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‘I hate this!’ Readers sound off about exercise

Many readers wrote in to share the tricks they’ve discovered to make themselves stick with an exercise regime. Some expressed frustration because they’re having a hard time finding just the right activity. And some simply wrote in to ask for help.
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“I hate, hate, hate it!”

That’s how 32 percent of you responded in our survey about exercise. In fact, the “I hate, hate, hate it!” response was the far-and-away survey winner, considering that 24 percent of readers who participated said they merely “tolerate” exercise, 25 percent said they don’t mind it most of the time, and 19 percent described themselves as fitness fanatics.

Even though so many of you feel so strongly about this, you probably know you still need to exercise anyway, right? Maybe that’s why you took the time to read Jacqueline Stenson’s most recent Smart Fitness column, which ran with the headline, “Help! I absolutely DESPISE exercise!”

In her column, Stenson explained that it’s OK to abandon forms of exercise you hate. You just need to replace them with activities you find more enjoyable. Many of you wrote in to share the tricks you’ve discovered to make yourself stick with an exercise regimen. Some of you expressed frustration because you’re having a hard time finding just the right activity. And some of you simply wrote in to ask for help.

“I have no idea how to be motivated. Any ideas?” writes Donna in Roseburg, Ore.

“What can I do?” implores Lee Ann in New York.

“Where do I begin?” begs Nissa of Baltimore, Md.

“I need a push!” pleads Marty in Dallas, Ore.

Read these reader responses to get the push you might need from your fellow readers, who suggested everything from yoga to belly dancing to hula hooping to walking on a treadmill in front of the TV and running errands on foot:

You’ve hit the nail on the head. I completely agree that the key to staying focused in an exercise plan is variety. Finding activities that feel more like fun than a workout will shed pounds as well as make you feel good. My exercise plan on any given week consists of running with the dog, tennis, hot yoga, pole-dancing class, belly-dancing class and the plain old elliptical machine. My cholesterol is lower, I’m in great shape and best of all I’m never bored. You just need to find something active that's also enjoyable. There are endless possibilities.
— Danielle

My house happens to be 1.5 miles from a Target department store, which seems to sell just about anything. If there is some small errand I can perform there — filling a prescription, buying light bulbs, whatever — I try to schedule an evening walk to accomplish it. Total distance walked is 3 miles. ... I break up the walk at the halfway point with a bathroom break and/or trip to the water fountain. I also carry an 8-ounce water bottle which only weighs 1 pound. After accomplishing my errand I feel good about myself because not only did I accomplish a task, but I saved gasoline, got some exercise and didn’t have to give money to a gym.
— Don, Atlanta

As a petite, thin woman of 60, I never exercised, saying that there was no reason — I didn’t need to lose weight. But as I aged, I noticed it was taking longer to get out of a chair if I'd been sitting a while — my joints were popping, I had no energy, but I still was thin! My daughter convinced me to try yoga four years ago, and I go to class every week. I can keep up with the 20-year-olds without flagging. I’m still thin, but I can flex muscles in my back that are positively CUT! I have more energy than I’ve ever had, I can sink to the floor gracefully and sit cross-legged while holding a cup and plate and rise without touching anything. I would recommend yoga to anyone of any age, especially people who have always hated the “E” word.
— Lin, Charleston, S.C.

I can’t say that I hate working out, but there are occasions when I’m completely unmotivated to hit the gym. It is during these times that I simply tell myself, “Just get there and get started and see how you feel then.” Once I’ve already started working out I feel that I have the energy to finish a good workout. The hardest part is just getting there.
— Martha, Miami

I hate exercising. For me, it’s just boring. What has helped me is to watch movies while I walk on a treadmill. I borrow them from the library or tape them from TV to keep down the cost. I’ll watch each over two to three exercise sessions. A good movie that grabs my interest helps me to get on the treadmill the next day so I can find out what happens next. Action scenes seem to stimulate me and find myself walking faster during them.
— N.H., Maryland

