Exercise motivation – we all know we should exercise regularly, but only 20% of Americans do. How can you find the motivation to exercise?
Ways to find the motivation to exercise
- Focus on one or two baby steps and small changes that you can do consistently. A sure way to kill your exercise motivation is to set overly-ambitious or unrealistic fitness goals. Promising yourself that you’re going to do something every single day is not only unrealistic, but also unnecessary.
In order to start losing weight, getting in better shape, or start leading a healthier lifestyle, you’ll need to begin doing things differently than you have been. A radical, 180-degree turnaround is generally not a sustainable plan. Pick one or two small things that you can do to improve yourself, and do those consistently. Once you have made those changes “normal”, pick one or two new improvements.Little by little, you’ll change your daily habits and routines, and before you know it, you’ll be a leaner, healthier person! Motivation is easy once you start seeing results. If you bite off more that you can chew, it will kill your motivation to exercise since you’ll feel overwhelmed. You won’t be perfect, so don’t set yourself up to fail at being perfect!
- Make exercise fun. Keeping fitness fun is a fundamental key to success. You’ll never be motivated to exercise if you pick activities that you don’t enjoy. There are thousands of ways to exercise – pick something you don’t hate!
Select activities, sports, or workouts that you enjoy. Then vary your routine as time goes on. If you get bored, try something new. You can walk, cycle, hike, take dance classes, try recreational sports, or check out your local health club or martial arts center. If you keep things fun and exciting, you’ll stay motivated to exercise.
- Incorporate exercise into daily life. In today’s busy world, it can be hard to find time for exercise. You don’t have to commit a ton of time to working out. Instead, schedule two or three half-hour exercise sessions in your calendar, just like you would any other important appointment. You’ll be more motivated to exercise if you have set aside a little dedicated time.
For the record, “Whenever I can squeeze it in,” is NOT a dedicated time. Put it on your calendar, and honor your appointment. Hiring a personal trainer is a good way to ensure accountability.You can also slip in extra movement throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, stand up or march in place while you’re on the phone, park far away from the building and walk, etc. Standing up and stretching for 20 seconds every hour is a great start.
- Focus on the stress relief. There is no denying the many benefits associated with regular exercise. For some folks, exercising for stress relief is a great way to find motivation to exercise. If you’re tense and worn out after a long day at work, or if family or relationship woes are causing you stress, exercise can be a wonderful way to work off that stress.
- Find an exercise buddy. Invite friends, family members, or co-workers to join you. It never hurts to have a buddy help keep you on track. If you lose your motivation, your commitment to your exercise buddy can keep you on track. Typically your workouts will be more effective with a workout buddy or personal trainer. You won’t want to slack in front of someone else!Group fitness classes are also an excellent way to enjoy community while you work out. Exercise motivation is a lot easier when everyone in the room is trying hard!
- Use exercise as your “me time.” Exercise can provide time for reflection, and give you a peaceful retreat from the rat race. Many people get motivated to exercise because it’s the only time they have to themselves. Or it’s the only thing they do just for themselves.If you like repetitive cardiovascular exercise – like hiking, jogging, jumping rope, using the elliptical, or cycling – you may find that cardio is a great way to clear out the cobwebs, organize your thoughts, and solve problems.
- Notice the great feelings. After each exercise session, take a moment to savor the endorphins, the delicious fatigue, and the feelings of accomplishment and pride in what you’ve done for yourself. Tangible rewards are also motivating for some people. For instance, if you achieve a long-term exercise goal, you may want to treat yourself to a massage, a new pair of walking shoes, a weighted blanket, or some new music to enjoy during your workouts.
After your workout, practice a little bit of breathing technique to reduce stress and re-oxygenate your body.
- Do reality checks. It’s easy to lose your motivation if you don’t think you’re improving. In order to stay motivated, use tools like before-and-after photos, tape measurements, or performance measurements (your best mile, how much can you deadlift, how many pushups can you do) to show your progress. Doing a reality check to see your actual progress will put things into perspective and remind you of how far you have come.
If you’d like some help with motivation to exercise, Basics and Beyond’s personal trainers may be just what you need!
Call 615-442-7700, or click here to send us a message.
Some more tips for exercise motivation by some of the leading voices in the exercise field: