If you’re one of the many people who don’t like to exercise, you probably think of working out as a grueling hour of pain and sweat. It’s a punishment for all those unhealthy snacks, a necessary evil but a horrible experience.
A lot of people see exercise that way, and it keeps people from lacing their best running shoesor closing their rings on their apple watch, because they can’t bear the thought of another horrible race. However, if you want to make 2023 your healthiest year ever, it helps to know that exercise doesn’t have to be hard or strenuous. Research indicates that doing something you enjoy, little and often, is the key to maintaining a workout habit.
An article published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (opens in a new tab) look at what it takes for people to stick to a workout habit. Researchers from universities in the United States and Portugal write that “decades of reports have shown that health clubs have high dropout rates, especially in the first three to six months of practice.”
The researchers concluded that the fact that you like to exercise plays an important role in whether you stick to a habit. [exercise]thus reinforcing it (when it is perceived as interesting or pleasant) or avoiding it (when it is perceived as unpleasant, uninteresting or boring), influencing engagement and commitment to exercise”.
Thus, to maintain a regular training regime, willpower is not enough. Exercise should be enjoyable and fun.
A great way to make exercise enjoyable, especially for beginners, is to participate in a hobby or activity that gets you out, like cycling (whether you use a conventional push bike or one of the best e-bikes), playing a sport you love, or just walking. walk to lose weight is incredibly easy to fit into your life: it’s low intensity, low impact, and you can pass the time getting lost in an audiobook or podcast you enjoy. Apple Fitness+ offers “Time to Walk” audio sessions, in which coaches and celebrities record personal stories designed to be experienced on a walk.
I’m as guilty as anyone: I sometimes force myself to hit the gym or go for a strenuous run, when my energy levels are low. My body battery and workout readiness scores on the best garmin watch could be at a low point, and I usually won’t be able to lift the amount of weight or hit the time I set for that day. When this happens, I end the session disappointed and discouraged, wondering why I even bothered.
What helps is a change in mentality. If I really don’t want to go to the gym or run a prescribed distance, I’ll often switch things up with a short run, maybe leaving my smartwatch at home. Without a stopwatch and without supervision, I could run at my own pace, stop and stretch by the river, enjoy the view without worrying about ruining my splits on Strava.
Alternatively, if I’m in a bit of a fitness rut, I sometimes arrange to go rock climbing with friends or book a yoga class. I don’t follow my fitness routine, but I still exercise and have fun. You could set aside time for hiking on the weekends or do a ten-minute low-intensity workout in front of your TV, instead of spending an hour at the gym.
Being flexible and taking advantage of easy workouts can help you make movement a part of your life, rather than an occasional punishment for an indulgent period. If you stop after 20 minutes, when things get uncomfortable, that’s okay. After all, that’s 20 minutes longer than you otherwise would have done today.
Obviously, this advice may not be suitable for those training for a specific purpose, such as a marathon, or those following a strict muscle-building program. But if you’re struggling to have fun and keep exercising, don’t be discouraged: take it easy, find an activity you enjoy, and stop when it gets unpleasant. Science says you’re more likely to come back for another try.
- This article is part of TechRadar’s Get Fit For ’23 Week