Ask LH: How Can I Motivate Myself To Exercise?

Dear Lifehacker, You hear so much these days about healthy living these days and exercise in particular. But how can you exercise when the idea of exercise holds no attraction at all?

To make it worse, my job takes me anywhere in the city or surrounds at differing times so a routine isn’t possible. So how are you supposed to do it? Having diabetes I’m supposed to exercise, but I just haven’t got the motivation. Any thoughts? Thanks, Exercise Excluder

Slob picture from Shutterstock

Dear EE,

This is quite simple really. You don’t want to exercise, so you don’t exercise. You make excuses to back that up (“I don’t have a regular routine”), but that’s not why you don’t exercise. You don’t exercise because you simply don’t like the idea. Trying to persuade people to do something they actively dislike is very difficult.

Given that, I suspect that no matter what arguments I came up with to address your specific excuse (whatever your daytime routine, what’s stopping you buying an exercise bike and cycling in front of the TV at home?), you’d produce some more. Why? Because you don’t want to exercise.

We’ve written before about how to motivate yourself to exercise. For many people, a medical diagnosis is the trigger that makes them embrace a regular (or irregular) exercise routine. Their desire to stay alive overcomes all those other triggers. But that doesn’t seem to have been the case here.

Your only chance of becoming motivated is to identify why you don’t like the idea of exercise, and come up with a strategy to overcome it. For example:

Why you won’t exercise How to beat that excuse
I’m so unfit I don’t want to over-exert myself. Take up walking.
I have no idea of what technique to use. Hire a personal trainer.
I find exercise boring. Listen to podcasts or watch TV.
I’m ashamed of my appearance. Rent equipment to use at home.
I don’t have any time to exercise. Get up half an hour earlier.
I don’t see the point of it. Carry on. It’s your body, after all.

Any other thoughts readers?


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