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.

Thanks,

Mary

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. I hate and loath exercise, and I think that stressing out and feeling guilty and trumping up reasons in order to force myself to do it is complete crap. For me, the only reason to exercise would be if I enjoyed it, and since I most definitely do not, I do not do it.

    I do eat primal, though, because it is so thoroughly enjoyable to m e in all ways.

    Oh, and btw, check out something called “motivational anhedonia”.

    Helen wrote on May 29th, 2012
  2. I hate exercise too. But mostly, I hate it because it is BORING. Boring and pointless. So I strive to incorporate as much *functional* movement into my day as possible: bike to work; clean house with elbow grease instead of harsh chemicals; cook with cast iron; that kind of thing. I also have a standing computer desk at home.

    Okay, and I also do the Body By Science protocol for “real” exercise. I can hate 12 minutes a week in return for increased health and longevity.

    Kristy OT wrote on May 29th, 2012
  3. I used to hate hate hate exercise too, because exercise hated me. Light exercise like walking on flat ground was fine, but any sort of hill-climbing, or running, or bike pedaling above a low cruise, and my muscles would be BURNING and my lungs would be GASPING within five to ten minutes. I live at the top of a big, steep hill in San Francisco, and I used to have to pause and rest once every block on the way up, sweating and feeling like I was going to die. I would get back to my house and cry.

    Once I went primal, though, things automatically became a lot better. Sure I lost weight which made exercise easier, but right away I noticed that it just didnt hurt so much anymore. The first thing I noticed was that my muscles would get still get tired and sore, but they no longer BURNED after the slightest effort. Also breathing was easier, so i felt like I was oxygenating better, which gave me more energy. Soon I was climbing up my hill in half the time, and now I can climb all the way up, non-stop, while holding a conversation.

    I feel like this change has allowed me to “reset” my expectations for exercise, overcoming all the terrible memories I have of it growing up, and allowed me to learn to enjoy it much better.

    cTo wrote on May 29th, 2012
  4. Exercise used to make me really tired for days (or weeks) and never made me feel even slightly good. I hated it and for the most part just *couldn’t* do it. Then I found out I was high in heavy metals. I got rid of those and the world is an entirely different place.

    PaleoMom wrote on May 29th, 2012
  5. “Exercise” stinks, it should be considered a four letter word. But hiking, walking, bicycling, chasing the dog or kids, scrambling, kayaking, canoeing, those are FUN. If I have to do a few push-ups, pull-ups, squats and sprints so that I can do the fun stuff, I do it. Sometimes with gritted teeth, but I so enjoy the strength and stamina I have now compared to a year ago…well that’s all the incentive I’m needing. Now most times the fun takes the place of the “Exercise” and it’s win/win. Hang in there and do it for yourself. You’re worth it.

    Teresa wrote on May 29th, 2012
  6. Here’s a question. What would you recommend for someone who is a small girl who has asthma, lives in the desert where it is over 100 degrees for half the year, and can’t afford to go to the gym? I have free weights in the house but that’s it.

    Ginny wrote on May 29th, 2012
  7. I’m 32 as of now, and for a large part of my life(from my teens till about 27), i’d lost track of how good exercise felt and the numerous advantages it brought to one’s body.

    I got a good job in 2007, and what the hell- thought i’d rather spend the extra cash at a gym instead of a bar.

    Three months later- that’s when it happened. I saw the sexiest woman in the office checking me out when she thought i wasn’t noticing!

    vainglorious, i know. But i haven’t missed very many workouts since then. I’m now healthy, happily married and settled down with one child and another on the way.

    we all have our own motivations.I do hope Mary finds something she likes and starts her own journey.

    Mark Issac wrote on May 29th, 2012
  8. Sometimes, we hate exercising such as jogging or yoga. In times of hating them , don’t you know that in return of this is the worst? Think of that.

    _MEL

    melicarl143 wrote on May 29th, 2012
  9. The primary reason I hate exercising is because it inflicts pain and suffering to my body in the form of exhaustion and muscle soars. I especially get a piercing pain to my throat when I get out of my breath (am I the only one who gets this?). For me, the idea of making exercising enjoyable is like trying to enjoy getting whipped or getting beaten with a stick. Sure there is some level of “high” after exercising, but the pain is much greater than the reward.
    Does anyone have a similar issue regarding exercise pain? So many people have told me “no pain, no gain,” but to that I always reply “so much pain, so little gain. Simply not worth it.”

    Gray wrote on May 29th, 2012
  10. As a former “personal trainer” I second importance of the “Try Different Modalities” bit. Once upon a time I dogmatically pushed weight training (and a specific kind of HIT, no less) upon all and sundry; I have since come to appreciate how important it is that people enjoy their chosen form of exercise, that psychological needs are as important as physiological benefits, and that usually, something is better than nothing…

    Daniel Kirsner wrote on May 29th, 2012
  11. I was born in Europe and have lived both there and also in Japan. So as an American I’ve seen what life is like in three different cultures.

