How Real People Learned to Actually Enjoy Exercise (Really!)

By , SparkPeople Blogger
For many people, exercise ranks right up there with cleaning the bathroom or going to the dentist: something that must be done, but brings not an ounce of enjoyment. Others might not dread it quite as much, but could take it or leave it. And then there are the lucky few who actually take pleasure in working out. Not only do they enjoy their runs, walks or trips to the gym, they often plan their entire schedules around them.
So what’s their secret? How did they transform a grueling obligation into the highlight of their day?
We turned to the best source we know—our awesome SparkPeople members—to find out how they learned to actually enjoy getting their sweat on. Read on and maybe you’ll be inspired to find your own reason to embrace exercise!
  • For me, exercise started out as “do or die.” I started to enjoy it as I became more comfortable and confident in my own skin. Working out to a favorite song, pushing through the workouts, working out with my bestie [and] doing mini challenges in my mind [helps me enjoy exercise]. Also, you can't beat the gratifying feeling of crushing a workout or a sweat-soaked T-shirt! - GYM_RAT13
  • I love my Apple Watch. If a gadget helps motivate you, it’s worth the investment. Also, try everything—classes, running, weights, boot camp, hiking, et cetera. - LINSEYBAKER82
  • I am going to credit SparkGuy for this one. His “Just 10 Minutes” video got me moving. I figured I could do anything for just 10 minutes [because]conce you start, you want to keep going. It created a consistency that had been missing from my exercise routine. Now I exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day in addition to my two to three mile walk—and I miss it if I don’t. - Pamela Brown
  • To start with, I just sucked it up! I knew I had to do it despite not wanting to. Then I realized how I felt, both physically and mentally, and realized it wasn’t all that bad. [I’m] currently down 38 pounds. - Kat Austin
  • When I started exercising regularly about 10 years ago, I actually got a job at my town's community center. I participated in their fitness classes and made friends. Knowing people in the classes helped me build consistency and gave me something to look forward to. - MLAN613
  • Biggest thing for me was that I kept it simple. Simply walking the dog around the block was my favorite exercise. Who needs a gym membership? - GADGETCC
  • After about three weeks, you get in a groove. You may not always like what you're doing, but you dislike it less. Fast forward a few months, and you don't feel quite like yourself if you take too many rest days. If "exercise" is distasteful to you, find an activity you like: maybe it's Zumba or Zumba Strong, PiYo, Pilates, walking on a treadmill while reading, watching YouTube or listening to audio books or music. - FRISKYCRITTER
  • I don’t enjoy going to a gymI’d rather work out on my own at home. I can access Coach Nicole’s workouts anywhere—no excuses! They’re challenging but doable, both in length and intensity. Accessing them on my phone has been a game changer for me! - Katherine Harris Szerdy
  • Just doing the things I enjoy, but mostly it's the freedom of movement. Being overweight is so restricting. I'm only now able to experience a range of motion that I lost. [Also], I've always loved music, so now I use it to motivate me. - TOMORROW-C
  • [Exercise is] my way of getting away from the mental stress. When I go for a run or walk, I let my mind wander and think of insignificant things that nobody else would care about, but are important to me. It’s like a mind cleanse or a form of meditation for me. - Kelly Rowell
  • I think it is motivating when you feel change and are able to do things you didn't think your body could do. - Laura Biesterveld
  • I like to print off my own Bingo sheets [and] bring the kids into play. If I exercise for the day, the kids get to pick a Bingo number and place it on the Bingo card. If they get a Bingo, we do something small for fun, like a board game night or movie night. Once the entire card is full, we do something bigger, like snow tubing at the local ski place or rent a cabin at our favorite state park for a night. If I don't exercise, then I am letting them down, as they don't get to pull a number to put on the card. - LIFESGREAT2DAY
  • I feel stronger and more confident with regular exercise. When done correctly, exercise has also helped to heal my body after injuries and other ailments, and it helps me lead a less painful life. - Donna Schumaier
