The Blog

November 13, 2020

How to Get Exercise Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

Life can get hectic, and some days, you simply don’t feel like working out. This feeling happens to everyone sometimes, even personal trainers.

That said, if you haven’t fully established your exercise habit and turned it into a routine, feeling unmotivated to workout on one day can quickly snowball into multiple days. If you repeatedly give in to not feeling like exercising, this trend can cause you to relapse or backslide on your fitness goals.

Thankfully, you can take control of the situation. Your response in these moments is what matters, not your feelings. You can choose to exercise even though you don’t feel like doing it.

The more you practice following through on your workout plan, the easier it gets. You can create the habit of exercising, no matter how you feel.

How to Get Yourself Exercising Even on Days You Don’t Feel Like It

We all have ‘off days’ when we don’t feel like doing certain things. While being motivated to workout helps get you going, feeling motivated isn’t required to get started. You can develop techniques that help you get going even when you don’t feel like it.

Identify why you don’t want to workout

If you follow through on your fitness plan most of the time, then an occasional day off is less likely to jeopardize your exercise habit. However, if you struggle most days to get started with exercising, you may want to dig deeper to discover what’s interfering with your motivation to workout.

When exploring what’s getting in the way, consider:

  • Practical elements, like the time of day and type of exercises you’ve chosen
  • Emotional factors, like how it feels to exercise and your confidence
  • Past experiences that may be influencing your current beliefs and motivation

These factors influence your mindset and motivation. Take time to create a list of everything you identify. Be open and honest with yourself during this process. You may discover there is more than one thing. Additionally, your reason for not feeling like exercising may change. You can’t problem-solve this situation if you don’t know what is holding you back.

Once you have your list of barriers, beliefs, and feelings, look through each one and dig deeper to find solutions. Perhaps, you hate working out at the gym because it takes too much time, or you don’t like being around others. Work out at home. Find an online program you enjoy or exercise in your neighborhood.

Do you hate exercising? Explore why. Is it because of past experiences? Do you struggle to find an activity you enjoy? Consider setting a goal to try different types of workouts. Ask a friend to exercise with you once a week (or more), so you’re pairing something you like (being with your friend) with something you don’t like (working out). Over time, you’ll enjoy your workouts more because they are associated with things you like.

Do you struggle with feelings of low confidence because of difficulties establishing an exercise routine in the past? Try journaling, or doodle journaling your emotions. These activities can allow you to get the feelings out and then look at them openly and honestly.

The more you understand what interferes with your desire to work out on most days, the easier it will be to select specific strategies to overcome these barriers so you can be successful.

Be prepared—have a set of alternative actions ready to use

Do you follow through on your exercise plans most of the time and only occasionally struggle with not wanting to work out? Then having a set of alternative actions you can use at those times may be all you need.

Some alternative actions you can take when you’re not feeling motivated include:

  • Making a deal with yourself to exercise for only 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes are up, you can stop—guilt-free. You may find that most of the time, you continue exercising once you’ve gotten started. However, even if you stop, exercising for 10 minutes can help your health and fitness. Plus, you’ve kept your habit intact.
  • Visualizing how you’ll feel if you skip your workout versus how you’ll feel if you complete it. Think of a time when you didn’t exercise because you didn’t feel like it. How did you feel later? What kind of self-talk did you engage in? Then think of a time when you worked out even though you didn’t feel like it. How did you feel during and afterward? Were you glad you pushed yourself? Visualizing can help you reconnect with your reason, or your why, for making a healthy change.
  • Reminding yourself that feelings change, and you can still get started even if you don’t feel like it. You don’t need to be motivated to workout. Motivation is helpful—it can help us start new habits, make changes in our lives, and keep us going through difficulties. That said, you can still do difficult tasks even when you don’t feel like it. Your motivation will likely increase as you do the activity.
  • Trying a new exercise or workout. If you’ve been feeling bored with your regular workout, change things up with something new for that day. Taking an occasional day to do something different can help increase your motivation and keep exercising fun.
  • Working out with a friend. Exercising with a friend helps your motivation, consistency, and can even result in you working out harder.
  • Reminding yourself of why it’s important for you to exercise. You started working out consistently for a reason—maybe you wanted to set a good example for your family, reduce your risk of a chronic illness, lose weight, or feel better. Your reason why is a powerful motivator. When you feel yourself wavering, take time to remember your ‘Why.’  If you haven’t already, write down your reason why in a journal or on a sticky note and make it easy to access.
  • Completing the small actions you usually do before you exercise. When you exercise, you likely have a set of tasks you do right before working out. You may change into your workout clothes, set out equipment, or fill up a water bottle. Go ahead and complete those actions even if you don’t feel like working out. Doing those actions may be enough to get you started.

You Can Get Yourself Exercising Even On Days When You Don’t Feel Like It

Everyone has an occasional day when they don’t feel like working out. You may decide to take it easy on those days, or you may incorporate an alternative action to get you moving despite not feeling like it.

However, if you struggle most days with not wanting to exercise, then consider taking time to understand why you don’t want to work out. The more you understand your barriers, the easier it will be to find a solution that keeps you moving forward with your fitness goals. You do have control over your actions, even on the days when you don’t feel like exercising.

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