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Hate to Exercise? 6 Fixes

By Joy Manning
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD

You know you should work out, since it's good for you. So why is it so hard to stay active?

Turns out, the reasons might not be what you think. Here, a look at what’s really preventing you from sticking with an exercise routine -- and advice on how to keep at it.

1. You’re Working Out for Weight Loss

One of the top reasons for starting a fitness program is weight loss. It’s a surprisingly bad motivator when it comes to getting you to lace up those sneakers.

In one study, some women exercised to lose weight. Other women, who exercised to feel better and curb stress, worked out more.

The fix: “You should remind yourself often of all the ways exercise makes you feel good, like having more energy and getting better rest, that have nothing to do with weight loss,” Maryann Jacobsen, RD, says.

2. You’re Going Overboard

There’s no doubt that exercise can be a big life change, but at the beginning the change shouldn’t be drastic.

“Too many people dive in, overdo it, and then quit because it is just too much,” Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD, says.

The fix: Ease into an exercise routine and start slowly, maybe with just 5 minutes of walking per day, if you're not active now, Becker-Phelps says.

3. You Feel Bad About Your Body

Maybe you’re self-conscious about your stomach when you do a sit-up, or you don’t like the way you look in yoga pants. Or it might be more than that.

"For some people, exercising can dredge up feelings of being picked last in gym as a kid,” says Rich Weil, director of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center Weight Loss Program.

The fix: Weil recommends searching online for supportive activity groups for adults of all sizes. “Many YMCAs and private gyms offer these types of safe spaces,” he says.

Working out in the privacy of your own home is another option. Find a workout that’s right for you on a DVD, YouTube channel, or podcast. “This is stuff you can do in your jammies,” Weil says.

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