Can You Really Trick Yourself Into Exercising?

by Sarah Li Cain

It’s okay to loathe exercise.

Sometimes all we want to do is sleep in that extra five minutes, or even look up just one more Facebook status. It’s totally understandable.

But you vividly remember that high you felt after a sweaty workout, or that feeling like you have more energy throughout the day. You probably noticed that you slept better and woke up even before your alarm clock went off.

You’re tired of fighting your inner demons, who tell you it’s okay to sit on that couch.

So what should you do?

You can force yourself to exercise, only to rebel a few days later. Or you can ‘trick’ yourself into exercising. Don’t think of this a negative thing. Rather, view it as setting up systems in order to keep motivating you to exercise.

So what are some ways you can trick yourself into exercising?

Do Something You Like

Yes, it’s that simple. Love to play volleyball and dream of the day when you can head to the beach with your team? Make it a point to schedule in time to hit the courts. Love the Wii? There are a ton of games that integrate physical exercise. The ‘Just Dance’ series is one that immediately comes to mind.

Think about it: if you’re doing something you dread, why would you bother continuing with it? If you see that exercising can be fun, you’ll probably want to keep doing it. Remember that you should find what works best for you, not anyone else. That includes your best friend. 

Mix It Up

You might simply hate exercising because you think it’s boring. Here’s the hard truth: it’s only boring if you make it that way.  Some people tend to stick to one workout DVD day in and day out, or do the same routine at the gym day in and day out. Yuck.

Mix up your routine with different types of exercise, or different moves for similar ones. For example, if you love Zumba, why not get a few different DVDs or search for free Youtube videos? There are also many websites – such as Share it Fitness – that have over 200 workouts so you can mix and match as you please.

Prefer something on the go? Consider using the multitude of apps out there. BodBot is one such app where you can record routines you’ve already done, and the app then provides options for you to choose variations on your existing routine. Another app to consider is Fitocracy, where they turn your workout into a game, where you earn points for quests, or even challenge others users of the app.

Tell Yourself You’ll Exercise For a Short Amount of Time

The point is to make the time short, like 5 to 10 minutes. If you really want to stop after that, it’s ok. But you most likely won’t.  It usually takes about 5 to 6 minutes for the high you get from exercise to kick in.

Buy hey, at least if you don’t continue after 5 minutes, it’s better than not exercising at all.

Work Out With Someone More Fit Than You Are

A Kansas State University study found that people exercised longer and harder if they worked out with someone who was 40% more fit than they were. For some reason, this is the “sweet spot” where your partner can inspire you to work harder, but not too hard that you can’t keep up.

What’s not to love about that?

Before Exercising, Listen to Your Exercise Playlist

Sometimes all it takes is to get into the right mindset. By listening to music you normally listen to during a workout, it’ll pump you up and mentally prepare you for exercise. In fact, you’ll probably think of your next workout whether you like it or not.

Don’t listen to music while you work out? Get started in the habit of doing so.


Forcing yourself to do anything – no matter how much it will benefit you – is never a good idea. Tricking yourself into exercising is a great way to ensure that you enjoy an activity that can benefit you in the long run.

How will you ‘trick’ yourself into working out? Let us know in the comments!

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