Find your motivation to exercise
We've all been there. Too tired, too busy, we skip the workout we planned. When excuses are all too handy, motivation is hard to come by.
We’ve all been there. Too tired, too busy, we skip the workout we planned. We know exercise is beneficial: it reduces stress, helps prevent chronic health conditions, manages weight, and increases energy levels. When excuses are all too handy, motivation is hard to come by.
Exercise doesn’t have to be something we dread or something we resign ourselves to do simply because we know we should. Here is a simple guide to help you get and stay on the exercise track so that you can reap the many benefits of physical activity.
Find a goal that excites you
What motivates one person may not necessarily work for someone else. The first step in switching to an active lifestyle is reflecting on what drives you personally. People commonly cite losing weight or staying in shape as motivators to exercise. Yet these goals are unspecific and uninspiring.
According to life coach Jey Wyder, a good way to motivate yourself to exercise is to tie exercise with a secondary goal—something that excites you and pulls you forward. To find out what kind of secondary goal might drive you, ask yourself: What do I enjoy doing? What am I passionate about?
Maybe you are passionate about giving back to the community. You could try signing up for a charity run and raising money for a cause you care about. Perhaps you enjoy socializing. You could start a walking club with like-minded friends or join an exercise class.
Are you a numbers person? Try using a heart-rate monitor. Competitive? Join a sports league or strive to beat your own fastest time. If you enjoy the challenge of learning a new skill try martial arts, ballroom dancing, or fencing.
Whatever goal you decide upon, make sure it is something you like. Be honest with yourself. If something doesn’t inspire you, it’s not worth pretending it does.
Create conditions for success
Becoming a regular exerciser is about changing habits. As we know, habits tend to stick. Yet change is possible.
“If you change all of the parts [of] you are less likely to go back to your old habits,” says Wyder. When you want to change your habits, you must take into account four components of your life: your thoughts and emotions, your physical environment, your physical actions, and your network of support.
To illustrate this, take the example of running. People who are trying to run regularly need to find a running goal that excites them (a change in thoughts and emotions); they need to find a running route they like (a change in physical environment); they need to get out and do the running (a change in physical actions); and they need to surround themselves with people who support their goal, for example, a running club (a network of support).
Whatever your goal is, find ways to integrate it with all areas of your life. ‰ In doing so, you’ll find it more difficult to return to your non-exercising ways.
Find something that works for you
Everyone is busy. Lack of time is a common excuse for skipping exercise. Take a look at your life and find something that works for you. Perhaps a workout right after work is best for you. Or maybe a short walk in the morning before the kids are awake is what gets you active.
Understand also that exercise will make you more effective in other areas of your life. Taking time out of work to go for a walk or take an aerobics, spinning, or yoga class might be just what you need to get your mind on track so you can meet that crushing deadline.
Be easy on yourself
Other common mistakes people make when starting an exercise program are going too fast too soon or being self-critical about slip-ups. Your goal is to become a regular exerciser, not to become the perfect exerciser. You may have bad days. You may have a whole week (or more) where you don’t do anything. The trick is not to beat yourself up about it. Adopt perseverance, not perfection as a motto.
“If you can just show up [to], and keep showing up, one day at a time, change will happen,” says Wyder. “Don’t expect perfection—in the class or the run or the game, whatever it is. Keep showing up, and every time you do, you are that little bit healthier than you were before.” The key then is to keep showing up. Even if you only exercise a little each time, you are moving in the right direction.
Take advantage of community resources Starting an exercise plan does not necessarily mean laying down a ton of money. Local community centres are great resources for those looking for inexpensive ways to get active.
You may also want to talk to your local health practitioner or check out your local health food store for information about inexpensive exercise events happening in your community. Running stores often host free running clinics in the evenings. These events can be a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and get involved in your community while exercising.
Yes, it is possible to overcome the inertia that stops you from getting out there. Once you get going you’ll find that exercising becomes a new habit that you enjoy and look forward to every day.
Quick tips to get yourself exercising
Make a date
Enlist a friend as an exercise buddy. It’ll be harder to skip a workout if you know someone else is counting on you to show up. This same principle works for sports teams: if you miss a game, you have a whole team of people annoyed at you.
Put down a bit of money
It’s amazing how motivated you can become when your money is involved. Even something as simple as paying a small race fee can help get you out training. If you are paying for something, you’re going to want to get your money’s worth.
Write it in your calendar
Set aside a particular time in the week to exercise and write it down. This helps you stay organized so that you can plan the rest of your life around your workouts and not the other way around.
Set up small incentives
Decide on a small reward for yourself if you fit in all your planned workouts for a specific period of time—say a week or a month. Your reward might be something like new exercise socks, a pedicure, or a self-indulgent hour at the spa.
Set aside your exercise gear
Laying out your gear ahead of time will help you save time and eliminate yet one more excuse not to exercise.