After turning 30 this past fall, I quickly realized that when I left my 20s my body also left the ease of weight maintenance. I have always hated gyms. I live on the middle of a hill, so no matter which way I walk, I end up going uphill more than downhill. Challenging yes, but with an 80-pound dog dragging behind, it gets unreasonable. (Who can go for a walk in the neighborhood without the dog!) I recently started swimming at the local public pool (yes, it’s indoors since it’s March in Maine!). I can't get enough of it. There is no pain, no sweating, not even any notice from anyone. If in the middle of a lap I want to be crazy, I swim around under water and be crazy. Or even hang on the lane markers to rest. It’s amazing how encouraging it is to find something that works for you.
— Vanessa, Biddeford, Maine

Not hate, but I don’t enjoy it at all. I have done water aerobics for 12 years. I say that I stick with it because I don’t sweat during it! Really I exercise ‘cause it is good for me and because of some physical problems this is what I can do.
— Jane

I loathe working out. I have never found anything I like and I have tried everything from rock climbing to swimming to the good old gym. The one time I found something I enjoyed, I got a chronic injury from it (kickboxing). What I finally did was go to Wal-Mart and get a cheap elliptical trainer ($150). I have it stationed in front of my TV. I turn on something that I TiVo’d (so I can skip the commercial down time) and move for a half hour. That is my bargain with myself — I only have to do a half hour. (By the way, that cheap-o elliptical trainer has lasted me two years and cost way less than any gym membership!)
— Beth, Kingston, Wash.

I have found that since I hate going to the gym. I can lie on the floor or on the couch while watching TV and still do stretching exercises, leg lifts and exercises for my buttocks and arms, even sit-ups — and still enjoy a good movie!!
— Sue, Athens, Texas

I find a lot of people hate certain exercises because they’re doing them wrong and actually hurting themselves in the process. For example, I used to hate running until my fiancée (a former track star) showed me the proper form that a runner is supposed to focus on. Before then I used to put too much weight over my feet and end up with sore shins, and I bounced too much, which was killing my knees. She showed me how to run upright and not bounce, and it made a 100 percent difference immediately. I don’t get shin splints anymore and the only burn I feel is in my leg muscles, where you’re supposed to feel it. I love to run now and always look forward to getting outside. It’s been about 20 months since then and I’ve lost 40 pounds, plus 4 inches off the waist.
— Tony, Cincinnati

I despise working out. I don’t know how anyone can enjoy feeling out of breath, sweaty and gross. So I’ve found I need to make exercising fun. I’ve always enjoyed hula hooping, so I made it into my exercise! I use a weighted hula hoop and challenge myself as to how long I can go! And it sure can take off the inches!
— Jennifer, Milwaukee

I absolutely HATE to exercise. It’s hot, sweaty and boring! The only thing that seems to keep me motivated is a personal trainer. Thankfully my husband and I were able to shop around and found someone that will train both of us at the same time for the same rate as an individual. This gives me the added motivation of having a workout partner as well. While somewhat expensive, it keeps me (us) going to the gym. The last thing we want to do is waste our hard-earned money!
— Suzanne, Glen Allen, Va.

One of the reasons I hate working out is that I have large thighs in comparison to my upper body. I mean LARGE. It’s not very pleasant to look at and the fat REALLY jiggles when I work out and actually hurts and itches quite a bit from all the jiggling. I’ve tried to wear tight, girdlelike exercise shorts and it helps some, but even when I lose the weight there is still a lot of excess skin that is just so darn uncomfortable. I barely make enough money to support my family, let alone consider plastic surgery to remove the excess between my legs. So it all just ends up hampering whatever I try to do.
— Karina, Burlington, N.C.

I work out on a treadmill. I hate it. There are two things that make it less painful, though: First, I put my TV/DVD in front of the treadmill so I can watch a nice movie. Second, I allow myself a free day every week, one when I DON’T have to exercise.
— Janet, Albuquerque

I have tried everything and have never felt this so-called high from working out. Even mall-walking is hard because I stop to look in windows. The best I can do is find a job where I work on my feet and move all day. (I am a registered nurse.)
— Anonymous