10 Ways to Overcome Exercise Burnout

If you used to hit the gym with complete dedication and now don't want to go at all, you probably have a case of exercise burnout. But you're not alone. Approximately 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program quit within a few months.

While daily exercise seems doable in theory, few of us can sustain that bite into our already busy schedules.  We set big goals but then are sidelined with injury when we go after them too hard.  Or, we're nowhere near meeting our over-ambitious goals (say, for instance, to lose 20 pounds in three months) and we're frustrated. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to exercise is boredom.  We just plain don't want to. Here, 10 ways to keep the thrill going.

1. Set more realistic goals. If exercising seven days per week is impossible, aim for three.  If losing twenty pounds is unrealistic, aim for five, and then re-evaluate.

2. Talk to a trainer.  If sore muscles or injuries have sidelined you, you're doing too much or working out improperly.  No wonder you're burned out. Book an appointment with a professional fitness trainer to design a program that won't hurt.

3. Try something new. If running on the treadmill feels like time on a hamster wheel, use different machines or ditch the cardio equipment and take an aerobics class.  Variety is essential to avoiding boredom and overcoming workout plateaus.

4. Make it fun.  Instead of working out for the exercise benefits, work out for the fun of it.  Make a list of activities you enjoy-dancing, skiing, swimming, and more.  Make a commitment to adding as much fun as you can to your life.  If it turns out to be exercise, that's an extra bonus.

5. Get new stuff. Buy new exercise clothes, shoes, or equipment. Download new music or buy some new workout DVDs. Whatever it takes to freshen up your fitness routine is worth it.

6. Make friends. Get a workout buddy who will keep you honest.  If you're accountable to another person with similar workout goals, you're more likely to show up, exercise, and enjoy yourself.

7. Take a break. Give yourself permission to take a workout vacation.  Just don't let it turn into a stay-cation.  Set a specific amount of time to rest, reevaluate, and recharge your batteries.  Circle the date you'll return to the gym, court, or class-and commit to showing up with a fresh attitude.

8. Go for the long haul, not the short term. Write down all the reasons you exercise.  Sure, bathing suit season is motivating but the better reasons are for long-term health, happiness, and longevity.  Put a picture of an attractive older role model (Helen Mirren?  Betty White?  Sean Connery?) next to a picture of yourself.  Look forward to the golden years by living a healthy lifestyle now.

9. Go for the short term, not the long haul. You know you feel better after you work out.  Forget about your goals.  Simply exercise for the immediate afterglow-that peaceful easy feeling you only get after a good workout.

10. Reward yourself. If you have to resort to bribery to avoid exercise burnout, go for it. Just try not to sabotage your workout goals and efforts with high-calorie treats. Instead, opt for a manicure or a cute new hat.