How To Exercise If You Hate To Exercise

There are plenty of people who say they hate to exercise. Maybe you hate being in a gym, or you don’t like to lift weights. Or perhaps you’d rather sit through a 24-hour cat video marathon than go to an exercise class or get on a treadmill.

That’s just fine! You should never have to do exercise that you hate. Many people don’t have the time or the motivation to work out at the gym multiple times per week. But you know that you SHOULD exercise…

Good news — a structured exercise program is not your only option! Here are some ways to squeeze in physical activity without it feeling like “exercise”


Tapping your toes and twitching your legs. Standing up and sitting back down. Pacing laps around your office. You don’t need to get a standing desk or treadmill desk to move more at work, but there’s definite correlation between those who can’t sit still and less body fat. Did you know that fidgeting (“can’t sit still”) can account for up to 350 additional calories burned per day?

Go outside

Take the dog for a walk, or go for a hike. On a pretty day, walking around in the outdoors doesn’t feel like exercise!

Walking meetings or Standing Meetings

standing meeting

Workplace meetings don’t have to involve sitting down through the whole thing. Stand up for a 10-minute segment of a 1-hour meeting. If somebody wants to meet up with you for coffee, suggest something move active: going for a walk, tossing a frisbee, or playing golf – anything that gets you up and moving.


Dancing is a fun way to move your body, and you can burn a pile of calories without ever feeling like you’re working.

Standing desk

A standing desk is a great way to sit less at work. There are also treadmill desks, but those require a high level of dedication. For starters, get yourself an adjustable standing desk and stand up 25% of the workday.


Cleaning is a productive use of your time and effort. You can burn calories without feeling like you’re exercising, and you can do it in the privacy of your own home, on your own schedule.


Just standing up and doing a few stretches can loosen tight muscles, relieve stress, and get your blood flowing. Set a timer on your phone or your work computer to ding at you every hour so you can take a 2-minute stretching break. And stretching feels good — it doesn’t feel like exercise at all!

Join a recreational sport league

If you jump into a softball, volleyball, bowling, or kickball league, you can be more active and meet new friends too!

Finding fun activities with friends is a great way to exercise without feeling like you’re really exercising.

Park at the far end of the parking lot

Every step counts. A 45-second walk through the parking lot won’t burn a lot of calories, but it will at least get your legs moving and get you a minute out in the fresh air.

Take the stairs


Stair climbing works all your major lower-body muscles, including glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps ,and calves. You can start with 20 steps or so, and gradually increase the number you climb. Your goal can be a certain number of steps or flights each day. To make it more interesting and to boost your fitness even more, you can take the stairs two at a time, or try alternate stepping at a slow to moderate pace with brief inter­vals at a fast pace.

Make use of TV commercial time

Do some kind of stretching or calisthenics during TV commercials or between Netflix episodes.

Pace while you’re on the phone.

Make it a habit that any time you’re on the telephone, stand up. You can pace around to accumulate even more movement.

Go to a class with a friend

If you’re on the fence about trying something but have been putting it off, this is a great time to take that first step. If you’re too afraid to try something alone, get a friend to drag you there. It’s amazing what we’ll try when we’re not alone.

Expect to be lousy at your new activity. If you’re going to a dance class for the first time, you will NOT be the most graceful person in the room. If you’re coming to the gym for the first time with a friend, don’t expect to be strong or to know what you’re doing.

Be brave, and enjoy!

If you think you hate to exercise

Movement of any kind helps make you healthier. Even leisurely activities and low-intensity movement burns extra calories, loosens stiff muscles, and lifts your mood.

If you hate to exercise, take up a few of these options to get your body moving without having to “start exercising.”

And if you want some motivation and accountability, contact Basics and Beyond fitness & nutrition to get you started off on the right foot.