How to Get Over the Things You Hate About Exercise

Exercise, like broccoli, fiber and flossing, is good for you, but there are things about it that can drive you crazy. There are those annoying people at the gym, confusion about what to do and how to get started, sweating, watching the unmoving scale for weeks on's no wonder that some of us would rather just not deal with it. No matter what you hate about exercise, I'll bet I can talk you into changing your mind. Check out the most annoying things about exercise and what you can do about them.


Annoying People at the Gym

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Whatever gym you go to, chances are you'll run into annoying people. There are the machine-hoggers, the perfume-wearers and the grunters. There's the guy who leaves his weights on the machine and the woman yelling into her cell phone. It's unfortunate, but anytime you put hoards of people into a small, sweaty space, there are bound to be problems.

How to Get Over It

  • Workout at home: Set up your own home gym and get a great workout without the crowds
  • Ignore them: Pop in your headphones and focus on your own workout
  • Have a backup plan: Avoid machine-hoggers by having an alternate exercise plan
  • Find a new gym: A smaller gym or private studio may offer fewer crowds
  • Go on off hours: Early afternoon is a great time for a quiet workout

I Hate Sweating

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Sweat is a good thing because it's your body's way of keeping you cool and regulating your temperature.  Unfortunately, it's also wet and stinky, which can be a problem if you don't have time or access to a shower.  If you're tempted to skip your workout to avoid becoming a stinky, sweaty mess, these tips can help you.

How to Get Over It

  • Use no rinse body wipes to clean up after your workout
  • Wear sweat-wicking clothes:  Fabrics like COOLMAX® and dri-fit allow sweat to evaporate, leaving you dry and less stinky
  • Use antiperspirant for your underarms and other areas where you tend to sweat.  Just avoid using it on mucous membranes (nose, eyes and genitals) as it can cause irritation
  • Try a dry shampoo to get fresh, clean hair without rinsing

It's Too Confusing

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With so much confusing information out there, it's easy to give up before you get started. Choosing the right workouts for the right number of days at the right time seems impossible, but there really is no 'right' way to do it.

How to Get Over It


It's Too Boring

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Most workouts aren't going to be as fun as, say, lounging on a beach eating peeled grapes and most of us don't expect that. Still, too many people grind through workouts they don't like because they've been told it's the best way to exercise. Effective workouts are important, but they won't work if you don't do them.

How to Get Over It

  • Make it Fun:  Structured workouts are important, but fun workouts can breathe life into your routine.  A sunny walk, exergames or a bike ride all count as exercise
  • Get to Know Yourself: Find the treadmill soul-sucking?  Maybe you'd enjoy kickboxing.  Don't be afraid to give yourself permission to explore your options
  • Change Things Up:  Try a cardio medley or a fast-paced circuit workout to avoid zoning out

The Scale...Just...Won't...MOVE!

Intellectually, we understand that healthy weight loss means losing 1-2 pounds a week, but the reality of this can be depressing. After a week of sweating, lifting and watching every bite, seeing a 2-lb weight loss make you scream: "2 Pounds?! I ate broccoli! I did lunges! This is the thanks I get?"

How to Get Over It

  • Ditch the Scale: The scale may not reflect your hard work. Use measurements or your body fat to track your progress
  • Accept it: Weight loss is an up and down process and you can't control every aspect of it. Give your body time to respond to what you're doing
  • Forget About Weight LossForgetting about weight loss may motivate you more. Without that pressure, you can focus on how you feel rather than how you look

It Hurts

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Physical exertion can be uncomfortable at first and it's true that you need to challenge yourself if you want to change. However, that doesn't mean you should be in pain or miserable.

How to Get Over It

  • Start Easy: Overdoing it causes pain and soreness.  Start with beginner workouts to ease into exercise​
  • Monitor Your Intensity: Work at a moderate intensity and gradually increase it every week
  • Back Off:  If you can't breathe or feel overly fatigued, slow down to a comfortable pace
  • Deal With Soreness: Soreness is normal for beginners, but it should go away. If you're sore every day, take extra rest days
  • Avoid Pain: Never work through pain in the joints or muscles.  Stop your workout and see your doctor if it doesn't clear up

It's Too Time Consuming

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It's annoying that exercise takes time, isn't it? With so many other (more important) things to do, exercise often falls to the bottom of the priority list, especially if you don't fit it in first thing in the morning. 

How to Get Over It

  • Try Short Bouts of Exercise: Three 10-minute workouts can be just as effective as a continuous 30-minute workout and you can easily burn 100 calories in 10 minutes if you work hard enough
  • Don't Wait for the Perfect Time: Don't wait for your schedule to calm down because that may never happen. Find a way to fit it into your life now
  • Make it a Priority: We make time for things we value. Finding out how exercise is important to you can help you find the motivation to stick with it

It's Hard to Stay Motivated

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Of all the annoying things about exercise, the constant need for motivation may be the most frustrating.  Every day, you have to wake up and find a reason to exercise, all while talking yourself out of all the things that stand in your way.

How to Get Over It

  • Set Realistic Goals: Having something to work for can give you that extra nudge you need to get moving
  • Don't Wait for It:  Motivation doesn't just happen, it's something you create. What do you really want for yourself and your future?  Answering that may get you moving
  • Think Before You Skip:  Don't allow yourself to skip a workout without careful thought and consequences
  • Make Exercise Easy:  Having your workouts scheduled, your gear handy and a plan makes it easier to follow through

Early Morning Workouts

Woman doing sit ups in park
Matt Dutile/Image Source/Getty Images

Most exercisers find that early morning is the best time to exercise to avoid skipping workouts. If you're not a morning person, this can be a problem.

How to Get Over It

  • Make the Transition Gradual: If you're not used to morning exercise, start with light workouts (walking, yoga, etc.) and give yourself extra warm up time. It may take a week or two to get used to it
  • Prepare Ahead of Time: Having your workout clothes right next to the bed and putting them on immediately will help you avoid that little voice in your head urging you to go back to bed
  • Eat Light: Having some fuel for your workout will give you energy to keep going. Try lighter meals (100-300 calories) and stick with easily digestible fare like fruit, juice, or toast.

Bad Weather

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If you're an outdoor exerciser, bad weather can derail even the most enthusiastic person.  Even if you're working out inside, just the thought of driving to the gym in the rain or snow may be enough to keep you in bed.

How to Get Over It

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."