What to do when you don’t want to exercise


Easy ways to incorporate fitness into your everyday life and make it more enjoyable

If your lack of exercise is leaving you feeling frustrated and fed up, it’s perfectly normal – and it’s not your fault.

It’s not just because you are busy or feel too exhausted to even think about it. It’s not even about lack of motivation. Simply put, we did not evolve to exercise.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t run or walk for miles for the sake of their health. They had to be physically active for hours each day to get enough food.

We know that physical activity is vital to help slow ageing and promote fitness and health. But as we are no longer engaging in physical labour as our ancestors did, it means we must now exercise to maintain our health.

That said, it’s not as simple as putting on your trainers and hoping your legs will carry you out of the front door. It takes a little re-wiring.

In fact, exercise seems to have become a source of anxiety and confusion for many of us, because even though we all know it is good for our health, we struggle to exercise enough, to work out safely, or even to find the joy in it. This is because our minds never evolved to get us moving unless it is necessary, enjoyable, or in some other way rewarding.

Here, the team behind the dance-inspired fitness platform Breaking Ballet share some easy ways to incorporate exercise into your daily life, to find the fun in fitness and to reward yourself when you achieve your goals.

Make exercise necessary

  • If you are not overweight or suffering from a medical condition, you may not see the need to move your body right now. Focus instead on exercising to future-proof your body, decreasing your risk of illnesses that tend to surface in later life.
  • Focus on your ‘why’: this could be for longevity, being able to play with your children/grandchildren, to avoid injury, or to maintain your weight as you age.
  • Find compassionate help. People saying “just do it” is not helpful. Find people who will encourage and support you through the ups and downs, whether that’s family, a personal trainer, or even a friend who you can exercise with.
  • Make it simple and achievable. Focus on short, effective workouts that you can do every day, and diarise them to track your progress.
  • Make yourself accountable. Schedule in exercise with a friend, join a group or sign up for a race so that you can feel more committed and will be responsible for showing up regularly.

How to make exercise enjoyable

  • Make it sociable. Busy people can find time to do things they enjoy, so find your tribe and have some fun.
  • Focus on how good you feel after exercising; this will help to motivate you next time around.
  • Choose exercise you enjoy, or dislike the least! There is no point choosing to run if you hate running. Instead, start with something enjoyable and stick with it.
  • Entertain yourself while working out by listening to your favourite music or podcast.

Reward yourself

  • Create exercise goals and reward yourself for your efforts. The reward should complement your goals, so if you want to tone and strengthen your body, book in for a relaxing massage rather than face planting into a tub of ice-cream.
  • Joining a group of like-minded women, who have similar health and fitness goals, helps to shape and reinforce your personal identity. We all want to conform, and the reward of being accepted into a group can help you to change your habits.

Taking these small steps to reframe the way you think about exercise is key to finding exercise a source of pleasure and health, rather than a cause of discomfort, guilt and shame.

For more inspiration, programmes and tips on how to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, visit