times per week for 45 minutes…. it starts to get easier to switch out one of those walks for a swim, or a short session at the gym, or some yoga.

    So my advice would be to start by walking. Nothing more. Just a short walk every day (or most every day). After a few weeks, move up to a 45-minute walk most days.

    And then over time, you can get fancy… work out less often, but harder… try different things… etc.

    ZippyChick wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • This isn’t much different from what I read in French Women Don’t Get Fat. The author states that most french women despise gyms and instead look for easy, natural movements i.e. walking to market… walking anywhere really. Also, many will employ simple body weight movements for morning exercise that is neither strenuous nor complicated.

      Emily Mekeel wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • You wrote everything I would advise – I couldn’t say it better. WALKING was how I started 25 years ago. Not cool: I pursued it in stealth off campus, but it started a revolution… Gosh, my husband still goads me about how I hated exercise so much at the start of college, and as a result was so out of shape, I couldn’t even walk up the hill on his street without resting!

      Paula wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • That’s exactly what I’ve been doing all along, but I didn’t know the science behind it! This makes so much sense to me.
      I used to be into crossfit, weightlifting and some running. Despite my fairly active lifestyle I had’nt been able to shed those pounds.
      Six months ago, I had to refrain from training due to (what else?) training injury, so I just started walking to work -about 40-60 minutes daily, sometimes much more, and usually carrying an 8-10 lb weight.
      Of course loss of appetite might have been a contributing factor, but within a month I lost about 5 pounds completely effortessly. I am pretty positive I haven’t loss muscle in the process, since I was doing A LOT of resistance training in physiotherapy.
      While on vacation, I swam, walked and/or hiked daily for 3 weeks, despite gorging on carbs.
      Now, I continue to walk 5 miles 3-4 times a week, I run or bike maybe once a week and do 30 minutes of (solo) strength training every day. I like this routine so much that I’m even considering quiting crossfit entirely!
      Also, I enjoy being active with my significant other: we hike, bike, run, and swim together, and we are now considering taking some wall climbing lessons as a couple.

      Nikolitsa wrote on September 25th, 2014
  6. I hate exercise! Absolutely, unequivocally, with ever fiber of my being. The two main reasons are that the unrelenting teasing I endured as a child left huge emotionally-charged memories around it, and I sweat like a horse after the Derby (which grosses me out).

    But a little over a year ago, I decided that if I was going to get a dog (which I really, REALLY wanted to do), I would absolutely have to get over my deep-seated disgust.

    Enter Gruff, Feb. 2011. Ever since, I have walked at least 1 hour per day, 30 minutes in the morning and at least 30 minutes at night.

    I don’t really “enjoy” the exercise part in and of itself, but I get pure joy watching him love his walks and I will never deny him that. I have come to appreciate the cool breezes, the birdsong, and getting some sunlight for my Vitamin D needs. All of those things have worked as motivators for me.

    Like Mark said, you can’t let your workout buddy down!

    Peggy C wrote on May 28th, 2012
  7. I passionately hate running. It has more to do with injuries and weight than anything else. I’m clumsy and accident prone and have torn up my ankles as a result. I used to like running as a child, more because I was fast and agile. Then came puberty and large breasts made running feel like I was counteracting a pendulum. I had drill sergents laughing at me (I was in the Army for 8 years) because my chest behaved as though it would knock me senseless when I ran. The right bra helped significantly but the compression of the bra not only compressed my chest but my lungs too – I don’t think people really take this into consideration.

    In high school for a senior project I took on learning Martial Arts. I got to explore several styles as really enjoyed how easy, simple, and structured it was. A lot of the learning was done at the students pace and advancement didn’t happen until the movements were learned.

    I tried the gym off and on for years but found it boring and more like people were just showing off or showing to others that they were exercising. I didn’t see people having fun or laughing. It was all deadly serious and emotionally draining. I could just hear people thinking thoughts of negativity (I wish I could look more like that guy, a few more reps and I’ll have worked off that candy bar, I wish my coworkers would notice all this hard work and say something nice tomorrow, etc.).

