How I Learned To Love Exercise (and How You Can Too)

When I was younger, I was an athlete. I did everything from soccer to ice skating to softball and gymnastics. I lived a really active lifestyle and loved to play outside, and then one day it wasn't so fun.

At Pepperdine (well, in 2004 at least), we were required to take a PE class as part of our general education requirements. I loved it while we were learning about the body and nutrition, but it took a turn for the worst when I discovered that in order to pass the class, we would have to run for 45 minutes and swim for 30. What??

That semester, in that class, was the first time in my life when I felt out of shape. I could barely jog for 15 minutes, let alone 45. And swimming—don't even get me started on that. Like the overachiever I am and always have been, I dutifully trained so that I'd get an A in the class. But I didn't like it one bit.

Why is it that exercise loses it's fun when we grow up? Is it possible to enjoy it again and even find time for it once we become real adults with real life responsibilities and time commitments? Those are the questions I've asked myself over the years, and I'm glad to say that I finally have hit my groove and like to work out the way I did when I was a kid. Here are some of the things that helped me learn to love regular exercise—I hope you'll give them a try!

Pick a time.
Are you a morning person or a night person (or even a noontime person)? Over the next few days, take some time to observe when you feel the most physically energetic. You may be a morning person because you like to read and sip coffee, but find that nighttime is a better workout time for you—giving you the chance to stretch your legs after a long day of work. Since I hate the heat and the sun (I know, who am I?), I always plan to exercise before work. In addition to cooler weather and cloudy California morning skies, I also enjoy the post-workout high, which fuels me for the work day.

Schedule it.
Once you know the general time of day you're aiming for, put exercise on your calendar. Maybe it's just once a week to start, or maybe it's every weekday. I've found that by planning to exercise between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., I enjoy the freedom that comes with having it planned. There is never any guilt associated with my workouts, because I know I've "budgeted" my time to fit it in.

Find your sport.
The question here is, how do you like to move? Are you a runner? A hiker? A power walker? A swimmer? A yogi? A gym-goer? If you're unsure, give several different kinds of workouts a try and see what feels like fun. Alternatively, you can also choose a sport based on convenience—after all, that's one of the reasons I decided to start running! You'll be much more likely to stick with a workout if it's easy for you to do.

Get the gear.
Nothing creates exercise eagerness quite like awesome workout gear. I'm not just talking about a good pair of shoes—which is obviously an essential, unless yoga is your thing—I'm also talking about clothes that make you feel like a superhero. Personally, everything I work out in is from Lululemon or Target, and all of my workout clothes make me feel like I could go run a marathon. That's what you're looking for! These are may all-time fitness gear favorites:

Make a playlist.
Music goes a long way when it comes to creating a fun workout environment. Spend some time perusing iTunes for the kind of music that inspires you to move. Not sure where to start? Here are some of my current favorite workout tunes:

What don't you like about exercise? Do any of these tips inspire you to learn to love exercise?

P.S. Good news: I read an article yesterday claiming that intensive exercise for two minutes is as good for your heart as a 90 minute run! Read more here.

Photo Credit: Keeping Fit by John & Tina Reid, via Flickr

Natalie is a lover of the written word, avocados, beach picnics and champagne. She lives in San Diego with her hilarious and charming husband Brian and scruffy puppy Maggie, and is a Managing Editor for Darling Magazine. In all she does, she strives to inspire and empower women to live healthy, confident lives of true beauty. See more of her work at, and find her blogging at