  • After my heart attack, I started cardiac rehab with three sessions per week of cardio, strength and stretching. Maybe it was the combination of knowing that this was going to save my life or the fact that I found I just plain liked it, [but] regardless, exercise became something that I not only knew I had to do, but something that I liked. - MARTHA324
  • Simplicity. I love my time alone with a podcast. - CHEIVOUS
  • I enjoy doing workout videos at home. [In] the time it would take me to go to a gym, I’m halfway done with my workout. Doing videos at home gives me variety and I never get bored. – Theresa Torday
  • I run/walk and do at least one race a month, [which] helps me maintain consistency, as I want to finish the race. [For] a lot of the races I have finisher medals, and it's fun to hang them on my walls. More importantly, I love meeting people during races. I have made friends and some of us run the same races annually. - MLAN613
  • Finding something you love is key. I love aqua Zumba best, but find all water exercises good. I mix in some yoga and am starting Tai Chi. I enjoy music and class support. - Julie Kuestersteffen
  • What's important is to figure out which [activity] you actually like doing, and let your goals in that area give you motivation to move forward in the other. I've settled on triathlon [training], long-distance cycling and yoga as my exercises of choice. Lots of variety, specific goals (races) and the exercises tend to balance each other out pretty well. - ENGINEERMOM
  • I sort of backed into it. At first, I just started taking several 10-minute walks per day, often at work. That [became] a time when I could just think through a problem and come back refreshed in body and mind. - MARTHA324
  • I have been buying music on Amazon and creating playlists that I only allow myself to listen to during workout time. It is like therapy to me. - Rachael Keeney
  • I started with a trainer in a fitness challenge. Through that trainer, I joined his gym. I started a circuit class and loved the people so much that it made me like lifting! - Sherry Waugh
  • When I first started exercising 20 years ago, I started with walking. I bought a manual treadmill with moving arms and walked one mile a day. I didn’t enjoy it at first, but I enjoyed having accomplished a goal. After a while, I noticed I felt better on the days I exercised. Then the weight started coming off and I was hooked! - Cathy Smetana
  • [I enjoy] walking, especially with my dog—exploring trails just to see where they lead, beautiful scenery and watching her run and play. Before I knew it, I went from walking a couple of blocks to a couple of miles. Strength training takes a bit more motivation at times, but once I get started, the feel-good endorphins take over, giving me the motivation to finish. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I've finished a good, sweat-breaking workout. The payoff is definitely worth the effort! - Josie Snowden-Hank
  • I have limited mobility from neuropathy and cannot walk fast enough for it to raise my heart rate. I bought a rebounder (a small trampoline) because of the low impact. I put it in front of a table so I could hold on for balance. It was effective, but boring until I brought my laptop in and turned on some 80’s music. That turned a 10-minute drudgery warm-up into a fun 30-minute walk, jog, dance event! - Susan Longo Platt
  • I love music, so I look forward to my special playlist with my most favorite songs at the end of my workout. I walk and move in the pool, so I treat it like play. - Judy Muhleman
  • My goal is to run a 5K, but right now the thought of running is overwhelming and daunting, so I'm walking more and I'm loving it. After only a few weeks, I can say that I genuinely enjoy my walks. Next week, I'm going to start adding running intervals. - Jhana Marquez
  • I’m a walker and started in 2003 when our family was going through a very difficult time. It was the only way I could think of to handle it. I wasn’t focused on weight loss, but a few years later, I started on that journey, too. I’m still walking and continue to work on keeping healthy. - Sandy Bloesch
  • I listen to my music on my earbuds while walking, [which] makes it more enjoyable. You can also shut it off for a few minutes and do some walking meditation. - Cathy Rohl
  • Finding something you don't hate is key. Turns out I love weight training—who knew? Thinking of it as activity rather than exercise also helped, and the more regularly you do it, the harder it becomes to skip it. - Jacquie Lloyd 
Have you learned to love exercise? If so, what’s your secret?

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