    The one thing people do and DO a lot overseas is either walk or ride a bike. Driving is nice but it’s a luxury.

    When living in Japan I would walk after working hours and wander everywhere. Up and down hills and simply explore every corner for something special. It was an adventure. If I was really in a hurry I’d take a bike.

    Never did own a car and couldn’t because they were just too expensive to keep. Needless to say I was in great shape and never exercised outside of that simple regimen at all.

    Fast forward to today and I’m down nearly forty pounds from a terrible lifetime high of 228 and should be losing another ten within a month. All through simply not eating the usual pastas, chips and such. All without exercise and all within four months.

    I had to see what diet change alone would do BEFORE throwing exercise into the mix or I’d never be certain which of the two was the greater factor. Now by adding a simple exercise such as walking the weight should fall off even faster.

    More important than anything has been the conscious “decision” that enough was enough. Just looking at photos from last Christmas and I was horrified at what I’d become. “No more!”, I’d said.

    You’ve got to want it because the excuses will only keep you where you don’t want to be. Been there, done that, and don’t want that anymore. So maybe the best exercise is to exercise your will.

    David wrote on May 30th, 2012
  12. I exercise for about 40 minutes at a session on an elliptical trainer. I’ve always made sure to do this at a gym that’s up in the air 4 or 5 stories with the machine facing so that I can look out the windows at the view.

    And while I’m doing it, I listen to my some of my favorite uptempo music – songs performed by a great “girl” group of the 1930’s called the Boswell Sisters (a trio). I have just their uptempo songs collected onto a playlist on my iPod. Listening to these good, uptempo, upbeat generally positive sentiment songs really energizes my exercise session and makes it easy to go uptempo myself for 40 minutes. I’ll start doing more sprints soon too.

    Good luck.

    Roger in Korea wrote on May 30th, 2012
  13. I too hate to exercise, but at age 46 have decided it’s that, or continue this slow, steady weight gain that started about a year and a half ago. I was sooo excited to learn about Body by Science, which Mark recommends in this blog. I am reading the book now and can’t wait to get started lifting!! If I can work out once a week for about 20 minutes and have all the benefits with little to no risk of injury, I’m all over it. I think this is finally the answer to end my loathing of exercise, and I plan to be in the best shape of my life!!

    Kim wrote on May 30th, 2012
  14. Eight years ago, at age 47, I learned to ride a motorcycle. A big, heavy, touring bike that required some strength. I was reasonably strong to begin with, but found it difficult to keep up with my burly husband. I started “training” in a gym to increase my stamina. I continue to increase my strength, which makes exercising more interesting. The stronger I get, the better it feels. Finding a good trainer has made a big difference too. I interviewed several to find one I thought could show me good form and strength. The motivation is still to increase stamina so I can ride well, and leave my husband in the dust…

    Wendy wrote on May 30th, 2012
  15. I hated exercise, until I started doing it. I started with water aerobics and then got a personal trainer for weight training and cardio. That was six years ago. I lost 130+ pounds and felt great, even though both knees degenerated continuously. The exercise slowed the degeneration. Six months ago I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, and too-fast heart beat. I had three heart procedures but none worked. Now my doctors say I cannot raise my heart rate, even moderately, because of medication I take to prevent heart failure and blood clots. I cannot take pain killers for my knees because they interfere with my heart meds, and any surgery is now off limits until my heart problems are under control with no blood thinners needed. My clothes are getting tight and I am miserable. I’m still following the food plan that allowed me to lose the 130 pounds, but without exercise the weight is creeping up. I miss the exercise I once despised. My point is that no matter how much you think exercise is torture, if you’re heart healthy (check with your medical professional) there’s always some form of it that you can enjoy. It takes effort to change the mind set, but getting in the “move” mode more often pays off in the long run. I miss my exercise now and wish I’d taught myself to enjoy it earlier, when I could still do it.

    Marilyn wrote on May 30th, 2012
  16. I hate exercise too – I work in the garden and dance instead.

    Rose wrote on May 30th, 2012
  17. I very much dislike exercise for its own sake. I’ve never enjoyed running, walking, cycling, etc. . . for their own sake.

    On the other hand, I am quite athletic and I VERY MUCH enjoy soccer, basketball, cycling trips (took one from San Fran to San Diego), flag football, tennis, etc. . .

    The competition aspect of the sports is what makes exercising through sports appealing to me – and even in the cycling trip, we were a small group of 7 cyclists competing to see if we could get from point A to point B quicker than other small groups of cyclists.

    If the exercise doesn’t have a competitive aspect to it, it’s hard for me to stay interested for very long. For certain people, focusing on that aspect will help you stay in shape or get in shape.