    Eventually, I found a martial art school that had a lot of variety and wasn’t focused on selling me self-defense (I had two brothers and had been in the military, I didn’t need it). I spent five years there and obtained a black belt. I hated sparring but I loved grappling. I loved learning new patterns and getting my body to move in ways I didn’t know it could (spin jump roundhouse kick?). It was so empowering to get to know my body. Grappling was by far the best class as I learned how to roll (this is hard for adults) and defend myself while on the ground on my back (reminded me of my brothers). I learned that it wasn’t about strength but leverage and that I could flip a 300lb guy with a flick of the wrist and a sweep with my leg. It was like pushing someone over when they were already off balance, easy. And the icing on the cake was making friends and hanging out before and after class.

    Find something you like, enjoy doing and is fun. It doesn’t have to be a traditional model of exercise.

    Jana wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • Wow, great imput! Thanks.
      I had the same problem with running, until I managed to lose some weight. I also find your description of the gym so true and hillarious. It’s pure misery in there. I only enjoyed my spinning class, sprints being my favourite part of the workout!

      Nikolitsa wrote on September 25th, 2014
  8. Exercise makes me physically ill. Ten minutes of walking at a slow pace gives me DOMS to the point that I can’t walk at all the next day. Fifteen minutes of dancing (my favorite play) and I am nauseated to the point I can’t eat for the rest of the day. Serious exercise for more than fifteen minutes (especially in the heat) and I’m laid up with flu-like symptoms for three days.

    I do it anyway, the low-level stuff, and dancing a couple times a week because I keep hoping my strength will build up eventually and I’ll become stronger and able to do more. It’s been three years and I’m not seeing any improvement. But I do LOVE to dance.

    Mamachibi wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • “Ten minutes of walking at a slow pace gives me DOMS to the point that I can’t walk at all the next day”

      Seriously?? Are you adequately hydrated when you walk?

      mars wrote on May 28th, 2012
      • Yes, if anything I have to fight overhydrating.

        Mamachibi wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • I just heard about exercise allergies – try some benadryl during or after and see it it eases?

      Meredith wrote on May 28th, 2012
      • Oooh! Thanks! I’ll try that!

        Mamachibi wrote on May 28th, 2012
        • Could it be a balance issue, like the inner ear?

          Heather wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • If you can do something you enjoy – or find (or at least try) something you enjoy, such as dancing or bushwalking/hiking, look at this as doing something you enjoy doing, don’t look at it as exercise. Find like minded people doing these and before you know it, a social event such as dancing or bushwalking will be enjoyable and you will be “exercising” without realising it. Start with something low impact. You don’t have start with olympic lifting or crossfit or puking up to be classified as exercising. Just find an easy way to move and do it often.

      Anthony wrote on May 28th, 2012
      • Agree with the person who said balance issue. Nausea is usually ear related

        AlyieCat wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • I think you might want to talk to a physician about your symptoms. You need to rule out an underactive thyroid, muscle inflammation (myositis), myasthenia gravis, vitamin D deficiency and a bunch of rarer things including lupus or a connective tissue disorder.

      Zoe wrote on May 29th, 2012
      • Very good point. I can just relate to an underactive thyroid, but it gave me the exact same symptoms you’re suffering from right now.

        The point I was able to start exercising seriously was the day after my thyroid medication started. And btw, thanks to Primal eating I’m medication-free at the moment!

        Isabel wrote on May 29th, 2012
    • I just posted about the same thing, happens to my daughter, we found she was allergic to lactic acid. We haven’t found a way of healing her body yet to reconfigure those brain signals to stop attacking the lactic acid, but I hear it can take years. We were told to avoid over exertion (exercise), sweating (heat), and all forms of lactic acid from diary and non dairy sources (basically found in processed foods, some deli meat, and some health products). Traditional medicine hasn’t worked for us, we are finding homeopathic solutions are working better for us. Good luck finding answers to your particular case!

