Exercise is boring

 As an exercise junkie, I’ve often wondered why people don’t have the same passion.  The reality is that for many people, exercise is associated with pain and boredom.

How many times have you seen and heard the phrase “no pain no gain”? How about “Pain is weakness leaving the body”?  I saw a tag line on a friend’s e-mail that said “You can be sore tomorrow or sorry tomorrow”.

Each one of these indicates torture to the non-exerciser.  If you’d rather avoid torture, here’s the best advice I can provide.

Do something that you enjoy.

That’s right, it’s that easy. Exercise doesn’t have to be limited to plodding endless miles on a treadmill (yuck!). Find something that makes you feel alive.  Something that gives you a goal to work toward and offers a sense of accomplishment. Something that you can immerse yourself in and make part of your life.

Here’s a list of the things I can think of off the top of my head that I’ve done this year that I would consider exercise:

  • Paddled a kayak through the Dells of the Fox
  • Ran multiple 5k’s outdoors
  • Went geocaching with my kids
  • Rode my mountain bike in the Iceman Cometh Challenge with my family cheering at the finish line
  • Rode 100 miles (twice) on my road bike…before lunch
  • Paddled a canoe on the Du Page River in the middle of winter
  • Summitted 14,255′ Longs Peak with my daughters
  • Spent 8 hours adventure racing through the Michigan woods
  • Ran the Warrior Dash on Father’s Day with friends and family
  • Rowed 1.3 million meters on the Concept 2 rowing machine
  • Played golf with Sara
  • Set multiple personal records in the deadlift
  • Swam whitewater rapids (on purpose) to practice swiftwater rescue
  • Completed the TRX 40/40 Challenge
  • A couple of times, for a little variety, I even ran on the treadmill. 
Sunrise over Twin Sisters Peaks
Sunrise over Twin Sisters Peaks

Aside from the actual exercise part of each of these activites, I experienced moments I’ll never forget. 

I stood 6 feet from a herd of deer while riding my mountain bike, neither of us wanting to give up the trail. I watched the sunrise from 11,000 feet above sea level. I got caught in wicked thunderstorms and sleet storms. I witnessed the absolute silence of the winter woods after a big snowfall.  I watched coyotes, eagles, and hawks when they didn’t realize anyone was watching.  I waded through waist deep water fully clothed at one time and waist deep snow at another. I listened to the laughter of children and the look of amazement as they accomplished goals they never imagined.  I felt the pride of accomplishment in reaching my own goals.     

Each one of these experiences helped me be a better person, a better father, added years to my life, put a smile on my face and the faces of others around me, and yes, each was a form of exercise. 

None of these required any special skills that anyone else couldn’t obtain.  Just a level of commitment and creativity that many aren’t willing to pursue.  I’m just an ordinary guy who doesn’t want to live an ordinary life.

Each was exercise. None of them were boring or torturous. Every time I went to the fitness center I was there with a purpose in mind.  I knew that every squat was going to help me on the mountain bike or make it easier to haul a 55 lb. backpack up a mountain. Every rep had a purpose.

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Think outside the box and find what you enjoy.  And do it, often!

4 Replies to “Exercise is boring”

  1. For a lot of people, myself included, physical movement does not “make me feel alive”.

    I was a varsity swimmer in high school. A swimmer, lifeguard, and cyclist (too poor to own a car) in college. After college, I took up running, then yoga. As a kid I used to roller skate and ride my Big-Wheel.

    And it all made me feel DEAD. Moving around is depleting, exhausting and draining. It made me depressed. I would break down in tears during workouts. I needed a nap right after any session. And even after becoming relatively fit, a workout never “felt good”. I was lucky if I didn’t fall asleep in the carried home, my energy was completely gone.

    I’m not saying all this to be difficult or negative. I wish it did feel good for me.

  2. Hi Robin:

    Sorry to hear that exercise didn’t leave you with the same feeling. It’s hard to say what might have contributed to that feeling for you and from your message I don’t know if it was physical or mental exhaustion. Here’s what I would think about:

    1. Did you enjoy the activity your were performing or dreading it while you were doing it? Did you swim because someone said you needed to swim? Same for the biking? (The Big Wheel on the other hand…I wish they made a Big Wheel for adults.).
    2. Were you doing those things too often and not giving yourself a break?
    3. Were you eating anything before, during, or after?
    4. Did you have friends to participate in those activites together?

    Just a fw suggestions and I hope that you can find what fires you up and makes you feel alive!


  3. I had to exercise for my health. It didn’t matter what I picked, so I did swimming.
    Practice was boring, I never lost weight and at my best wasn’t even “mediocre”.
    I’ve always sucked at movement! I’m so clumsy, always mixing up my right & left, with no sense of my body in space. Exercise takes so much forced concentration and focus!
    I don’t have friends to exercise with. I bump into people too easily And after awhile they stop showing.

    Even now, I’m told exercise is something I have to do.
    No matter how I tell my experience, the line is “you still have to do it!”.

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