    BTW, I was 5’4″, 135 pounds, 8% body fat at college graduation. 18 years later at age 40, I’m 5’4″, 142 pounds, but probably closer to 12-13% body fat.

    Obviously, I need to tone up a bit as I’ve gotten flabby. However, I’ve basically been able to eat pretty much whatever I want to eat (in moderation, of course) and my exercise has typically been 1 or 2 sessions a week of an hour or so – typically soccer, but sometimes other things. I usually take the stairs (when I’m going less than 3 or 4 floors) and it doesn’t bother me to park 100 yards from the front of the Wal Mart.

    Also, I have a LOT of nervous energy – my wife is always telling me to stop shaking my leg and such.

    Rob Bright wrote on May 30th, 2012
  18. This is me. Kinda.

    I’m autistic. This causes me to be a number of things: –

    Social-phobic
    Demo phobic

    I can’t interact with people as neurotypicals can. I’m back at my folks at the moment and when they’re around I’m forced to stay in my room; not because they command I do so (that would be stupid – I’m nearly 40!) but because there’s something inside me which prevents me from going downstairs when they’re around (and that’s 99% of the time). I can’t leave because I’ve nowhere to go. They promised to find me someplace to live. They lied. They don’t get me at all! I don’t DARE go downstairs because I can’t cope with them ‘getting’ at me all the time. I have to wait until they’ve gone to bed to eat real food (I’m subsisting on caseinate and MCT shakes flavoured with cocoa).

    I used to follow PF. Got really good at it. Really enjoyed it. Like I think I’ve said before, my crowning achievement was sprinting 500m carrying my own weight (the only WOW I’ve ever accomplished). My BF% dropped from 25 to 15.

    Then my thyroid went nuts. Again. When I weighed 336, it got lazy, now it’s like Usain Bolt on speed! I’ve lost all the muscle I built up, I’m chronically bloated (how do you think that makes me feel…? I was a svelte 0-2; some days I’m so swollen I have to dig around to find my old 6-8 stuff (sometimes even 8-10!). I keep telling myself I’m not getting fatter (though I guess I must be as the muscle I’ve lost has gotta be replaced by something!)

    Thing is, the hyperthyroidism is a self-diagnosis. If you looked up the symptoms, I’m absolutely 100% textbook. Tick every one. There’s just one problem – and it’s a biggie – I’m British, and, over here, we don’t have enlightened medical bods; every GP I’ve seen blames my diet (which is more low-carb than Palaeo these days, due to my transient existence – it’s hard to cook up a nice juicy hunk o’ cow flesh when you’re living out of hotel rooms! I’m consuming WAY too much cow juice. Dread to think what my O3:O6 ratio is – and the O3 caps they sell over here are crappy – in order to get a decent-sized dose, you’re looking at – very nearly – a bottle a day!)

    Anyway, I’m a crappy liar. If a doc asks me what my diet’s like I’m NOT going to lie and say I’m eating low-fat and making sure I’m getting the recommended 8-12 daily servings of whole grains – why the heck should I…?! I know I’m right and they’re wrong! So my swollen torso and belly are blamed on the fact in in denial about gaining weight due to my high-fat diet (I actually look like I’ve got a wheat belly – frustrating for someone who’s been grain-free for 6 years!). My bowels actually fill up really fast too, which makes it worse. My hips can expand to a size 6 really fast, but my waist is stil a 0, my knees are swollen, basically my once-toned-and-honed body is a complete mess!

    I eat at night, because eating exhausts me (as soon as I’ve eaten I want to sleep). Consuming the shakes doesn’t appear to have the same effect as real food.

    Basically I can’t get my thyroid tested because I can’t get past the diet stumbling block.

    Anyone any advice…? I’m NOT exercise phobic – I miss my PF, but when you don’t have any energy and you’re fighting – and losing – a battle with your head, what do you do…?!

    HELP!

    Athena Noctua wrote on May 30th, 2012
    • I don’t know why you can’t get your thyroid tested. If you went to a decent Dr in the UK and said you were worried your thyroid was overactive, and had symptoms to suggest that it was, they would send you for blood tests. If you’ve had a different response, I would try another GP.

      Liz wrote on May 30th, 2012
  19. Haha this post is awesome! I am one of those people who doesn’t love exercise, I don’t hate it but it always feels like a chore I have to do. Cutting back to more intense short workouts has made a big difference in motivation; I can commit to 30 minutes a few times a week and I am not exhausted for days afterwards. I also walk as much as possible which I love to do.

    Mary wrote on May 30th, 2012
  20. Great post! I agree with the point you made about the different steps you need to take to exercise and become healthy. One thing I’ve found to be extremely helpful and useful as a supplement to my current diet/exercise plan is Fullbar (www.fullbar.com). Their gummies and bars help curve my hunger, help me with portion control and keep me from consuming more calories than I really need.