      Leah wrote on May 29th, 2012
      • Just read your post, and I am really interested to hear how one would attempt to diagnose an allergic reaction or sensitivity to lactic acid. My daughter has always hated strenuous physical activity, but since she started a rigorous strength and fitness program as part of her regular high school PE classes, she is downright miserable most of the time, including prolonged periods of severe muscle aches, nausea during and immediately after exercise, and diarrhea for several days after severe muscle pain has subsided. I am starting to sort out food allergies (we know about lactose intolerance so far) , and I would like to include lactic acid in my explorations as to what’s going on.

        Irene Weiland wrote on December 17th, 2013
    • Have you seen a Dr about this? How are your cortisol levels?

      Heather wrote on May 29th, 2012
  9. I went for a couple years on not liking exercise; even though I had liked it most of my life. One of the things that got me back into the groove was music. …lose yourself in your songs, and you will soon associate that feeling with working out. Also, this may not be Paleo/primal, but a big dose of caffeine (maybe 5 Hour Energy) right before a work out can give you the mental boost you need.

    Would love to see a follow-up from whomever wrote this letter on what worked or didn’t work.

    Steve wrote on May 28th, 2012
  10. Even though it may take the fun out of it, if you think of it like a job it helps. You’re not going to just not go to your job for weeks or no call no show and expect to get “paid.”

    Also, personally I’m on an MMA team, so on my iPhone I put our team logo as my lock screen. Every single time I check my phone, I see it (and all of us iPhone addicts know that’s every 2 seconds); it’s constantly in my face. There are days I hurt or I’m tired or work stressed me out, but seeing that on my phone gets my butt there. Maybe put a motivational quote or picture somewhere you look often (phone, computer, mirror, etc.)-like a visual affirmation statement.

    Below are a few that I like and have on my phone for motivation:

    If you’re on facebook, add some of the fitness motivation pages that will post motivational quotes or images so whenever you’re sitting around on the computer, it’s again in your face.

    Amy wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • Really liked the last picture, the one that says “The only worthy rest is the one that you earn”. Makes me feel a bit spoiled!

      Vlad wrote on May 30th, 2012
  11. through, i was able to find the following groups in my area:

    -trail running;
    -rock climbing; and

    all groups had events geared towards newbies and almost al events were free.

    Dan wrote on May 28th, 2012
  12. I hated excercise after being pushed into competitive sports as a child, and being horrible at it. Which meant a string of verbal abuse from coaches and a few public ‘kicking out’ of the competitive activities. I grew up in Eastern Europe, where if you were not good at it, you got cut. There was no touchy-filly ‘sports for all’. When I started to work out to lose weight, I first had to fight the feeling of embarrassment and unease. But, gradually, I came to accept that, yeah, I am below average performer, but that’s Okay! I tried many, many, many things, and settled on the ones I love doing. I love barbell, I love kettlebells… I learned to run at the ripe age of 35 (!). It was the hardest thing i did, but now I run easily, one time a week for fun, on the trails, and one time – sprints. Other days I swim, go on an elliptical or a bike, walk, do whatever I feel like. Last week I bought inline skates. I crossed my drive-way three times so far. The main thing for me is to keep the attitude of: “I will do what I WANT and CAN do.” Many a day I employ the “Just go and stretch or go to the steam room” strategy. Meaning I go to the gym to do something pleasant, but normally the pump lifts me up, and I put in something fun. And if not… no biggie.

    Gym, in my view, is a huge thing. We have a wonderful rec facility in the neighborhood, and I know a lot of regulars, and it is fun to go.

    Another thing is to weave moving into daily schedule. Most days I do not drive to the bus station. I walk. Takes 30 min one way with hills. Beautiful during the sunrise!

    leida wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • Same here. I was pushed into competitive sports (winter and summer) my entire life. Growing up in Europe isn’t as laid back and easy as it is in the US. In Germany, if you fail, there is no 2nd chance, no ‘sports for all’, no ‘everybody is a winner’ mentality. Same goes for jobs, when you need a college degree to get a job as a toilet scrubber, it’s pretty bad!

      My exercise is chopping wood, gardening, hiking, occassionally climb a tree, kick a ball around, walk my dogs and spending many hours in the kitchen preparing meals.

      I’m not the type that runs long distances.

