Strategies to Make Exercise an Activity You Love and Look Forward to

Most of us don’t like to exercise for the sake of exercise. In fact, you’ve probably had moments when it felt like a chore or punishment. When we look at exercise through this narrow lens, it can be challenging to stay active on a regular basis.

But imagine how different things would be if you actually looked forward to exercise the way you might look forward to dinner with friends or a weekend vacation. At the Obesity Action Coalition’s recent Your Weight Matters Virtual Convention, Tim Church, MD, MPH, PhD, a renowned exercise physiologist and research scientist, provided a few key tips to help you move exercise from your “To-Do” list to your “I Want to Do” list.

Tips to Make Exercise Something You Look Forward to Doing:

1 – Do What You Love to Do

Reflect on what you love and what makes you happy. If it’s nature, get your exercise by spending more time outdoors doing different activities. If you don’t love to run, don’t do it! You shouldn’t be miserable or else you will avoid exercise altogether.

2 – Think about What Matters to You

Reflect on your goals and core values and how these things can be maximized with exercise. Here are some that Dr. Church bulleted out:

  • Connectiveness (community)
  • Resilience
  • Productivity and a sharp mind
  • Increased energy levels
  • A better mood, not just reduced anxiety and depression
  • Higher self-esteem

3 – Identify What You Need Out of Your Program

Is it flexibility? Routine? Your home environment instead of the gym? Someone to work out with? Reflect on the factors you think will help you be more consistent.

4 – Make Your Plan Fit the Physical Activity Guidelines, Not Vice Versa

Don’t force exercise guidelines into your life. Make your interests fit the exercise guidelines rather than letting the guidelines dictate what you do. For example, if you love to dance, try dancing for 120 minutes/week instead of feeling the pressure to spend that much time at the gym or doing a structured program.

Just Do Anything

One final thing to note is that you shouldn’t hold yourself to impossibly high standards. You don’t need to turn into a marathon runner or a gym buff – your primary goal should be to work more physical activity into your every life, not just for weight control but for overall wellness.

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