Hate Working Out? 5 Things That Will Make You Want to Exercise

Heading to the gym can be a drag, but we all know it can be difficult to keep ourselves active without this routine. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports only 20.9% of adults 18 and older meet the U.S. physical activity guidelines for strengthening and aerobic activities each year. As most of us know, the most challenging part of maintaining a physical routine is rustling up the motivation to move your body in the first place.

To quote Woody Allen, “80% of success is showing up.” Sure, it’s a challenge at the start, but it’s one that anyone can face up to with the right tools. With that in mind, these five tips will have you off the couch and at the gym in no time.

1. Make a commitment contract

muscular man sitting on a barbell

Making a pledge will actually encourage you to hit the weight room. | iStock.com

You may promise yourself a visit to the gym every day, but how often do you find yourself getting there? A lack of accountability is often the foremost problem in motivating. According to Life by Daily Burn, research shows that we are all more likely to follow through with a commitment if that commitment was made in front of friends or colleagues. If a simple pledge won’t seem to do the trick, exercise hopefuls can motivate themselves using other means — even financial ones.

Dr. Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, told the publication, “It’s a simple notion of changing the cost. I say I’m going to make a commitment to do something for a certain amount of time. … If I don’t do that, I’m going to pay some kind of penalty, whether it’s monetary or the embarrassment of having friends know I didn’t live up to my word.”

There are apps to keep yourself on track as well: MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper will help you maintain and track your fitness activity. And social apps like Pact will reward you financially for your efforts as well.

2. Exercise with a buddy

friends at the gym together

It’s so much easier with friends. | iStock.com

Not only does having a workout buddy help maintain your accountability, it also makes exercise a social gain, rather than a loss of personal time. Besides, if your friend is depending on you for a 30-minute jog, you’re not likely to leave that person hanging. Having a buddy to encourage you throughout your physical activities will keep you entertained and distracted from any aches, pains, or pervasive negative thoughts, reports Everyday Health.

3. Train with technology

Runner looking at smartwatch heart rate monitor having break while running

Listen to some tunes. | iStock.com

Of course, a workout buddy isn’t requisite, and many fitness enthusiasts prefer to work out alone — just make sure to give yourself something to stay occupied as you work up a sweat. Try taking advantage of personal technology by tuning into a motivational playlist or a particularly engaging podcast. Better yet, restrict yourself to listening to a particular album or podcast only at the gym.

On top of their entertainment value, wearable technology and modern fitness machines can also track a workout’s distance and calorie burn, which can be helpful tools in motivating you to take every extra step toward a healthy lifestyle.

4. Find the right workout

man lifting weights at the gym

If you really like lifting at the gym, stick with it. | iStock.com

All exercise was not created equal: In fact, there is an enormously wide-ranging selection of physical activities for you to try, so don’t give up on the idea completely if you haven’t found yours yet. If running’s not your thing, try fresh-air activities such as biking, hiking, or swimming, or head to the gym and hit the weights. Many gyms also offer cardio kickboxing and cycling classes to help get your heart pumping.

By the same token, you can get a great strengthening and conditioning workout with anything from martial arts to kettlebell training. The bottom line is finding the right workout from you. The more you like your exercise routine, the more you’ll make sure to actually do it.

5. Reward yourself realistically (and in the short-term)

man thinking to himself

Think about small goals to stay motivated. | iStock.com

When you ask most aspiring exercisers what they hope to get out of a workout, you’ll usually get the same abstract replies: “lose weight,” “live healthier,” among others. These are excellent long-term goals, but they aren’t particularly motivating on a short-term level, when they feel less attainable.

Instead, try focusing on more realistic rewards to look forward to in the short-term, recommends Life by Daily Burn. For instance, promise yourself you can finally grill that thick, juicy steak that’s been sitting in your fridge or reward yourself by lounging around for a bit after hitting the gym. These tangible benefits are enormously motivational, helping convince your brain that a jog, swim, hike, or strengthening session is truly a worthwhile behavior.