Three fit young women embrancing and laughing after a workout

How to Enjoy Working Out

Tired of dreading your workouts? You're not alone. But it doesn't have to be this way. Exercise can be something you genuinely look forward to, and it's not just about sculpting the perfect body. It's about unlocking a world of well-being, from reduced stress levels to a decreased risk of depression.


Working out - a term that can evoke both enthusiasm and dread. We've all been there, grappling with the internal debate of whether to lace up those sneakers or find an excuse to skip yet another session. But what if we told you that working out doesn't have to be a grueling ordeal? What if you could actually enjoy it, relishing every drop of sweat and every beat of your heart?

Before you envision us as the eternal fitness enthusiasts who've never felt the pangs of exercise reluctance, let us assure you that we've been there too. We've felt the resistance and groaned at the mere thought of it. However, we've also discovered that exercise can indeed become something you genuinely look forward to. How? That's what we're here to explore.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you on a journey from the world of workout aversion to the realm of workout enjoyment. It's not just about sculpting the perfect body or logging in hours at the gym - it's about the mental and physical benefits that come with genuinely savoring your workouts. When you enjoy your exercises, you unlock a world of well-being: from reduced stress levels to a decreased risk of depression.

So, let's dive into the world of tips and strategies that can help you shift from workout reluctance to workout enthusiasm. We'll explore the power of mindset, the wisdom of experts, and the role of play in making exercise something you look forward to. Get ready to embark on a journey where each workout feels like a step closer to both physical and mental well-being.

Tired woman stading on treadmill at the gym

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

One of the primary roadblocks on the path to enjoying your workouts is the habit of comparing yourself to others. It's a common pitfall. You might find yourself in a fitness class, stealing glances at that person who seems to effortlessly perform those complex yoga poses or lift heavier weights.

The internal dialogue begins – "She's so much fitter than me! I'll never catch up." It's a recipe for turning your workout into a negative experience.

It's crucial to understand that everyone's fitness journey is unique. Your progress isn't measured by someone else's standards. Instead, embrace self-compassion. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem.

When you stop comparing and start acknowledging your personal growth, every workout becomes a victory, no matter how modest. It's the first step to truly enjoying the journey.


Work Out with Friends

While some prefer the solitude of a solo workout, others discover that working out with friends can transform the experience into a social event. It's like a girls' night out with an added dose of endorphins.

When team members exercise together, their bodies release a higher amount of those feel-good endorphins. So, before you send out workout invitations to just anyone, think about the friends who can push you and make exercising an uplifting experience.

Choosing the right workout buddies is essential. Seek out those with a positive approach to exercise and a shared commitment to make fitness enjoyable. When you share the sweat and laughter with friends, every session becomes a memorable adventure.


Play to Your Workout Personality

Ever considered that your exercise aversion might be because you haven't found a routine that matches your personality?

Your workout preferences are deeply intertwined with your character, likes, and dislikes. This is why it's crucial to take an inventory of your fitness inclinations. Do you crave social workouts or prefer solitary activities? Does your heart race at the thought of high-intensity training, or do you find tranquility in low-impact exercises?

The key to enjoying workouts is to be open to new experiences. Try different activities and pay attention to what truly resonates with you. The journey to discovering your workout personality may involve a bit of trial and error, but it's worth it.

Once you find the right fitness avenue that aligns with your personality, exercise will cease to be a burden and instead become a joyful expression of yourself. So, don't be afraid to explore. Your perfect workout match may be just around the corner.


Read more: Is High-Intensity Interval Training Right For You?

Women in yoga class

Take Advantage of Your Strengths

Focusing on your strengths can be a game-changer when it comes to enjoying your workouts. Most people naturally gravitate toward activities they excel in and often steer clear of those they struggle with.

Confidence in your exercise ability is the strongest predictor of how often you work out. If you possess exceptional strength, perhaps from lugging around a 30-pound toddler daily, weightlifting might become your newfound passion. Identifying your strengths and channeling them into your fitness routine can make exercise feel less like a chore and more like an opportunity to showcase your abilities.

Remember that your strengths are unique to you, and they can profoundly shape your workout preferences. They not only make exercise more enjoyable but also boost your self-esteem as you discover your own prowess.


Name One Thing You Like About Working Out

Sometimes, all it takes to reignite your workout enthusiasm is a trip down memory lane. The simple act of recalling a positive exercise memory can significantly boost your motivation to get back into the groove. It's crucial, however, that these memories are linked to the process of working out itself, rather than the outcomes. Whether it's the infectious laughter during a Color Run or the empowering feeling of strength while playing high school sports, these moments of pure enjoyment are what you should focus on.

By steering your attention away from the fixation on results and concentrating on the journey, you enter a state of flow. This is akin to those "time flies when you're having fun" moments. In a flow state, the internal chatter in your mind quiets down, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the present moment and enjoy your workout for what it is—an experience to cherish.


Reframe Exercise as a Reward

Your mindset significantly influences how you perceive exercise. If you view it as a punishment for indulging in that scoop of ice cream, you set yourself up for a negative approach to working out. Research has shown that dissatisfaction with one's body is inversely related to exercise frequency. In other words, the less satisfied you are with your body, the less likely you are to exercise.