    Ryan wrote on May 30th, 2012
  21. I feel just like Mary! I hate movement that is designed, purposely, to be “exercise.” What I do love is DANCING! The dance class I’ve found nearby that is least like “exercise” is Jazzercise — not too much “now this next move is for working the quads” and that kind of thing, just joyful movement and fun music! I’d love to find a dance class with more complicated choreography, too. If I could find 5 or 6 like-minded people, I’d ask a local dance studio teacher to start an adult class for us, choreographing fun routines for us and teaching them to us once or twice a week. We could do them on our own outside of class. Also, I like to put on the theme from “Mortal Kombat” and pretend to beat up my sister using karate moves I vaguely remember from lessons in college; that is a very good workout.

    Jennifer W. wrote on May 30th, 2012
  22. My challenges with exercising…
    -lack of funds, lack of time, lack of space at home.
    -old injuries(mainly shoulders) make it difficult to go further with a regiment than 2 weeks before getting discouraged or re-injured.
    -I don’t want to lose weight(I like weighing 175, as opposed to 115 when graduating in 2004), I would rather focus on building muscle and feeling more healthy. Old injuries make this tough.
    -being fit came naturally in high school. As a wrestler, I would only work out during the season and could do nearly anything I wanted to do, plenty of push/pull ups, decent at distance running/sprinting, could walk on hands across a football field, and benched 200 while weighing 103, among other things.

    Techivarian wrote on May 30th, 2012
  23. I think I hate exercise because it hurts me so much. I never get the exercise high. I have Fibromyalgia. I get muscle fatigue from just blow drying my hair or walking into the house from the garage carrying a few bags. I’ve been trying to work in our garden with my hubby and I get muscle cramps in every known muscle. Mainly, in my feet/arches. I did figure out that walking barefoot in the garden makes them feel the best (imagine that).

    Don’t get me wrong. Compared to others with Fibro, I am super woman. I work over 80hrs a week (we own a business that I will quit when I’m done with school) and I go to school, almost full time. I am also primarily responsible for all of the cooking and cleaning. I’m almost 47 years old and people can’t believe that I do more than most “young” people. But repetitive, hard on the muscle stuff just doesn’t work for me. Some say “can you walk”. Yes, I can, but the next day I hobble like an old woman. One “idea” behind the muscle aches is that Fibro patients have an excess build-up of lactic acid.

    It’s terribly frustrating to read how great exercise is, how much it makes you feel better, when all I can equate it with is pain and suffering. Before I was diagnosed, I was getting Physical Therapy for Sciatica, but also had Fibro and the PT actually MADE FUN of me because I couldn’t do the repetitions she was requesting of me. Telling me that even old people do more than I do.

    Just wondering if there will ever be any hope for someone like me?

    Yvonne M. wrote on May 30th, 2012
  24. after my teens, i hated exercising and at 25, i rolled my eyes at my friends who wanted to go for a run (ick, boring!). then i went snowboarding one day. and what a hook! i got a season’s pass and would go 4 times a week. all of a sudden i had muscles in my legs and my torso. awesome!
    summers made me sad, because i was not snowboarding, and a friend mentioned mountain biking and how it was a similar feeling. so, voila, i start mountain biking! and then yes, summers were awesome too!
    these two sports stirred something in me…they made me athletic. the girl who hated to sweat became athletic.
    and years later, i know that i crave a sport with a feeling of exuberance in order to exercise- having the exuberance, the play, makes it about having fun, and the good part is that i’m exercising and challenging my body and gaining strength and i just want more and more and more. my old friends can not believe that at 45 i can keep up with a 30 year old…and i don’t even try.
    YOU CAN TOO! and it won’t be a burden. i promise. just stay off the treadmill!

    tracy wrote on May 31st, 2012
  25. I find exercises where I not only feel good after, but during. Being active should feel fun and rewarding.

    A new playlist always inspires me to get moving. When I hear a new song I love, I throw it on the iPod, inserting it sometimes 5-6 times on one playlist, and take a long walk. But I do, however, love to walk.

    When I want to reward/bribe myself to do an exercise I hate, like sprinting, I make sprint days my dark chocolate days. Indulging in a square of 80% dark chocolate feels heavenly after an intense sprint sesh (and a shower).

    Ashley wrote on May 31st, 2012
  26. I’m fine with exercise as long as it is walking or lifting weights.

    It’s playing I hate. I wish I could think of an activity that would be considered playing that I’d actually like. Everything I can think of seems dangerous and scary to me. (Yes, throwing around a frisbee would send me cowering in fear)

    Alex wrote on May 31st, 2012
    • I had a tough time finding my “play”, too, especially living in a colder and snowier climate. We have taken up bowling. It’s a pretty great “starter play” for me that doesn’t have me yelling “Not the face!” and covering my eyes.

