How to Get Excited About Exercise (So You’ll Actually Do It)

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Whether you hate the monotony of running on a treadmill, or you would rather spend your precious free time doing absolutely nothing, it can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise. New research suggests, however, that you can learn to love it. It’s all about how you approach working out.

A new study published in BMC Public Health has found that people can learn to enjoy exercise and even look forward to it simply by adjusting their perspective on it. In the study of 40 women, the participants were asked about their goals and values, as well as, their feelings and experiences with being physically active. Researchers found that whether the women exercised regularly or not they all had similar things that made them happy: connecting with others, being of service to others, participating in leisure activities and hobbies and feeling relaxed and free from daily pressures.

They also found that the women who were less physically active associated exercise with negative feelings, like dread, pressure and selfishness, as it was viewed as taking away from family time. The study’s lead author Michelle Segar, director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center, told Time, “These women feel alienated by exercise, or feel that they’ve failed when they tried it in the past. They have a very narrow definition of what exercise should look like.”

In order to erase the idea that exercise is an alternative to enjoying free time or socializing with friends, it needs to be reimagined as a method to those same things, “Women need to give themselves permission to use physical activity as a way to relax—to get together with friends or loved ones and take a leisurely stroll, simply because being active and outdoors boosts their mood and makes them feel good.”

Exercise doesn’t need to be a solitary, tedious activity. Any physical activity is better than none. Segar says, “Play tag with your kids, take a dance class or even just climb the stairs a few extra times while you’re doing chores around the house.”

What creative ways do you use to make exercise fun? Share in the comments below.