Hate Exercise? The Key Is Making It Purposeful

By Vickie | Get Moving

Jun 24
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I hate exercise, I really do. Always have, always will.

The idea of going to the gym, pounding away on the treadmill or stationary bike, doing exercises at home and getting all puffed out, I really hate it. It’s uncomfortable, boring and just unpleasant.


Living free of depressive symptoms means doing some kind of regular exercise, or as I like to think of it, regular physical movement. Moving your body often sounds much more doable to me.

Apart from all the wonderful things regular movement will do for your depression, it simply cannot be denied that regular movement has abundant benefits for your physical health generally.

We all really should be moving more, whether we’re experiencing low mood or feeling pretty good.

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Running away from large beasts probably gave our ancestors quite enough exercise!

So, how to incorporate more physical movement into your day without driving yourself mad?

Thousands of years ago we lived as hunter-gatherers. No hunter-gatherer would ever workout or choose to do exercise.

No, because their lifestyle is very active. It would be foolish to throw in an hour at the gym after you’ve already walked 11 kilometres tracking a large animal for dinner, butchering it and dragging the pieces back to camp for the others.

Dr Steven Ilardi (The Depression Cure) suggests that one reason why we sometimes find going to the gym so boring and so hard to get motivated is because there is no obvious purpose to it. No purpose other than keeping fit, that is.

We look at the exercise bike and something inside us says, ‘What a waste of time…I mean, you’re not going anywhere!’ (Ilardi, S, TedTalk).

If you can motivate yourself to go to the gym, go for a swim, go for a jog, great! But so many of us find that motivation hard because it seems like an hour or more out of our day without a direct or immediate result (unlike the effort expended in bringing home dinner).

The trick is to get more purposeful activity into your regular daily routine.

6 Strategies For Getting More Purposeful Movement Into Your Day:

  1. Leave the car at home as often as you can. Walk to the train station or bus stop instead of driving. Shop locally. Walk the kids to school. Get to know your local facilities instead of driving further afield; use the local doctor, dentist, hairdresser, library, fruit shop. Carry your shopping home.
  2. If you must drive, park further from your destination.
  3. An oldie but a goodie, take stairs instead of the elevator wherever possible.
  4. Get up and move about regularly throughout your day. Don’t sit for longer than 20 minutes if possible.
  5. Offer to take your elderly neighbour’s dog for a walk now and then.
  6. Get off the bus or train a station earlier and walk the rest of the way.

There’s plenty of physical activity you can do without leaving your house as well.

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Put the music on and get moving!

  1. Be vigorous with the vacuum cleaner!
  2. Dance with the duster!
  3. Waltz with the mop or boogie with the broom!
  4. Do calf rises while you’re washing up (up and down on your tippy toes).
  5. Do squats while you’re brushing your teeth.
  6. Raking up leaves and other yard work is fabulous exercise. Offer to mow your neighbour’s nature strip or grass, especially if they are frail or elderly.
  7. Take 5 or 10 minutes through your day to go through a series of stretches.
  8. Use canned foods to do arm curls to build your arm muscles.
  9. Do something with your garden. Plan a delightful outdoor space and select appropriate plants, perhaps a water feature and a place to sit. Build it!
  10. Learn how to plant veggies or fruits; fun and very rewarding.
  11. Wash the car and vacuum the inside.
  12. Clear out your garage.

Getting out into the world, out of your head and back into your body, experiencing new things, learning new skills…this will give you physical activity, a sense of pleasure and purpose, a chance to meet new people and expand your social network. These new experiences are what life without chronic low mood is all about!

  1. Join an active group or class. Dance classes are fun, social and you can learn about a new culture if you choose something like Greek circle dancing, Spanish flamenco or Indian dan
  2. Join a walking group which heads into beautiful natural environments once or twice a month
  3. Join an environmental group taking care of your local park, river or reserve.
  4. Go camping or hiking, canoeing or horse-riding.
  5. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time or chance; horse riding, rock climbing, tennis, golf or archery, ballet or gymnastics! It’s never too late!
  6. Go on a farm holiday with the kids…lots of great new activities like feeding the chickens, moving the animals, milking cows and other fun tasks to get you moving.
  7. Some animal shelters will take volunteers to walk the dogs, clean their kennels and feed.

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About the Author

If you'd asked her 15 years ago if she believed life could be a wonderful as it is today, Vickie would have answered, 'I just don't know, but it doesn't seem likely.' Now she knows that if she can turn her life around, it's possible for you too. Ask Vickie how she can help you design the life you'd really love to live and say goodbye to depression forever.

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