      Grok Fox wrote on June 1st, 2012
      • I also live in a colder and snowier climate! It does make it harder to find “play”! :)

        I’ve never thought of trying bowling… and it’s not that expensive either. Good idea for starter play!

        Alex wrote on June 1st, 2012
  27. Recently I’ve been getting most of my exercise by climbing and also carrying food, water, and supplies. I climbed on top of the local library a few times. The first time I put my back to the building very close beside it and used my hands and feet to climb between the walls, then climbed down using the same method.
    Another way was climbing up a spot where two walls form a right angle and the exterior is jutting, rough bricks.I put my hands and feet on their respectable sides of the wall and laddered. One way to get down is to climb a tree that lives right beside the building.

    Animanarchy wrote on May 31st, 2012
  28. Not particularly in the mood to exercise? Don’t have time, or not in the ideal place like a gym or out doors? No problem. I get maximum benefits of exercise with the least amount of time spent, with a form of exercise that I feel is the most beneficial of all choices, and easily obtainable in many places I happen to be. How? I stair climb. Just a few minutes gets me huffing and puffing for a decent workout, and I’m done. I find stairs everywhere – at the library, various public places, in office buildings while waiting for an appointment, where I work, etc. (I use the fire escape stairs when possible, for more privacy and less self-consciousness.) Or find a bit of a hill in a park or trail and do a few circular up and down walks or runs). Here’s why climbing stairs or hills is superior. The obvious: It consumes a lot less time to get the heart really pounding than walking on a level surface, burning a decent amount of calories in the process, thus it’s a time saver. According to the American Council on Exercise, stair climbing is a complete body workout and burns more calories than other exercises. The not obvious: Climbing has been shown to add density to bone mass just about better than any other form of exercise. And climbing down actually provides unique benefits to your body and muscles that you don’t get from most other exercises. Tip: build your endurance up gradually by increasing time or number of flights (you may eventually find yourself running up and down the stairs, which can be very exhilarating); don’t hunch your shoulders while climbing; and don’t do it to excess. For people with osteoarthritis, weak knees, quadriceps, and hamstrings, it may be best avoid this type of exercise or be very careful in easing into it. By the way, not that we care, some elite athletes and celebrities (Alex Rodriguez and Madonna, for example) consider stair climbing one of their favorite forms of exercise.

    Ed Sadowski wrote on June 3rd, 2012
  29. Hi, I’ve been reading this blog for about 2 months or so and it made me start going primal. I’ve lost about 10kg (around 5kg a month) with a modified primal diet and an exercise regime that I follow. This is my first comment and sorry about my English, it’s not my first language :(

    I had the same problem with exercise (made me cry just THINKING of moving). I also think that I was born to detest gyms (tried it twice and failed spectacularly. Complete waste of money). I hated running with a passion that is borderline crazy (still hate it). I find that weightlifting, treadmills, even hiking doesn’t stimulate my mind while working out. I needed something that would make me think, something that would engage both my physical and mental abilities in order for me to feel good doing it.

    Being a fan of fighting games, what I did was I signed up for martial arts. I’m currently doing Muay Thai (kickboxing) 3~5 classes a week, around 1 and a half hours a class. Why I suggest martial arts is that you don’t feel like you’re doing repetitive and boring workouts. Your mindset is different. You’ll feel like you’re learning discipline, focus, technique and self-defense. The mental exercise comes from the sparring and techniques on self-defense. You’ll need your wits about you as you’re fighting, for instance; how to block a kick, how to counterattack, how to throw punches and feints, etc. Most of the time it requires spontaneous decisions, and I find the mental workout very stimulating. You don’t even think about the exercise. There are sprints and jumps and almost every good but simple exercise WITHIN the training itself. There’s even a kitchen sink.

    The exercise is just a bonus. The 900~1500 calories burned per class are also a very, very nice bonus.

    Don’t worry about not being fit enough for martial arts, or any other regimes you might want to follow. The first class I lasted about half an hour, second one I passed out after hehe.

    In my experience, in order to lose weight and keep fit and healthy, you must do an exercise that you like, not what others say is good for you. It doesn’t have to be martial arts; sign up for yoga, do Dance Dance Revolution, etc. It should be fun, and something that you like with a passion. Or if you’re someone like me, it should stimulate your mind as well as your body.

    Mahat wrote on June 6th, 2012
    • I can’t even tell English isn’t your first language. :)

      Vivian wrote on June 6th, 2012
      • Thank you, spell-check!

        Mahat wrote on June 6th, 2012
  30. Haha what if someone does cry every time they get out of bed and walk to the kitchen to get breakfast?

