How To Enjoy Exercise Part 2:

Do What You Like

There is a lot being written about the benefits of exercise for everyone, and for people with ADHD in particular. But how can we get ourselves to do it?

ADHD, Boredom, and Exercise

In order for us to exercise regularly, we need to want to do it. If we think we are going to be bored, that will kill our motivation. Did you know that pain is preferable to boredom for some ADHDers? It is a good thing that there are several ways to reduce boredom and make getting started each time easier.

Dr. William Dobson noticed in his practice that tasks can be easier for his clients to do if they can:

Using ICNU interventions might be a good way to figure out how to get yourself to exercise fairly regularly. Let’s review them one at a time:


The activity itself can be inherently interesting, or you can try to modify an uninteresting activity so that it becomes interesting. You might do this by trying an activity you have never done before like tap dancing or racquetball or frisbee golf. You can consider doing one that you remember as being a lot of fun to see if you still enjoy it like just bicycling around town

You could try activities that align with your present interests, like getting together with others to discuss art, science or music. Increasing interest in activities that are inherently boring to you may take some very creative out-of-the-box thinking. (Lucky for us, we are good at that!)


Making little goals or challenges may help. The challenges should be attainable. Experiment with creating easily reachable goals that are connected to habits you already have to increase your chances of remembering to do the physical activity. This is called “habit stacking.” 

For example,  Julie Saad (of Julie Saad Wellness), combined her attainable goal of stepping outside each morning with her habit of having a morning coffee to eventually reach her long term goal of walking every morning. 

Having little goals works because each time you reach your goal, you get a little burst of that wonderful feeling that comes with achieving something. That good feeling keeps motivation high as you look forward to your next success. 

Red throwing dart in yellow bullseye at center of 9 black/white target circles on a blue background

Red dart on bullseye of black/white target

Over time I have seen the wisdom of my aiming for a goal that is hard to reach but measuring my success against a more attainable one. 

I liken this to an archer shooting at a target. She knows that she must aim high in order to hit the target instead of the ground, aware that gravity will drag the arrow down as it flies. 

An example of that is when I wanted to increase my daily physical activity. My true target was to do some kind of physical activity on most days. I have met this goal by aiming for sixty minutes every day.


Many of us love new experiences, and we can use that to make it easier to exercise.

One idea is to start an activity that is totally new to you. When we do that it is easier to maintain interest as we improve quickly while getting the satisfaction of learning something new. 

Another idea is to do what you are already doing, but in a new place or with new partners. You can also change up your goals, try new techniques, or even just what you wear. 

You might be surprised at how little it takes to change an activity enough that it becomes interesting again. 


I am not going to say much about this because most of us have grossly overused this technique over the years. A sense of urgency  can get us going, but frequently it is at a long term cost to our health. 

When we use urgency we can create the type of stress in our body that releases large amounts of cortisol into our system. While not bad in small or infrequent doses, there are many negative health consequences to chronically having large amounts of cortisol. But it can work well. 

For instance, consider the increase in motivation that often comes by committing to a future race or event.  (Bonus increase in interest if a friend does it with you!)

Women in white gi with blackbelt performing karate kata on blue background

Women in white gi with blackbelt doing kata

Physical Activity Can Mean Many Things

I use the term “physical activity" interchangeably with “exercise”, because it encompasses more activities, which should make it easier to find something that you like to do. 

Some disciplines have different forms or styles to learn, providing more options for variety. Some examples include; yoga, karate, t'ai chi, dancing, group exercise and weight training. A lot of people like the variety of exercises and social support they get from Crossfit gyms. 

And don’t forget the low investment choices like playing frisbee, catch, tag, and jump rope!

Updating Your Strategies

Whether you’ve upped the interest, challenged yourself, increased novelty or created a sense of urgency, at some point it will not work anymore. We will lose interest, overcome a challenge, lose the novelty, or urgency will no longer be relevant. 

This means that there is no once and for all solution. We will always be trying new ways to engage our brain in our goal of getting healthy amounts of physical activity.

And that’s okay, because we will get creative again and come up with new ideas. Knowing that these strategies are moving targets may help you to accept the inevitable “failure” of strategies that were working well, and cheerfully put new ones in their place.  🐙