      Arty wrote on May 29th, 2012
  13. Most of my life was spent trying/avoiding exercise due to extreme nausea. I now do the weekly (for one year now-started at age 48) Body By Science of Dr. McGuff’s with a trainer and LOVE the results (along with Primal eating!). Lost 35 pounds in that year and after about 6 weeks no more nausea. They say it might have been an inability to offload CO2 during the workout, but my body has adjusted. I can’t say I “love” the workout, but I know it will be over in 15 minutes and it’s only once a week. I do sprints half-way through the week. Try it for a few weeks, and good luck!

    Mark wrote on May 28th, 2012
  14. I would also add that as you experiment with different protocols and methods, don’t expect something to be perfect or to “fit” the first time you try it.

    When something is new, it’s easy to find it less enjoyable because you don’t feel comfortable or knowledgeable doing it. Give yourself a chance to get comfortable with a movement or protocol before completely dismissing that it’s not for you. Soon you may find yourself enjoying it in your quest to master it.

    Best of luck.

    Ldubbs wrote on May 28th, 2012
  15. This rings a bell for me! I also hate exercising. I’ve tried, over the years, different ways of getting myself to exercise on a regular basis, but everything failed because it was EXERCISE. It got to the point where it made me angry to even think about getting on my treadmill or going for a walk around my neighborhood. It wasn’t fun, it didn’t feel good, I wasn’t seeing the benefit.

    Then I started hiking. I try to hike at least twice a month, but I go more if I can find the time and talk someone into going with me. My most frequent partner says she can tell how much stronger I am now than I was when we started.

    The difference is the focus. The treadmill was hateful because it was “good” for me, because I was supposed to be doing it. Hiking is about seeing something cool that you can’t get to by driving, being out under the trees, seeing the seasons change, hanging out with friends. It just so happens that I found something I love doing that also makes me stronger.

    I’ve started walking with my kids too, more recently. The neighborhood isn’t so dull with them in tow. I started because my son had been sick for a few weeks and I could tell how weak he’d gotten. I’ve already seen improvement in his endurance and my next plan is to start sprinting with him. Chasing down my ten year old (or making him chase me!) is more fun than grinding away on a treadmill!

    Sarah Jane wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • Great advice! I love hiking too, especially with the good company of my fiance and my dog.
      Have you tried moutain biking? It’s so fun! Get on a somewhat easy trail and the kids will love it. It’s such a great whole body workout. You can also try wall climbing or horseback riding lessons. Both are fun activities that engage the whole body and improve coordination and balance. Also, climbing a wall as a family teaches kids (and adults even!) the value of teamwork and cooperation. And horseback riding can be very therapeutic, as it allows you to get in tune with the psyche of another living creature, thereby discovering your own primal side.

      Nikolitsa wrote on September 25th, 2014
  16. I hate exercise, too. I hate to sweat and something in my genes makes me sweat…. A LOT (my dad does,too). But, as with Jana, I found martial arts and it just speaks to me. I started at age 45 and got my black belt (in taekwondo) at age 48. I find martial arts to be very empowering for women especially. And I sweat, more than most anyone in my class, but I love it so I deal with it. The key is to just keep looking and trying things until you find something you love. Then you won’t feel like crying when you think of doing it.

    Mary wrote on May 28th, 2012
  17. Adopt a dog! Best trainer and motivator ever!

    mars wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • Absolutely. Dog is the perfect solution. You’ll have so much fun with your dog in the park! Adopt some lab-mix mutt from the pound and spend the next 15 years happily playing Frisbee. These mutts are just total love-bombs; you can’t help but feel great playing with them.

      LostMeHere wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • And what about people who are allergic to dogs, or don’t like the way they act or smell?

      Awua wrote on February 16th, 2013
      • Then just don’t get a dog! You could adopt a different kind of pet, although you’d be hard pressed to find an animal who doesn’t act or smell weird.

