Are you an exercise hater?
Does this sound like you? You don’t want to exercise. If someone told you that you had to go out and run, would you tell them to go away? Maybe it makes you feel stressed or anxious that you have to move your body in front of other people? Would you rather do anything else besides “exercise”? You might be an exercise hater. And that is okay.
Why you are an exercise hater.
Diet culture hasn’t been kind to women in larger bodies that want to exercise. You are told that you needed to lose weight before going to the gym.
And that some types of exercise are only for people that look a certain way.1 Gym clothes don’t fit us the right way. You feel self-conscious when you exercise. That isn’t your fault. It is how you are told you should feel because you are in larger bodies doing activities that usually idolize thin bodies.
Research has found that women who have experienced weight stigma or feel bad about their bodies are less likely to exercise.1
That sucks. Exercise isn’t only for thin people with low body fat. Exercise is for everyone. Including you and me. You have the right to exercise in ways that feel authentic and enjoyable for your body. If you are feeling stressed out about weight stigma, check out my post on how to manage it here.
If the word exercise freaks you out a little, I get it. Exercise can have negative connotations. Were you forced to exercise when you were younger? Or maybe you have abused exercise before. Guess what? You don’t have to call it exercise. You can call it joyful movement.
That changes it a bit, doesn’t it? If you are joyfully moving your body, that doesn’t sound miserable, does it? Joyful movement is about embracing the types of activity that you want to do. You get to ditch the negative connotations of exercise and embrace the fun.
4 Tips to Overcoming the Exercise Hater Within
1. Remember that it isn’t exercise, it is joyful movement.
If you think about exercise as negative, as something you are being forced to do, you don’t want to do it. That makes sense. So know, that you aren’t being forced to do something miserable. You are an adult. You get to pick how and when you move your body. Choose to dance this day and lift weights the next day. You can choose to dance all week. Whatever feels right to you. This isn’t about forcing yourself to follow an exercise plan that someone other than you designed. This is about doing what you want.
There are many body-positive and joyful movement-based Instagram accounts that can be of great support. One of my favorites is @bodypositivefitness. They focus on moving for fun and feature women in larger bodies in their posts.
2. Make movement fun by getting creative with your activity.
This is the real trick. Finding how to move your body in a way you love is so important. When you have a movement that you love and makes your body feel strong, you can start to enjoy moving again. If you aren’t sure what movement you love, think back to when you were a kid. Did you have an activity that you loved doing? What are the activities that you always wanted to try but didn’t do because you were worried about your body? Try it now. See how it feels to you. You may just find that thing that sparks joy in you.
Do you have a friend that has a movement they enjoy? Join them? Try it out. Experimenting and trying new things is powerful. You never know when you will find a movement that you love.
3. Know that it is joyful movement is not a requirement.
Yes, regular movement is shown by research to be good for your body. It can help reduce blood pressure, stress, and increase your muscle strength. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it. Think about it, if there is a day that you don’t feel like moving your body, is it going to give you joy if you force yourself to? Probably not. So don’t force it. Wait until moving your body sounds fun to you.
Remember, this is something that you are doing for yourself. Because you want to. Not because of a social construct that tells you that you have to exercise to be a “good” or “healthy” person.
4. Check in with yourself.
After joyfully moving your body, check in with yourself. Take a few moments and see how your body feels.
Do you feel strong? Tired? Invigorated? Did you have fun?
Were you miserable the whole time?
Checking in with yourself is a powerful tool. This information can help you find out what movement actually sparks joy in you and what types of movement aren’t a good fit for you. Did you do something you hated? You can feel free to put it on the back burner for a while and try something new! If you felt great after a particular activity, that is a great sign that you might want to do that activity more often.
You can be an exercise hater and a joyful movment lover.
It is okay if you still hate “exercise”. Feeling like you have to do something can be miserable. Reclaim the joy in moving your body by practicing joyful movement instead. Additionally, making this change may increase your satisfaction with your body.2 This sounds like a great side bonus to me. We can all use a little more body positivity.
We all have different health concerns so make sure that you check in with your doctor before starting any new exercise or type of movement. This helps keep you safe while doing the things you love.
Want to talk more about exercise and joyful movement? You can reach out to me about it here.
- More KR, Phillips LA, Eisenberg Colman MH. Evaluating the potential roles of body dissatisfaction in exercise avoidance. Body Image. 2019;28:110-114. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2019.01.003.
- Balciuniene V, Jankauskiene R, Baceviciene M. Effect of an education and mindfulness-based Physical Activity Intervention for the promotion of positive body image in Lithuanian female students. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity. 2021. doi:10.1007/s40519-021-01195-4.