Instead, try reframing exercise as a reward for a hard day's work or as a form of stress relief. This shift in perspective is a powerful way to build a positive mindset around fitness. It might require practice, but it's well worth the effort. When you view exercise as a gift you give yourself, a time of self-care and self-improvement, it transforms your relationship with workouts. The reward isn't just a healthier body, it's also a happier and more positive outlook on life.

Woman happily listening to music on headphones after a workout

Crank Up the Tunes

Have you ever noticed how music can transform even the dullest tasks into something enjoyable? The same magic works with workouts. Music is like the secret sauce that can make your exercise routine infinitely more fun.

In fact, a study conducted by McMaster University revealed that 95% of participants enjoyed their workouts more when they had music playing in the background. It's not just about any music, though. The tempo matters. Fast-paced music, with beats per minute (bpm) ranging from 140 to 160, is often the best choice for boosting your mood, energy, and workout performance.

To make things even easier, you can search for playlists with 160 bpm tracks on music platforms like Spotify. This simple trick can infuse your workouts with energy and excitement, making the whole experience far more enjoyable.


Mix Things Up

Once you've found a workout that you enjoy, the key to keeping it that way is variety. Doing the same routine repeatedly can lead to boredom and, eventually, decreased motivation. A study from the University of British Columbia found that participants who felt their workouts had the most variety were also more likely to enjoy them.

So, don't hesitate to mix things up. If you're an avid runner, consider adding a monthly dance class or experiment with circuit-style strength training. The goal is to prevent monotony from taking over and to keep your workouts exciting. The variety not only keeps your body guessing, which is great for continued progress, but also keeps your mind engaged, making each workout a new adventure.


Read more: How to Stay Consistent with Working Out


Group of people doing the plank exercise and high-fiving each other


How to Enjoy Working Out If You Hate Exercise

If the mere thought of exercise sends shivers down your spine, take heart - you can change your perspective and learn to enjoy working out.

Exercise is not just about lifting weights or running marathons - it's a path to a healthier, happier life. The World Health Organization reports that leading a sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of premature death by 20% to 30%. This statistic alone should inspire you to give exercise a chance.

But how do you transform from a fitness-phobe to a workout aficionado? It starts with a change in mindset an dunderstanding that exercise is vital to your overall health. Not only does it significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers, it also strengthens your body, improves sleep, and even relieves stress.


Expert Tips on Staying Motivated

1. Do What You Love

One of the golden rules for loving your workouts is to do what you genuinely love. Your choice of activity should resonate with your interests and preferences. Exercise comes in countless forms - from weightlifting to yoga, nature walks to competitive sports - and it's crucial to find what sparks your passion. Eisner, an expert in the field, suggests, "Honor yourself by listening to your body and temperament, and don't do something just because you think you should. The more you genuinely enjoy something, the more likely you are to stick with it." So, keep experimenting until you find that one activity that makes you excited to move.


2. Focus on the Outcome

A great way to boost your motivation is by focusing on the outcomes of your workouts. While the physical effort can be challenging, think about how good you'll feel both physically and mentally once you complete your exercise. Exercise stimulates dopamine in your brain, a feel-good neurotransmitter, which helps associate your workouts with positivity. In the words of Eisner, we want exercise to be something that feels good in the body, boosts your mood, lowers anxiety, and fosters positive self-esteem. When you view exercise as a source of pleasure and self-care, it becomes less of a chore and more of a rewarding experience.


3. Incorporate Play

As adults, we often forget the sheer joy of play, but it's a crucial element for enjoying workouts. Incorporating play into your fitness routine can transform exercise from a chore into a delightful experience. Whether it's dancing to your favorite tunes in your living room or joining a recreational sports team, play allows you to move freely, experiment, and get into a 'flow' state where you lose track of time. Play is not only fun but also invigorating for the mind and body. So, don't be afraid to explore new activities or revisit sports you loved as a child, like soccer or tennis, and join adult teams to rediscover the excitement of play.


4. Make It Social

Working out doesn't have to be a solitary endeavor. In fact, involving friends or like-minded partners can significantly enhance your exercise experience. The social aspect of exercise can be a powerful motivator. It's easier to get moving when you have a workout buddy who shares your enthusiasm. This social connection is essential for maintaining consistency and boosting endorphins, as expert Eisner confirms. Your workout partner doesn't have to be a human; your furry friend can be the perfect exercise companion. So, find someone, human or otherwise, who can join you on your fitness journey and make it all the more enjoyable.


5. Remove the Pressure

Setting achievable goals is the key to removing the pressure from your workouts. Whether you're a beginner or someone returning to exercise, starting small can make all the difference. Setting manageable goals, such as a short daily walk or a few minutes of stretching, can help build your self-esteem. According to Eisner, these small accomplishments allow you to establish trust with yourself and make failure impossible. Remember that it's not about how grand your goals are; it's about taking that first step and progressing at your own pace. By doing so, you'll remove the stress and find more joy in your fitness journey.


