Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but many of us have trouble finding the motivation to work out
Establishing an exercise routine is a great way to improve your health and feel more energetic. Exercise can help boost your self-esteem, prevent diseases like heart disease, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your sleep, and reduce stress.
However, it can be challenging to stay motivated to work out because exercising requires time and energy that you may not have after a long day at work or caring for kids.
However, you don’t have to run for an hour every day or lift weights for 30 minutes in order to benefit from exercise. Exercise comes in many different forms – walking around the neighborhood with friends and family is a simple way to get some fresh air while getting some physical activity.
If you’re looking for ways to motivate yourself to start exercising or get back into working out regularly, try these tips:
Start with a simple try-it-to-believe-it approach
If you’re starting from scratch, consider taking a try-it-to-believe-it approach. Begin by doing a few minutes of exercise every day. The goal is not to get shredded, but rather to commit to a regular exercise routine—even if it’s short, and even if it’s just walking at first.
As you build momentum and consistency, gradually increase your time spent exercising. A good target is 30 minutes per day most days of the week; however, even that can be daunting if you don’t already have an exercise habit in place. Maybe try 10 minutes for two weeks and then 15 minutes for the next two weeks before aiming for 20 minutes on the third week and so on. You’ll eventually get there!
It is not necessary to run a marathon to reap the benefits
For most of us, the idea that exercise improves our bodies is a no-brainer. But what we think of when we think “exercise” is probably pretty narrow. For example, you might have a friend who ran the City Marathon once and then went back to being sedentary the rest of the time. Or you might know someone who hit their goal weight after hard-core daily workouts at CrossFit, but then stopped exercising altogether once they reached their goal weight.
This is why it’s important to realize that exercise isn’t about working out until you drop and then going back to your couch potato ways — it’s about changing your behavior permanently. Unfortunately, that can be a lot harder than it sounds.
Work out in bursts
A lack of time is a classic exercise excuse. To counteract this, you can of course set aside an hour for a workout of the day, but working out in bursts is another great way to squeeze more fitness into your day.
Studies suggest that intermittent sprints outperform longer cardio sessions when it comes to burning fat and building muscle. Short workouts are also more focused, and less likely to be cut short—it’s hard to get distracted when you have only five minutes left in the gym.
Have a friend and make it a social endeavor
Sometimes, just knowing that there’s another person depending on you is motivation enough. Try making a social event out of your exercise routine. Go to the gym with a friend, play tennis or basketball, and take up a martial art. Maybe you don’t want to spend your time exercising with others, but if you find that it works best for you, then go for it!
Here are some other ways to really maximize your motivation levels and make sure that they stick:
- Make a list of all the benefits of exercising and put it somewhere where you’ll see and read it often.
- Make exercise fun by creating challenges like who can squat lower? Or who can do more push-ups in one minute?
- Start with a small goal – this way, when you hit your goal, you will be encouraged to set another one.
Make it as easy as possible
When you wake up and think about exercising, the idea should immediately seem easy. If you have to stop and think about what time workouts are held at your gym, or whether you have to go somewhere else to exercise, that’s too many steps. The less thinking you have to do before lacing up your sneakers, the more likely it is that you’ll just start moving.
One way of simplifying your exercise routine so it requires as little brainpower as possible is workout videos and apps. This can be great for people who don’t want to spend money on a monthly gym membership or who want to work out at home but aren’t sure how to get started. There are tons of different options available online and they make it as easy as possible by telling you exactly what exercises to do every day (and even how long each set should take).
Working out with a partner or in a group class also makes things easier because people usually feel more motivated if they know someone will be waiting for them if they don’t show up. Plus, having someone else there gives them accountability—no one wants their workout buddy asking why they missed last week!
If other options do not succeed consider working out at home or early in the morning at the gym so that you don’t waste your energy fighting traffic and crowds only to get home too tired to work out.
Make it enjoyable by engaging in things that you enjoy
When you’ve found an exercise, you truly enjoy, you’ll be more motivated to stick with it and make it a regular part of your life. If there’s something about it that doesn’t feel right, don’t give up on exercise altogether. Just find something else! There are so many different types of workouts to explore, from dance classes and group fitness activities to solo pursuits like yoga and running.
When all else fails, just set a date, time, and place and stick to it
- If nothing else works, make yourself go to the gym. It doesn’t have to be something you enjoy.
- Use an appointment book or calendar and just set a date, time and place and stick to it. Go directly from work or school right to the gym.
- Be sure that you bring everything you need: shoes, shorts, a T-shirt, socks and any special equipment for your exercise of choice.
- If this all sounds like torture, think about exercising with a friend who will be waiting for you at the gym or park. You probably won’t want to disappoint him/her by not showing up.
Not exercising is much worse than going through some temporary pain or discomfort during exercise
Exercise is not just physical. It’s also mental. You can train your brain to think differently about exercise. Practice it as you would a new skill, like learning to play the piano or ride a bike.
Exercise may be uncomfortable at first, but your body adapts and eventually gets used to it. That’s why it’s critical to constantly push yourself beyond your limits.
Remember that not exercising is much worse than going through some temporary pain or discomfort during exercise. There are countless studies on how dangerous sitting all day is for your health, and exercise can prevent many of these problems from happening in the first place!
If you are interested in more motivation and fitness-related articles, read our blog.