    Vivian wrote on June 6th, 2012
  31. Exercising for the sake of exercising is boring. I’ve joined numerous gyms over the years and quit every one of them after only a few months. Not only are gyms boring, they’re a pain in the patoot. You have to get yourself there and back, which takes extra time out of a busy schedule; often the piece of equipment you want to use is taken by somebody who hogs it for the better part of an hour–more time wasted; and even if you do luck out and manage to get into your routine right away, some slob has dripped sweat on everything and failed to clean it up. A pox on gyms!

    I recently bought a Schwinn exercise bike that I really love. There’s no traveling involved, no waiting, etc. I can pedal away doing periodic sprints while watching TV. As someone who hates to exercise, this turned out to be the perfect answer for me. Oh, did I mention that it also makes me feel healthy, energetic and totally terrific?

    Shary wrote on June 10th, 2012
  32. This letter really speaks to me. I think a lot of us feel this way because we were forced into gym class activities as kids that at best didn’t suit us, and at worst, made us depressed and miserable.

    I was always a fat kid, and VERY tall (I was 5’10” by sixth grade…I’m female!) and I had a spinal fusion at age 13 that’s effected my strength and balance ever since. It wasn’t til high school that I had a gym teacher that didn’t torment me and make me cry. I think they thought the torment would make me work harder, but it had just the opposite effect…ie, I couldn’t climb because I was too big and too weak and afraid of heights, and I never tried later because all I could remember was the fear and disappointment I felt when my gym teacher mocked me in the name of encouragement (I’m 36 and it still makes me tear up!).

    I only REALLY started to love exercise when I found one I liked–for me, weight training. An astute trainer in college noticed that I was WAY stronger than other kids, kicked butt at fencing (strong thigh muscles), and couldn’t run fast but could run slowly for duration. She suggested weight lifting and I’ve been on and off for years, but been really dedicated to it since I turned 30. Prior to that, stuff like basketball, baseball, running, aerobics, pilates, etc all made me feel TERRIBLE and I never thought I’d actually enjoy working out!

    A huge factor for me was finding a physical therapist who showed me that I could safely and successfully squat and deadlift, despite a full spinal fusion, two ruptured ACLs and degenerative disc disease (none of these are related to lifting btw). And reading about primal let me let myself skip the cardio machines (where before, I always felt I “had to” get on that stair stepper for a half hour, even if I’d lifted hard for an hour, or it wasn’t a “real” workout–which was incentive enough to skip the workout all together!)

    That’s a long way of saying… find something you like, confront the historical voices in your head that say “YOU CAN’T”, and toss your rules of what constitutes ‘real exercise’. If you’re moving, its good enough. If it doesn’t feel good, try something else. Give youself a break. And let yourself have fun!!

    JV wrote on June 16th, 2012
  33. We all have those days where we simply just don’t want to workout. One strategy that I have learned to get myself to workout is to listen to my favorite pump up music. It really helps me get in the mood and helps me perform better while I workout. If your someone that hates to workout try to start out with small easy workouts and work your way up from there. Remember, working out has a snow ball effect. Its hard to get the ball rolling but once you gain some momentum, working out will become enjoyable.

    John Oxnard wrote on July 9th, 2012
  34. I used to absolutely love to exercise, as a child, I used to run, play sports, and spent most of my life on horseback. Unfortunately, when I was a freshman in high school, I tore my ACL in my knee playing basketball. After that, I tried and tried to continue these sports but continued to tear the ligament small bits at a time which was excruciating. The summer before my senior year in high school, I completely finished tearing out the ligament and had to have surgery….that was the end of basketball. I continued playing other sports after I healed up, including rodeo and softball, but then 10 years later, I blew out the other ACL playing softball. This second surgery really hit me hard and I gained a lot of weight. I have had trouble exercising much since, because the 1st knee now has no cartilage and the doctor told me I need a knee replacement but he won’t do it until I am at least 50 (I am 36).
    I hate going to the gym, it hurts, and I feel very out of place, overweight, and it just isn’t fun to me. What I found to help me out is that I dance… The town I live in has country western dance lessons three nights a week and I am a regular there. I then dance with all the guys who are learning afterwards so I end up being there for about 2 hours a night. I have a ball and come home soaking wet (always so hot there, but I am working my tail off too). I thoroughly believe in “play” and finding something you enjoy so much that you don’t want to miss it at all. I have been living primal and playing since December of 2011 and have never felt better. You can do it!!

    Tana wrote on July 27th, 2012
  35. I hate working out in gyms, outdoors, and definitely with other people. I hate the clothes, I hate the shoes, I dread the possibility that I might have to talk to someone before, during, or after a workout. In all seriousness, if I needed to drop a few pounds and had to choose between going to the gym and starving myself, I would decide without hesitation to stop eating.

    So, you can imagine, I thought exercise just wasn’t a thing I was ever, ever going to be into.

