From Pain to Pleasure – How to get exercise to feel easier

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As he finished a challenging indoor cycling class, I asked Bob, “That was a tough class. It hurt so good, didn’t it?” Bob gave me a “get away from me, weirdo” look.

Compare this response with one I received from Sarah as she finished the same class. “Sarah, how did it go?” “Andy, the pain was exquisite.”

Quite a difference in response. Getting into great shape involves a lot of work and a little discomfort. This fact, unfortunately, cannot be bypassed. As the intensity of any exercise increases, there is the inevitable moment when the discomfort becomes great enough to take over your awareness. In this moment your mind will go in one of three directions: toward quitting, getting through it, or getting into it.

Do you quit, get through it or get into it? Can you take it up a notch? You bet. Here are a few ways to get you “in the zone,” or at least a little closer to it.

Music: Research has shown, especially in beginners, that up beat music increases your motivational muscle.
Caffeine: Caffeine is on the banned list for Olympic athletes for good reason. It has been shown to increase your endurance, mental awareness, optimism, and most importantly, your time to exhaustion. Just don’t go crazy and get caught with 1500mg caffeine suppositories like some French professional cyclists. (A typical strong, large cup of coffee is only about 240mg of caffeine. WOW.)
Proper Warm-Up: If you start exercising too hard too early, your body will rebel with excess lactic acid and other nasties. A gradual warm-up, say 5-10 minutes, will make the rest of your exercise time feel easier. Oh yeah, it will also reduce risk of injury, post workout muscle soreness, …
Food: Eating 2-3 hours before exercise will “top off” your muscle’s carbohydrate stores = longer time to exhaustion.

These are just a few ideas that are research proven and Andy Core tested. I know these ideas work, but what do you do? What do you do that helps you stick it out?



Andy Core is a credentialed, award-winning thought leader on increasing employee engagement, productivity, and wellness motivation. His talent lies in helping hard-working, conscientious adults thrive at work and in their personal lives.

Andy also wrote the book Change Your Day, Not Your Life, a guide to sustained motivation and more productivity.

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Change Your Day, Not Your Life
A realistic guide to sustained motivation, more productivity, and the art of working well
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About Andy Core
Author and speaker on work-life balance, productivity and wellbeing
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