Fitness Series

5 Tips To Overcome Exercise Apathy

We all know the importance of exercise. From reducing major health risks to boosting mood, vitality and even brain power! Yet the sad fact remains that less that 80% of the developed world achieve the recommended level of exercise every week, with many people still doing no structured exercise at all. Obesity levels continue to rise and cardiac disease remains a major killer in the western world. The fact is we all need to overcome our exercise apathy and make positive steps if we want to live longer and fuller lives. So what tips will help you to get active and stay more consistent?

Aim For Shorter, More Intense Workouts
The most common excuse given for not exercising is lack of time. We all lead busy lives, have demanding jobs and hectic social commitments. But what if you could burn fat, improve your cardiovascular health and feel better with just 4 minutes of exercise a day? Surely we could all manage that.

The fact is that lack of time is no longer a valid excuse for not exercising. As exercise scientists have revealed, shorter more intense workouts can be just as effective, if not more so than longer exercise sessions. In fact some of the world’s leading celebrity personal trainers now recommend short “power workouts” to their clients lasting as little as 4 minutes at a time!

These short, intense workouts are based upon the principle of interval training which can provide many of the benefits of prolonged exercise but in a fraction of the time. Scientists at McMaster University in Ontario found that just a few minutes of exercise when working at one’s maximum capacity produced changes within the muscles similar to those produced with several hours of prolonged low-intensity jogging or cycling.

Shorter workouts are also easier to fit into our schedule and don’t go on long enough for boredom to set in. Evidence shows that we are also more likely to stick to exercise by keeping each session shorter.

Exercise With Others
Even some of the world’s highest paid sports stars admit to having days that they would rather not train. On those kind of days its great to have a workout buddy who can help you find your mojo. Training with friends or family is a proven way of helping to stay motivated. This is one of reasons exercise classes have become so popular, from BodyPump to Zumba there are all sorts of classes you could choose from. Even if you just want to go for a run, why not go with a friend and run together. Adding a social element to exercise can really help to keep your interest levels higher.

Set Yourself Specific Goals
Exercising with no goal is like sailing a boat with no real destination. Yes the journey can be fun, but where precisely are you heading? It’s proven that we are likely to stay more motivated and will stick to exercise more consistently if we have a pre-defined goal. It may be a weight loss target or perhaps a fitness goal. Try finding a picture of the kind of body you aspire to and stick this on the fridge. It’s a reminder to you every day of what you’re working towards. Set yourself mini-goals along the way to help to keep yourself focused.

Reward Yourself For Your Exercise Efforts
Remember at school when you got rewarded for good work? Didn’t you feel good? It’s a proven psychological trigger that helps us to want to do well and to continue to push ourselves. So why not promise yourself a reward if you achieve your fitness goals. It could be an item of clothing, a night at the movies or just an afternoon with your feet up. Setting rewards for your actions has been proven to help with exercise adherence.


Vary Your Exercise Routine
We all make time for doing the things we enjoy. That’s just human nature. So why push yourself to run endlessly on a treadmill if you hate doing it! There are so many ways we can get fit from individual pursuits like running, climbing and trekking to team sports like football, tennis and volleyball. Find an activity you will enjoy and one you are likely to stick to and don’t be afraid to try new pursuits. Maybe get your family involved and go cycling together at weekends. By keeping your exercise regime less routine and more varied you will be far more likely to stick with it.

* * *
Matthew Rowe is an exercise physiologist and master personal trainer at MotivatePT where he helps inspire others to lead healthy and more fulfilling lives through fitness and wellbeing. With over 20 years experience in the Fitness Industry, Matthew is a prolific writer and speaker on the subject of all things health and fitness related.

  • arbee ara

    oh… that was amazing…. but the major problem is that i just dont love exercising…. so please suggest me… what should i do????

    • SleepyTerrier

      Place a mental emphasis on enjoying the rewards that exercise brings, rather than expecting to enjoy the physical exertion itself.

    • Frida

      Jazzercise! Seriously, give it 5 times and there’s no way you’re not going to enjoy it! :)

  • Matthew Rowe

    Many people don’t “enjoy” exercise but that can sometimes be because they go about it wrong. The article hopefully gives you some pointers as to how you can find that little extra motivation like keeping your workouts short, adding variety and rewards! By using these concepts you should find it becomes less of a chore.

    I always say that it’s important to find an exercise you enjoy. Maybe you just haven’t found the right exercise yet. I hear so many people tell me that they find it boring running on a treadmill for example. I can understand that. It may not be everyone’s idea of fun. So try something else. There are thousands of exercises to choose from. Once you find something you do kinda enjoy it won’t seem so arduous and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Try exercising with others too. Team sports with friends can be lots of fun and a great way to increase your motivation to exercise.

  • Possibly Depressed

    Shorter more intense exercises are fine, but they rob you of one of the main benefits which is cardiovascular health. that only comes with prolonged periods at the cardio rate. Still better than nothing though…

    http://possiblydepressed.blogspot.com/

    • Matthew Rowe

      This is not entirely true. Studies show that shorter more intense workouts can give the same aerobic (cardio) benefits of longer workouts in some people. It depends upon your genetics as to how you respond and also what you do during your workouts.

      • TryingMyBest

        When you say “studies show,” could you please attach a link that takes us directly to these studies? That way we can see for ourselves the supporting evidence for your argument. Thanks!!

  • shubham

    some times its boring doing exercise regularly, i perform yoga which is an Indian way of doing exercises and they are effective than any other exercises…but the thing i lack is that after a week or so i get bored..and my brain doesnt want me to start new exercise..please tell me how to control my brain and psychology too..

    • Matthew Rowe

      Develop an exercise rota for the month ahead. Ensure you have set your exercise regime to change every 5 days and plan what it is you will be doing next. This will ensure you don’t have time to get bored nor the time to procrastinate over which exercise you will do next.

  • everythingofcooking

    I do Tracy Anderson’s post pregnancy workout twice a week and i’m fully satisfied with it. Though it often becomes a routine and i don’t like feeling bored, so i sometimes change to yoga or others but always return to Tracy Anderson since i still cannot find anything better for me.
    http://everythingofcooking.com/

  • Scarlet Evelyn

    Some say it takes 30-40 days to change/create a habit. At first, exercising seems like a drag, a boring and tedious chore; but once you start seeing results and figure out what kinds of exercises you personally like, you’ll realize that you actually enjoy the process. Plus there’s a satisfaction that comes from achieving goals, which in and of itself is psychologically rewarding which also helps shift your perception of exercise as a boring chore to an enjoyable time. Just keep at it and don’t give up!