    But. I went to YouTube a few months ago and did a search for a beginner-level Pilates routine to test-drive. I got hooked on it immediately. It’s right up my alley. I love that I can decide on the length and focus of the routines, and best of all, I can do them by myself, wearing whatever clothing I want, in the privacy of my own, air-conditioned living room, where the only talking I have to do is to my dog when I tell her to clear out.

    Maybe something like that could help?

    Lindsay wrote on August 1st, 2012
  36. what if you enjoy running long distances? (i like to run 6 or 7 miles 2 or 3 times a week) is this really not helpful AT ALL to health? I also do a HIIT session once a week.

    Luke Williams wrote on September 19th, 2012
  37. I swam, walked, ran, played soccer, and hated it. Several years ago, I found a yoga studio that emphasizes the spiritual as welll as the physical elements of practice. It’s been some time since I’ve been in shape but that’s the route I’d take again. A lot of people think yoga isn’t physically demanding; I’ve seen “athletes” leave their first class wrung out with sweat abs exhauation after thinking yoga was a piece of cake. Good studios are pricy but worth it. A local facility near me pretends to be a studio while using metal folding chairs as props (???) so I’ll need to drive to a studio of some quality.
    And you never know, you just might have a spiritual experience on the mat.

    Robin wrote on October 12th, 2012
  38. Okay, I am totally in the “I hate exercise” club. I never liked it, even as a kid who was a normal weight. I hated PE so much as a child that I got sick every day thinking about going. Why, you might ask? Because I was a straight A student except for PE. I am now 5 feet tall, and at that time was a normal weight. However, the Presidential Fitness requirements never took height into consideration, so I got Ds. My PE teachers at all 8 grade schools and 3 high schools I went to said “if you dress out and try, you get an A!” They lied, because I dressed out every single day, tried everything they asked, and I got Cs. Lucky for me, by the time I got to high school, you could trade drivers ed and marching band for a PE class.

    There is absolutely NO type of exercise I like. I hate to walk, except from point A to point B. I hate Zumba and other dancing type fitness classes because I have no coordination and can’t keep up, so I look like an idiot. Did that enough in school in PE.

    I don’t like biking, walking (totally boring, and listening to music doesn’t help because I can’t focus on the music when I am focusing on the walk), I suck at swimming, and I don’t like anything to do with martial arts. I tried belly dancing, but couldn’t do that, either. Again with the coordination issue.

    I have been in a gym several times, but looking at size 1, totally fit women with perfect hair and fingernails in spandex exercising when it is clear they never even eat doesn’t do it for me. Makes me feel worse, as a matter of fact.

    Never, ever, ever felt that runner’s high my hubby always talks about. All I want to do is eat and sleep after working out, and yes, for those of you who will ask, I did try it for an extended time, to give it a chance. I want to curl up and sleep.

    I hate to sweat, and pretty much don’t, even in the heat of summer. As a result, I overheat, and my pulse beats in my face, and I feel sick. Causes problems even when we go camping with the Scouts.

    By the way, the Europeans don’t choose to exercise. It costs too much to fuel a car, there is no parking, and the roads are difficult to manage. They walk because it is cheap and easy to do with no money. They also rent bikes like we do strollers in the malls. Put in your debit card and pull the bike off. If you return it, you are charged for the day. If you don’t, they charge your debit card for the price of the bike. They also (up until the last couple of years) all smoke. That kills appetite and keeps them slimmer. I know. I lived there for 3 years.

    I am sorry that you don’t believe that there is anyone who actually hates any form of exercise, but I do. This may violate a rule to say, but I even hate to engage in sex. Too much work for too little gratification. It is like riding the roller coaster in your favorite amusement park. Stand in line 45 minutes, spend a few minutes getting to the peak, then 10-15 seconds of thrill and it is over. Not really a reason to do it often. And yes, I am married, and do engage in sex for him, but I see no point. He wants me to enjoy it, and I can reach a peak, but I really don’t want to. Seems like a waste of time.

    What do I really enjoy? Reading, playing piano, watching really good Robin Williams movies, traveling with the family, and laughing. None of those classifies as a fitness routine, regardless of how much laughter can benefit you.

    Maybe it was all the President’s fault. Tell kids they have to perform to a standard, grade them on their ability to do it, and then tell them they need to improve. To a straight A student, that was all it took turn my dislike of physical activity to hate. Why humiliate yourself further?

    In answer to anyone’s question, yes, I was a normal weight for my height in school. I was not obese until after I gave birth a couple of times.

    So, when you are preaching to others about how good it is for you, how much better you feel, and how everyone has something they like to do, remember you aren’t always right.

    This sounds like an attack, but really, it is just a frustrated person sick of hearing that there is something out there that will make you feel wonderful, excited, and energetic. There isn’t for me, and some others might have similar experiences.

    Mischelle40 wrote on February 13th, 2013
    • Both Mischelle and Awua have summed me up pretty well.

