How to make exercise more enjoyable

by | Jun 24, 2024 | Exercise, Fitness & Rehab | 0 comments

Some people just don’t like to exercise. And that means that fitness nuts like me, to whom the benefits of exercise are self-evident, go even more bonkers when we try to inspire others to get up off the couch and get a bigger dose of movement into their lives. We just don’t understand why exercise seems like an unrewarding chore to so many.

In the hope of learning more about this issue, I attended a presentation by a sports psychologist at the Yale University Conference on Embodied Cognition in April. She shared her research about strategies to motivate people to exercise if they’re not in the habit.

I was familiar with some of her ideas: Listen to inspiring music when you exercise. Work out with an exercise buddy. Set goals.

But she shared one strategy that was novel to me. And I want to share it with you.

Do the hard part first

You should structure each exercise session so that the hard work comes first, and then it gets easier. It’s the exact opposite of the way most training is organized.

To apply the principle to weight training, you’d perform one set of repetitions at (say) 80% of your hypothetical maximum weight, followed by a set at 65% of your max, and then finish up at 50%. Most weight training programs do the exact opposite – they start light and work up to heavy.

You can also apply the same principle to cardio training. If, for instance, you plan to run 3 miles, run your first mile most rapidly, then ease off and go slower at the end.

People who use this strategy say they enjoy exercise more. That means you’ll be more motivated. And soon you can join the ranks of those who truly enjoy a good workout.

Try it out!

Dr. Lavine has been an innovator in the use of movement and touch to promote health since 1981. He practices in New York City and Princeton, NJ.

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