        Nikolitsa wrote on September 25th, 2014
  18. What was your experience with exercise when you were a kid? I spent all my school years dreading gym, being told I was clumsy and untalented, being punished every class with harassment or being picked last, yada yada. I spent all my summers and time off riding my bike, working my way through YMCA swimming lessons, and being totally not-clumsy. And then each fall it was back to the grind again and it’s really hard not to internalize that crap. It took me probably a decade of adulthood to shake it all off and just have fun. Turns out I’m pretty good at dancing. If you haven’t yet, try Zumba, or belly dancing. Both types of classes tend to be very welcoming of all sorts of bodies and filled with friendly women who also used to hate exercise so they totally “get it”.

    Cynthia wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • Totally agree about belly dancing! I hated gym/P.E. growing up, and was always a scrawny kid. After college I started belly dancing classes on a whim, and fell in love! It’s so much fun, and you really do get some good exercise at the same time.

      LizMc wrote on May 28th, 2012
  19. This is why I rollerskate!!

    pestmeat wrote on May 28th, 2012
  20. Dance to life’s beat… For me, a retired woman with ALS, practicing T’ai Chi is wonderful.

    Lynnette wrote on May 28th, 2012
  21. Hi,
    I cannot recommend martial arts enough! I started Tae-kwon Do about 3 months ago and have loved it since. I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy, but it’s so rewarding. There’s the individual aspect (I have (almost) got abs now and am doing ‘grownup’ pushups for the first time in my life!), the competition (not just fighting, but who can go lower doing the splits, jump higher, kick harder, etc) and the team aspect (choose your school well – mine is like a second family now).
    We all encourage each other to come to classes, laugh (hard) when we fall down (also hard) and that makes it so much easier.

    I used to be ‘allergic’ to exercise myself, my friends and family can’t believe that the same slob who used to avoid walking even 5 metres and faked no end of medical problems/forgotten kit for PE lessons now can’t wait for the next class!

    You just have to find the right type of exercise for you (but obviously Tae-Kwon Do is the best, haha)

    Zoë wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • I was in a great tae kwon do class i loved to go twice a week. and i also developed abs, could start doing real pushups and from all the stretching and movement could finally touch my toes. i moved out of the area unfortunately. i joined up a gym but reading this reminded me of my tae kwon do days – highly recommended!!

      Earthspirit wrote on May 28th, 2012
  22. If you want to exercise to lose weight, it’s not an effective method for fat burning. Exercise just makes you hungrier and may increase cravings for sugars and starches (muscles get depleted of glycogen during strenuous exercise).

    ‘Exercise’ is good for an endorphin release and for building muscle, but not necessarily the corner stone of health, maybe sorting the diet first (if that’s a problem) may make you more inclined to move.

    Why not just walk a little more, or do a physical activity you enjoy and don’t think of as exercise e.g. dog walking, horse riding, bowling, having a go on a dance machine. Even doing house or working in the garden can be a form of exercise. Just being more active in general will work wonders for you health. You don’t have to do a sport to exercise or do anything fancy, you could just move more.

    H wrote on May 28th, 2012
  23. I hated exercising when I was younger , I liked doing push ups, sit ups and pull ups and riding my bike and exploring the forest and playing catch and badminton and basketball and going to the driving range but exercise forget it.

    What I really hated was running in circles for 20 mins (a la gym class) , this was what I though “exercise” was.
    Can we play dodge ball yet ? No, more running in circles MUhahahaha!!!

    And since I’ve learned to run better I like doing that too.

    alex wrote on May 28th, 2012
  24. I’ve always loved exercising, for me it is the reward for eating right.

    rob wrote on May 28th, 2012
  25. I do simplefit: this is highly motivating because when you are good enough, you “level up”. It is also a very effective workout: just about 40 minutes a week. I’ve been doing this for half a year now, with great results.

    martinus wrote on May 28th, 2012
  26. It took me until this year to enjoy exercise in and of itself. I can’t really explain why I now like it, only that I never did before and now I do.

    I found a sport I enjoy, after trying and disliking many others. Maybe that’s the key for Mary? She might hate jogging or frisbee, but like yoga or dance. Maybe she’ll enjoy trying tai chi or aikido. I tried soccer, ballet, softball, basketball, volleyball, all the other things they make you do in grade school, and not until I tried weightlifting (and yoga) was I happy.

    Or just downloading audiobooks and walking while listening to them. I love that. If I want to hear the book, I have to be moving.