      I have been trying for so long to find whatever I’m supposed to find enjoyable that I can’t take it any more. I’ve done the gym (weights, steady state cardio, everything), classes, walking, dancing, rock climbing, sports, boot camp, personal trainers, videos at home, stationary bikes, outdoor activities, geocaching, and probably dozens of other things I can’t even think of. I’ve tried HIIT, slow and stead, whatever. Nothing takes. I’ll do it for months and months and it’s never any more pleasant than the first time I go. I get worked up to tears just trying to force myself to do SOMETHING that I just want to go sit in a closet and hide from it. This isn’t just exercise – this is cleaning the house, going to school/work, and doing pretty much anything else that doesn’t involve laying in bed, reading a book, or staring at my computer.

      I have chronic life-long depression that doesn’t respond to medication – the number one recommendation? EXERCISE.

      I also have serious social anxiety problems compounded with low self-esteem and poor social skills that make it seem impossible to face seeing even one person most days. Same thing – number one recommendation is EXERCISE.

      So what do the people like us do? Fitness people tell us to go to the doctor and the doctors tell us to go to the gym. Round and round it goes. I’d really rather just stay at home and be fat and die early, to be honest, but then I feel guilty and anxious about that too and cry over NOT going just as much as I cry about GOING.

      Sucking it up doesn’t work – I just don’t have that sort of ability to self motivate, and I’ll go maybe once or twice before it’s just too unbearable to make myself go ever again. External motivation doesn’t do it either – I honestly just don’t care about anything enough to work for it. (Number one recommendation for fixing that sort of apathy and anhedonia? EXER-EFFING-CISE.)

      Alice Crosby wrote on July 10th, 2013
      • Oh, and ditto about the sex. I’m not all that inclined to do that either…..It’s just another thing that involves putting in a bunch of effort, feeling gross, and yeah – the payoff just isn’t worth it. I am also married, and I feel horrible and guilty about that too. I realize Mischelle wrote this months ago, but if she sees it I just wanted to let her know that I totally understand her point of view on that matter too.

        Alice Crosby wrote on July 10th, 2013
  39. You will never convince me to enjoy exercise. I find it the most VACUOUS and mind-numbingly boring bollocks–EVER.

    And none of your suggestions work for me.

    1) Workout partner? This is phenomenally stupid in my case. I think exercise is a necessary evil and hate it to my bones. So I’m ALREADY angry about having to do it, and I’m Asperger’s on top of it. A partner is TORTURE to me. They want to titter and say STUPID things and want responses when I just want to get it over with and forget the nightmare as soon as possible. I have a hard enough time having any friends. I’d have NONE if any of them were stupid enough to join me for a workout. Don’t even ask what happens if they try to worm their way into being there. IT IS NOT PRETTY. I’d rather lose a friend than work out with them.

    Seriously.

    2) I’ve never believed that dopamine exists. I have NEVER experienced this supposed high some people get from exercise. No matter how much I work out, I NEVER feel good about having to do this necessary evil. I don’t feel good during it. I never do. And because I find it so completely unpleasant as a physical sensation, I get even ANGRIER about having to do it.

    3) It doesn’t matter HOW LONG the workouts are. I hate it, start to finish. I cannot find any pleasure in this stuff, other than the results. And that’s not enough to make me like what it takes to get them.

    4) I don’t like ANY physical activity. There is no play to it for me, and never was. I hated going outside as a kid. I hated being pushed and prodded into games and play and activities, all of which I hated. It’s all torture to me.

    5) The meaning of exercise is to be fit. It’s unpleasant, but necessary, like paying taxes, or being nice to the uncle who hits the sauce too hard at holiday gatherings. Same thing, to me.

    6) I was never the kid picked on in gym class. I didn’t have any problems with doing any exercises, or being slow. I was even the kind who would be good enough to be a consistent winner when gym class split up in teams. I do them well. But I was in gym class ONLY because the school forced me to be there. I did not choose to be there, and I wouldn’t have chosen it. Ever. I can remember that one of the first things I checked when I went to high school was what PE requirements were for graduation–and being THRILLED that I wouldn’t have to take it my senior year! That was better than my birthday and Christmas rolled up together to me!

    So there are no ‘issues’ for me about exercise other than considering it a necessary evil.

    7) It doesn’t matter what exercise I do. I hate it. It doesn’t matter how long I do it. I hate it. It doesn’t matter how I mix it up. I hate hate hate it.

    People who find it enjoyable for ANY reason are like aliens from Andromeda to me. I don’t get it.

    At my age, I don’t think I ever will.

    Awua wrote on February 16th, 2013
  40. Whenever I exercise, particularly when running, I have to fight down the voice inside that says, “WEAK, SLOW, UGLY, STUPID, WORTHLESS, USELESS, FAT. GIVE UP! GIVE UP! GIVE UP!”

    Taylor wrote on February 25th, 2013

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