Everything is an exercise. The obstacle is the path.
Obviously physical exercise has benefits. For many, it’s not particularly enjoyable at first, but that’s what it’s all about. Breaking down muscle fibers and developing habits is not intrinsically fun.
I think tasks outside of physical exercise can be thought of similarly. Waking up early, for example, gets easier as you do it more. It enforces self-discipline. Doing hard things can be a discipline workout, regardless of how important the actual task is.
Let’s say you don’t like to speak in front of large crowds, but see an opening to give a talk at a small local meet up. You might have a good topic in mind, but nothing bad would happen if you passed up the opening. Viewing this as an exercise that will stretch your communication skills and self discipline gives this somewhat arbitrary decision new light. Doing this today will make you more comfortable in front of people, and will help when you find yourself on larger stages.
An arbitrary task can hold new weight when you consider how it could make you a better person down the road. Discipline has to be a sum of small decisions, and even if something doesn’t seem important, there is always the opportunity for exercise.