    Ilana wrote on May 28th, 2012
  27. Probably the best motivator I’ve found to date is the Fitbit. It’s a tiny device that you keep in your pocket and monitors your daily movement. It works by showing you that you’re getting exercise even by running around town doing errands and via social technology turns movement into a game of sorts. Also, that which we measure, improves.

    APL wrote on May 28th, 2012
  28. People with chronic fatigue syndrome develop flu-like symptoms after exercise. Heal your adrenals and boost your immune system before attempting to exercise – if it makes you sick, don’t do it! 90% of body composition is what you eat. Focus on eating well, getting enough sleep, and less stress.

    Marisa wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • I had this thought, too. Perhaps some people hate exercise because it literally makes them feel sick? The recommendation for CFS sufferers is to find an amount of light exercise (walking) that they can do without feeling sick – and this might be just 60 seconds! – and build up very, very, very slowly.

      Also, if someone is very overweight, it might make sense to do relatively little exercise until some fat comes off, to spare the joints (though some walking or swimming should be OK).

      Violet wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • True.

      All other reasons aside (CFS, overweight, etc.), one big thing is not to feel guilty about not liking exercise. Many people go through their entire lives and live to be 100 in good health without ever ‘exercising’ at all.

      If exercise is just mind-numbingly boring and distasteful, try (as many others here have suggested) a non-formal-exercise activity like walking, and DON’T focus on the walking, but rather take pleasure in your surroundings…focus on the world external to your body: the sun, the breezes, the birds, your neighbors’ unkempt yards, etc.

      BillP wrote on May 28th, 2012
  29. I agree that “play” is the best way to get past the exercise blues! Or “learning a new skill.”

    Dance like an idiot when no one is watching, pick up a hula hoop, get a copy of “Jugging for the Complete Klutz,” learn to shoot a bow and arrow or throw knives or ride a horse or sail a boat…there are so many ways to be active that don’t feel like “exercise.” The trick really is just to find something you’ll actually stick with, whether it looks like traditional exercise or not.

    (And juggling really is a whole lot of fun!)

    Lila wrote on May 28th, 2012
  30. I HATED exercise. I am sure due to being a book worm child who dreaded gym class as if I was being led to the firing squad.

    But at 30, I started looking for something to do that *I* would enjoy. I started with a trainer. Someone who would work with my level of fitness (which was couch potato) After awhile, you get good at some things. And then you want to try others. I tried tons of stuff. I always chose smaller companies/gyms where I felt I could tell them I was new, not an athlete, not a runner, etc. The key is to go in with a good attitude and TRY.

    Now? Boxing is my love. And I am not even a thin girl! It took 6 or 8 years of trying new things to find the one thing I HAVE to do in the week.

    Meredith wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • Hi Meredith, I also hate exercising and am something of a bookworm, and my personal favorite thing to do is to do a brisk walk on my treadmill for about 80 minutes a day and limit myself to reading only during that time, or after 9pm (I use a kindle).

      Doing this has helped me endure the exercise, lose weight, and overall feel better about myself and I feel less resistance to getting on the treadmill (though I’d be lying if I said that initial inertia resistance didn’t still exist lol).

      It isn’t high intensity, but im burning 800 or so calories a day 6 days a week, and I love it!

      Anon wrote on November 24th, 2012
  31. I have always liked to exercise, but for me it was something I did as a “duty”: I had to complete some number of reps/weight a day (or week), run some miles, etc. If I did not do that I felt I had to “pony up” and had the feeling I was slouching. Not anymore. I am looking forward for my two high intensity workouts a week (almost always under 20 mins) and one sprint session a week (15 mins tops). I have spare time to do yoga and pilates classes at work and leisure bike commute to work (30 mins each way). Happy as a clam!

    WildGrok wrote on May 28th, 2012
  32. I think Mark is right, you need to review your past to find out why exercise is such an issue. Then you need to find an activity you enjoy, as repeated several times, you just need to move. It doesn’t have to be group, organized, or even goal oriented. Exercise, can just be cleaning the house. If you are blessed with messy children, you can probably get all the exercise you need just trying to keep the house organized and clean.

