Already dreading that early morning boot camp? Are your 30 minutes on the elliptical starting to feel like 30 years? Not getting that post-workout high everyone keeps talking about?

Exercise has tons of benefits. It’s been shown to help relieve stress and anxiety. It gives you time for a mental break, a moment to focus solely on yourself. It can help you feel strong, powerful and confident. And regular movement is associated with a host of health benefits, like strengthening bones and reducing the risk of or managing chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Why You Shouldn't Do Exercise You Hate

But all those benefits go away if you’re forcing yourself to do exercise you hate.

For starters, it’s hard to be consistent with something you’re not enjoying. If you’re burning out on exercise then doing nothing at all for weeks or months, what benefits are you really getting?

Exercise can relieve stress, but it can also cause it, especially if you’re doing an exercise you hate. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is always released during exercise, especially cardio exercise. This temporary spike in cortisol is actually beneficial, but if you’re already going into exercise with high cortisol levels from stress (from, oh I don’t know, getting jarred awake by your alarm at 5:30 AM to make a class), then you won’t get this benefit.

Many people force themselves to do vigorous workouts to lose weight, but this has actually been shown to backfire. Studies have shown people who exercise with a goal of weight loss often gain weight. This may be due to eating more as a reward for working out.

Sometimes people don’t enjoy their workout just because they’ve been overdoing it and need a break. If you’ve been getting less enjoyment out of an activity you used to love, it may be a sign you need a break. Skipping rest days is not only damaging to your body, but it can ruin a type of joyful exercise for you!

Trying to find an exercise, or movement as I like to call it, that you love? Consider the following:

  • Do you like to workout alone or with others? Classes can be great for those who like the social aspect, while others need “me” time to be alone.
  • What type of environment do you enjoy? Some people love the gym, while others feel intimidated. Some love the fresh air that comes with a run around the neighborhood or local park, while others like the trendy atomosphere of a boutique fitness studio.
  • What kinds of activity did you love as a child? Were you into team sports? Did you love dance class? See if there is a way to incorporate this as an adult.
  • What new activities have you been itching to try? Don’t be afraid to try something new! It may be uncomfortable and scary at first, but everyone is a newbie at some point.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box! Health benefits aren’t only found in the gym. Consider a recreational sports team, throw a dance party in your living room, go for a hike, or find a pool to swim in.

What are your favorite ways to move your body? Share in the comments!

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