9 Tips for When You Don't Want To Exercise

Patient Expert
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Exercise is important when you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA can rob you of what helps you get through your day: mobility, strength, balance, endurance, sleep, and well-being. With help from your doctor and physical therapist, you can learn to stem, and even arrest some of this thievery. Here are some tips to get you moving when you don't want to, but know you need to do so.

Stop thinking and just do

The more you think about doing exercise, the more likely it is you will think yourself out of going. You'll find any number of reasons to talk yourself out of it, including being tired, cold, or lacking enthusiasm. Stop the thinking and just get going to the pool, gym, outdoors or wherever you get moving. You'll feel better for it.


Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.” (Henry Ford). What you say to and about yourself, and how you say it can make a big difference in how you do. Choose positive, uplifting verbs to activate your volition switch to get you moving. Neurons are ready to fire – choose your words well. Swim! Dance! Walk!

Decisions and preparations

Make it easy for yourself—make the decision to exercise the night before. You might also like to arrange to meet with a friend—it may be harder to break the commitment with him/her than it is with yourself. Get your gear together so you’re ready to go the next day. Since you're prepared, you don't have to spend precious time thinking yourself out of going.

Short and sweet

If you’re feeling lazy or tired, or even sore, make a deal with yourself. Agree to do a shorter version of your workout. Once you get going, it's likely your joints will loosen up and your body will respond positively to being active. You might even find yourself doing the full workout!

Add spice with variety

Vary the intensity of your workout. It’s amazing what you notice when you slow down, both around you and also about yourself. It's a perfect opportunity to be grateful for your marvelous body. (Yes, even if it's not working perfectly!) Mix it up – try a new location, class, route, activity. It keeps you interested, and that keeps you moving.

No gym, no problem

Turn everyday activities like housework, yard work, shopping, and going to work into a fitness opportunity.  If you're watching television, use the commercial break to work on an aspect of fitness, such as balance or strength. If you're driving for groceries, park as far away as you can – you'll get even more steps in when you have to bring back your shopping cart.

Change your outfit

Have you ever noticed how you get a lift when putting on a new outfit that complements you? The same goes for your exercise gear. Maybe it's time to look for a more flattering swimsuit, or to substitute that over-sized t-shirt for one that better fits the new body you're creating? Sometimes something new can be just the thing to keep you motivated.

Remember how it makes you feel

Pay close attention to how you feel after you exercise. How has your mood changed - are you less angry, anxious, frustrated, worried? Are you more mobile, and do you have fewer aches and pains? Is there a smile on your face? Keep this in mind, or better yet, write it down, so you can use this to help you get moving the next time.

Begin now

Set your intention to begin now, not tomorrow, nor next week. Start small and build up – your body will thank you. Go for a walk after dinner. Watch television while sitting on a stability ball to improve your balance. Take a dance break. There are so many options available to get you moving. Try them out until you find something you like.