6. Harness the Feeling of Pride

Feeling proud of your exercise achievements can be a powerful motivator. It's a natural and healthy aspect of your fitness journey that serves to fuel your motivation. Achieving milestones, whether big or small, should be celebrated. This isn't about flaunting your progress to others but rather acknowledging the personal triumphs in your fitness routine. That sense of pride can act as a positive reinforcement, encouraging you to keep pushing your limits. It's like the satisfied smile of a toddler learning to walk, a small but significant victory. So, don't underestimate the role of pride in your workouts; it's a genuine and healthy driver of motivation.


7. Treat Yourself

Incorporating rewards into your workout routine is a clever way to associate exercise with positive feelings. You can think of it as a 'carrot on a stick' approach, but in a fun and constructive way. By setting up a reward system, you give yourself an extra incentive to complete your workout. It could be something as simple as treating yourself to a delicious breakfast or a warm cup of coffee after your session. By creating this connection between exercise and immediate rewards, you stimulate dopamine in your brain, the 'feel-good' chemical. Over time, this can transform your workout from a chore into a joyful and satisfying experience.


8. Get Outside

Exercising in natural environments provides a myriad of benefits for your mental and physical well-being. Nature has a unique way of calming and revitalizing the human spirit. When you step outside and engage in physical activities, you connect with the world around you. The sights of trees and the open sky, the sounds of birds chirping, and the fresh air all contribute to a sense of serenity. Breathing in the natural chemicals found in green settings can strengthen your immune system and elevate your mood. It's like hitting the 'reset' button for your mind and body. Additionally, soaking in sunlight, rich in vitamin D, acts as a natural mood booster. Getting outside is more than just a workout; it's an opportunity to de-stress, rejuvenate, and reconnect with the world.


Read more: Science-backed Benefits of Exercising Outdoors


Finding Your "Why"

Every successful workout journey begins with a "why". Finding a meaningful reason that resonates with you is crucial. It could be the desire to improve your overall health, boost your self-esteem, or reduce stress.

Your "why" is your source of motivation, reminding you why those sweat sessions are worth it. It's not just about the physical changes; it's about how it makes you feel—stronger, healthier, happier. Take a moment to reflect on your personal motivations and remind yourself of them regularly. Your "why" will be your guiding light, especially on days when motivation is in short supply.

Motivated woman getting in position to sprint run

Use It For Stress Relief

Exercise isn't just about building muscles or losing weight - it's a potent stress-reliever. When you shift your focus from the workout itself to the relaxation and mood-boosting aspects, you'll start enjoying it more.

Regular exercise releases endorphins, which act as natural mood lifters and stress reducers. It's an opportunity to escape daily pressures, clear your mind, and recharge. Viewing your workout as a stress-busting activity can make it more enticing. The feeling of accomplishment after a workout and the sense of calm it provides can help you embrace exercise as an essential part of your well-being.


Use Positive Affirmations

Your mind is a powerful tool when it comes to staying motivated during workouts. Positive affirmations can be your secret weapon. They combat the negative self-talk and self-doubt that can sabotage your motivation. Even if it feels daunting at first, practice self-encouragement during your workouts.

Tell yourself you can do it, that you're strong and capable. Over time, these affirmations become a bridge that leads you from how you think and feel now to how you want to think and feel in the future. They empower you, boost your confidence, and make your workouts more enjoyable. So, start each session with a positive mindset, and watch your enjoyment soar.


Set an Exciting Goal

To make your fitness journey exciting and engaging, consider setting both smaller and big, exciting goals. The big ones, like training for a 5K race, a marathon, or any other ambitious endeavor, are like the grand adventures of your fitness life. They give you something to look forward to and a reason to keep pushing yourself.

However, to make this work, it's essential to break these substantial goals into smaller, manageable steps. These smaller goals provide the day-to-day motivation, as they offer a sense of progress and achievement. The combination of these smaller victories and the promise of the "big why" keeps your workouts enjoyable and your fitness journey fulfilling. So, dream big, aim high, and find joy in the process.


Making exercise an enjoyable part of your life is not an unattainable goal. With the right mindset and a few simple strategies, you can transform your workouts from a dreaded chore into something you genuinely look forward to.

Remember, it's not about competing with others, it's about embracing self-compassion and focusing on your own journey. The support and camaraderie of friends can make a significant difference, so consider teaming up with a workout buddy. Discover your unique workout personality, and tailor your fitness routine to your preferences. It's vital to celebrate your strengths, no matter how small they might seem, and to appreciate every step of your fitness journey.

Reframe exercise as a reward, and find a "why" that truly resonates with you. Realize that working out isn't just about physical benefits—it's an incredible stress-reliever that can boost your mood and improve your overall well-being. Incorporating positive affirmations into your workouts and setting exciting goals will fuel your motivation.

The road to enjoying your workouts may have its twists and turns, but remember that consistency is key. As you apply these tips and make exercise a positive, rewarding part of your life, you'll discover that staying fit can be a source of joy and well-being. So, lace up those sneakers and start enjoying your workouts today! Your body and mind will thank you.