    Jennifer wrote on May 28th, 2012
    • I hate exercising! the ONLY possible exercise I will like is swimming.. how’s that for an opening statement? and as for messy children.. I’ve got em.. and a messy slob of a spouse too.. but he says cleaning the house isnt exercise. Well I’m not a gym person.. I am not a lift weights person.. I dont like running and i’m not into just taking long walks by myself. in short, I do not want to exercise.. I loathe it.

      Went into early menopause 6 years ago at age 42.. ever since then have had trouble keeping weight off but yet, I’m not obese. .. just a good 20 to 25 lbs overweight and I hate that as well. I eat the RIGHT foods.. I do not eat foods that are bad for me whatsoever but every now and again may have something sweet.. or God forbid a handful of potato chips.

      I’m 5 ft 7 inches and well..I cannot seem to get down below 163. If I could lose 25 lbs that would be great, but I can tell you it’s not going to come from exercising because I about hate it with a passion!

      and as for the past ?? well when I was in junior high school.. I had this teacher, Mr. Chambers.. and he MADE us run 40 laps around the gym every other day.. I freaking hated it.. hated getting all sweaty and then have picture day just after gym class? um no thanks.

      I am 48 years old now, and again.. did I mention I freaking hate exercise ?? the only exercise I will do is swimming that is IT. I live on a second floor.. and if you ever had to make about 5 trips back and forth up 20 steps to get groceries.. that has to count for something. I hate exercise, oh and by the way? I freaking hate exercise! I’m just NOT into it at all whatsoever!

      doesnt matter wrote on March 18th, 2014
  33. A bicycle was my salvation. I do a leisurely 15 miles 5 or 6 mornings a week and enjoy the outdoors. If I, at 84, can do it most anyone can. Oh, and Paleo is my other salvation.

    Bob Baxter wrote on May 28th, 2012

      mars wrote on May 28th, 2012
  34. You know i used to be her i hated exercise i never got the high afterwards either.. but it was because i was trying to force myself to do a gym like routine that didn’t suit me. I have now found that i love doing Pilates going on long walks and cycling to work every now and then. I say be patient and try different things and i agree having a workout partner or someone who can just be a support to you helps a great deal! Good luck and don’t give up hope <3

    Littlefoot wrote on May 28th, 2012
  35. I am struggling with exercise because I have sleep apnea (partly because of diet brainwashing and the resulting weight gain). At this point, I could not lift a weight to save my life. But I can walk, pull weeds in the garden, do leg lifts, simple stretching exercises, wall pushups . . . I’m still tired after doing this stuff, but I feel a better kind of tired.

    Entwyf wrote on May 28th, 2012
  36. I jogged with a partner for years. Unfortunately, it wrecked my knees. I always liked to dance, and that’s out too.

    Enter resistance exercise, done to rock music! The beat keeps me going and produces better results in a half-hour than endless cardio.

    Keep looking for the perfect combination of ingredients! You’ll find it.

    gibson girl wrote on May 28th, 2012
  37. can emphasize completely with mary (mirror neurons flashing wildly…)

    i have dealt with it by finding a short but demanding run or bike ride that i try to do each day or every other day and make it interesting each time i do it – i now live in the swiss countryside and with spring arriving, it’s not hard to get out and enjoy such a (brief) activity telling myself how good it is for me to get the motivation up – i find repetitive exercise boring as h*ll and although i have weights, i have to develop the same strategy – short, exerting sessions that i can bow out of when i (quickly) get bored –

    seems to work though! 57, 170lbs, 6’1′ frame and still going healthy and strong–

    ravi wrote on May 28th, 2012
  38. Well I don’t excercise as such, however I make a point of choosing a self-powered task over a mechanised one. Bus or bike into town? bike of course. Lift or stairs up to the 5th floor? Stairs! Electric food processor or big stone mortar & pestle to puree food? Letter to post – sprint to the post box and back instead of leaving it for tomorrow’s trip out. Also, I find these things much more fun. It is much more exciting to power yourself along the street than sit passively while a machine does the work…

    Simon wrote on May 28th, 2012

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