A Simple Solution to Exercise Boredom — It’s Not What You Think!
Written By: John Sifferman, NSCA-CPT
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I hate exercise. I try jogging on the treadmill, the elliptical, cycling and other things. But, I just can never go for more than 15 min. because I get SOOO bored! I’ve read the tips on the website, like go fast then slow (etc.) and I have a playlist to listen to. None of that works. I’ve gotten to a point where I just don’t EVER exercise because I can’t find a way to do it without getting bored out of my mind! What I can do to start enjoying exercise?
-Heidi from Logan, UT
I can definitely relate to Heidi, and I’ve heard very similar comments many times before. Sadly, the conventional solution to boredom in an exercise program ignores the real problem at stake. If you can’t stand exercising – whether it’s on a stairmaster, in an aerobics class, or under the iron, then a top 10 list of ways to prevent boredom isn’t likely to help you. You see, reading a magazine, plugging in an mp3 player, or watching a TV while you plod away on a treadmill isn’t going to prevent you from being bored – at least not for long. These are quick-fix solutions to fundamental problems, and they won’t work forever.
So, what is the fundamental problem? It’s very simple really – you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re getting bored, it’s not because something is wrong with you or you’re lacking a key ingredient in your training program. You KNOW when something is boring, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And like I said, I can totally relate to indoor cardio being boring. I can’t stand using treadmills, exercise bikes, or elliptical machines (etc.). If I did that regularly, I’d lose my mind in a hurry! Honestly, they make me feel like a robot, or a hamster running for its life on a spinning wheel. No wonder people are trying to block out the experience by watching TV, reading, or listening to music! It’s not a natural physical activity, and you’re not able to truly express yourself through this type of exercise.
The solution is not to augment your training program with something special that is meant to uplift the enjoyment factor. This can be done, but like you said, it won’t last forever. You will eventually get bored again, and many people do. The solution is to find something that you love to do – something that you can’t wait to do every day. Even right now, I’m sure you could think of something that you genuinely enjoy doing. If you could, you’d be doing that activity more often, maybe even right now. Now, if you could find a physical activity that got you excited – that lifts your spirit in the same way, then you will have discovered the secret to long-term success, which is enjoying the process of seeking personal transformation – not just the results.
Now, I do recognize that there are some people who are super-disciplined and can force themselves to do things that are intuitively against their will, but for “the cause” of better health and fitness. Sheer willpower can be used to do the right thing, when necessary. However, ask yourself how much better your life would be if you didn’t have to use willpower to accomplish your goals. What if you were WILLING to do what it takes to accomplish your goals?
I’ll tell you what would happen. You would start achieving your goals, and LOVING the process.
The solution to exercise boredom is not another training strategy or media source, it’s falling in love with physical living. If you can fall in love with movement, then you’re really onto something. Some people obviously understand this – usually the ones that have an inherently physical hobby like hiking, dancing, or kettlebell sport.
There are an unlimited number of possibilities when it comes to physical activity, so there are no shortages of ideas, and nobody has an excuse not to find something they love to do. Try kayaking or snorkeling or tango or rock climbing or clubbell swinging or yoga or martial arts – try something that you will enjoy regardless of the outcome. The most important thing is that you question conventional thought, take action on your goals, and use your intuition about what is best for YOU – not what someone or something tells you are important.
The Bottom Line
If you get bored plodding away on the treadmill or in your aerobics class, then ditch it for something that truly excites you. Fall in love with the challenge of physical living, instead of chasing after the results of becoming fit. Take responsibility for your own enjoyment. One rule: It must involve vigorous movement!
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