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Tips for People Who Don't Like to Exercise

​​​​​​​​​Are you someone who doesn’t really like exercise or being active? If so, you’re not alone.​

Think about Why You Don’t Like to Be Active

People have different reasons for not being active. It helps to think about some things that may be preventing you from taking the first step towards being more active.

Some Reasons People Don’t Like to Exercise

Feel Intimidated or Worry about being Embarrassed

You might not go to a gym or an exercise class because you aren’t sure what to do at the gym or you worry you’ll do the exercises wrong and look silly. These tips may help.

  • Take a tour of the gym or facility. Get to know the layout and the staff. This will help you feel comfortable before you commit to taking a course or class.
  • Register for a beginner class because everyone is at the same level and trying to learn the basics. As you learn more and get used to some movements, you’ll feel more confident.
  • Talk to certified fitness instructors or people who work at the gym about how to use the equipment or machines. You can also ask about different exercises that are good for beginners.

Negative Past Experiences with Exercise

Many people haven’t been active since they were in gym class as children. Many people don’t remember it being fun.

Here are some tips to help you plan how you can be active and try to move past negative experiences.

  • Choose activities you want to do and plan how and when you’ll do them. Remember no one is judging you, so try to have fun when you’re active.
  • Being active is not just about sports or running fast. There are lots of ways to be active.
  • Choose activities you can do on your own, with others, or in a class.

Not Feeling Motivated

Even athletes don’t feel motivated sometimes. Here are some tips to help you feel motivated.

  • Choose activities that you know you’ll like at least a little. The more you like an activity, the more likely you’ll be to keep doing it.
  • Remind yourself how you’ll feel after you’ve been active. Being active will give you more energy and help you sleep better. There are also many health benefits.
  • Try to be active when you have the most energy. For some people this means a morning run, while for others it means an evening walk. Choose times that work best for you.
  • See yourself as an active person. The more active you are, the better you’ll feel. The more times you’re active in a week, the stronger and more confident you’ll feel.

Other Ways to Move More

Being active is not just about going to a fitness centre, running long distances, or lifting weights.

There are many ways to add walking or other activities to your daily routine including:

  • limit how often or how long you’re sitting
  • get up and move around more at work and at home
  • take public transit instead of driving. Walk to public transit as part of your plan. When you have time and the weather is good, walk longer distances (e.g., walk all the way home, get off a few stops early, walk the rest of the way).
  • when you drive to places, park further away from entrances
  • take the stairs instead of elevators and escalators
  • think about chores as a way to get things done and be active at the same time
  • when you do yard work or chores outside, work at an even pace so you don’t get too tired. Try to enjoy being outside working with your family and visiting neighbours and friends.
  • use manual labour and tools (e.g., push mowers, snow shovels) often to be more active

Get Creative

There’s no limit to how many things you can do to be more active. Here are a few creative ideas to help get you moving.

  • Be active with your children instead of watching TV or playing video games. Do activities inside and outside that are fun for everyone (e.g., play in the yard, walk to a park, go hiking).
  • Take your dog for more walks and try to walk more often or longer distances. Slowly build up your pace and distance. The more you walk, the better you and your dog will feel.
  • Make active dates. For example, make a date with your partner/friend for a regular evening walk and on the weekends for a long bike ride or long walk. Pick a time that works for both of you so you don’t have to reschedule.

When you try an exercise class or a new activity, do it with a friend so it’s a social outing too.

Choosing Activities

Here are some activities to try:

  • yoga
  • dance classes (e.g., Zumba)
  • gardening
  • skating
  • biking
  • cross country skiing
  • hiking
  • rock climbing
  • inline skating
  • basketball

Make a list of activities you might be willing to try. Try some of them to see what you like doing. Try to choose things you’ll enjoy.

According to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, adults should try to be active for at least 150 minutes a week (e.g., 30 minutes​ a day for 5 days a week or 3 times a day for 10 minutes for 5 days a week).

Whatever activities you choose, it will take energy and work to stay active and to stay motivated. Make sure you choose activities you like doing.

Good luck with your activity plan... now it’s time to get up and go.

Current as of: February 25, 2016

Author: Health Promotion, Alberta Health Services