Tips for Overcoming the Dread of Exercising

Exercising is a crucial component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but many people find it challenging to overcome the dread associated with physical activity. Whether it’s the fear of discomfort, lack of motivation, or a busy schedule, these hurdles can hinder our efforts to stay fit. However, with the right mindset and strategies, overcoming the dread of exercising is possible and making it a more enjoyable and rewarding experience. In this article, we will explore seven tips to help you conquer your exercise fears and develop a sustainable fitness routine.

1. Compliment Yourself

Dr. Goldman cautions us about the importance of our internal dialogue and the language we use when addressing ourselves. She emphasizes that our thoughts, emotions, and actions are interconnected, implying that negative thoughts can influence our behavior and lead to negative feelings. However, Dr. Goldman suggests that we have the power to alter this pattern by adopting a positive mindset and employing compassionate self-talk. By consciously choosing uplifting thoughts and using kinder language in our self-dialogue, we can reshape our behavior and promote a more positive emotional state. [1]

2. Set Realistic Goals

One common reason for dreading exercise is setting unrealistic goals. When we set the bar too high, it becomes overwhelming, and we are more likely to give up before even starting. Instead, focus on setting achievable goals that align with your current fitness level. Start small and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. By setting realistic goals, you create a sense of accomplishment and stay motivated throughout your fitness journey.

3. Find Activities You Enjoy

The key to overcoming the dread of exercising is to find activities that you genuinely enjoy. Experiment with different forms of physical activity until you discover something that sparks your interest. It could be dancing, cycling, swimming, hiking, or even playing a team sport. When you engage in activities you genuinely like, it becomes easier to stay committed and look forward to your workouts. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be limited to a traditional gym setting—get creative and find what makes you excited to move.

4. Incorporate Variety

Doing the same workout routine day after day can quickly lead to boredom and dread. To combat this, incorporate variety into your exercise regimen. Mix up your activities, try new workouts or classes, and explore different environments. For instance, if you enjoy running, alternate between outdoor runs, treadmill sessions, and trail runs. If you prefer strength training, experiment with different equipment, such as free weights, resistance bands, or kettlebells. Adding variety keeps your workouts fresh and engaging, preventing the monotony that often leads to dread.

5. Focus On the Benefits

Shift your mindset from viewing exercise as a chore to recognizing its numerous benefits. Regular physical activity improves mood, boosts energy levels, reduces stress, and enhances overall well-being. Additionally, exercise plays a vital role in preventing chronic diseases, maintaining a healthy weight, and improving cardiovascular health. Remind yourself of these benefits regularly, especially when the dread of exercising creeps in. Developing a positive attitude towards exercise can help reframe your perception and motivate you to stay committed.

6. Find A Workout Buddy

Exercising with a friend or joining a group fitness class can make the experience more enjoyable and less daunting. Having a workout buddy provides mutual accountability, support, and camaraderie, which can significantly increase motivation. You can cheer each other on, share fitness tips, and even make it a social activity. Look for a friend who shares similar fitness goals or consider joining a local sports club or fitness community. Connecting with like-minded individuals can make exercising a fun and sociable experience, reducing the dread associated with it.

7. Create A Schedule and Stick To It

One of the biggest challenges in overcoming the dread of exercising is finding time in our busy schedules. However, you can overcome this hurdle by prioritizing your workouts and creating a schedule. Treat exercise as an important appointment and allocate specific time slots for physical activity. It could be early mornings, lunch breaks, or evenings—choose a time that works best for you and commit to it. Consistency is key, as it helps establish a routine and makes exercise a natural part of your day. By sticking to your schedule, you eliminate the decision-making process and reduce the dread of finding time to exercise.

8. Celebrate Your Achievements

Celebrate your achievements along the way. Recognize and reward yourself for reaching milestones, whether completing a challenging workout, increasing your endurance, or achieving your personal best. Treat yourself to small, non-food-related incentives like a massage, a new workout outfit, or a relaxing bath. Celebrating your achievements boosts your self-confidence, reinforces positive behavior, and makes the journey more enjoyable. By focusing on your progress, you can overcome the dread of exercising and stay motivated to continue pushing yourself.

9. Prioritize Hydration

According to Dr. Shemek, insufficient water intake can result in elevated stress levels and an increase in the hormone cortisol. Prioritizing proper hydration before entering the gym is crucial as it aids in mental clarity, which is essential for an effective workout. To keep stress under control, it is important to consume an adequate amount of water daily. Dr. Shemek suggests considering the use of a water ionizer to ensure that you are not consuming overly acidic water. Tap water, which contains chlorine, can potentially harm beneficial gut bacteria.

10. When Life Happens, Get Back Up

At some stage, we have all experienced setbacks in our pursuit of goals, including fitness. It is inevitable that life’s circumstances may occasionally hinder our progress. However, what truly matters is how we recover from these setbacks. Rather than dwelling on the time that has passed since our last physical exertion, it is crucial to recognize that the upcoming moments, months, and years will elapse regardless. The question then becomes: where do you envision yourself at the conclusion of each of these time frames?


Overcoming the dread of exercising requires a combination of mindset shifts and practical strategies. By setting realistic goals, finding activities you enjoy, incorporating variety, focusing on the benefits, finding a workout buddy, creating a schedule, and celebrating your achievements, you can conquer your exercise fears and develop a sustainable fitness routine. Remember, it’s essential to approach exercise with a positive mindset and make it an enjoyable part of your lifestyle. With consistency and perseverance, you can overcome the dread and reap the countless benefits of regular physical activity.