10 ways to get motivated to exercise and stick with it
If there was something you could do that would give you more energy, boost your mood, prevent many chronic diseases and health conditions, plus help you sleep better and live an overall healthier life, would you do it? Sounds great, doesn’t it? There is something that can do all those things - it’s exercise! Exercising regularly can give you all those benefits and more yet still it isn’t something most Americans do. Exercise is often seen as a chore, something we should do but don’t want to do. Despite its many proven health benefits and health conditions it improves or prevents, exercise is something many people do not take the time to do or just don’t want to do.
The CDC Physical Activity Guidelines recommend adults 18 and older aim for 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise (brisk walking for example) or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous (running for example) exercise each week. They also recommend adults have at least two sessions of resistance muscle building exercises and that older adults should incorporate balance enhancing exercises as well. 150 minutes sounds overwhelming at first but it breaks down to 30 minutes five days a week. Or it can be broken down into smaller bouts of exercise like a 10-minute walk three times a day five days a week.
According to a 2020 National Health Interview Survey, only 46.9% of adults aged 18 and over met the Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic activity and only 24.2% of adults aged 18 and over met the Guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. We hopefully know the many health benefits of exercise so why don’t over 50% of Americans do it at all? Then there are those who are faithful to a workout routine and exercise on a consistent basis. How did they get to that point? How do you make working out a habit? How do you get exercise to be a regular part of your life? Here are 10 ideas to get motivated to exercise and stick with it.
- Find Your Why - You can’t always rely on external factors, such as an upcoming vacation, to motivate you. Defining your “why” for exercise will give you a personal or emotional investment in your goals. It could be to get up and down off the floor and run around and play with your kids or grandkids. It could be to remain living independently as you age. Your why could be because the mental health boost is what you look forward to after each workout. Everyone’s reason why they are exercising could be different. Find yours and remind yourself of it when you want to skip your workout.
- Schedule Your Workouts - Just like any important appointment, put your time for physical activity on your calendar. Treat it like an appointment that you can’t cancel without a fee!
- Make it as Convenient as Possible – We are much more likely to do something if it is convenient. Having a hard time getting to the gym? Identify the problem. Is your gym too far away from your home or work? Maybe they have a different location. Is it too difficult to remember to take your gym bag with you when you go to work? Keep it packed with the necessities, put in clean gym clothes as soon as you take dirty clothes out of it and then immediately put it in your car, so your bag is in there for the next trip to the gym. One person I worked out with slept in her workout clothes, so she was all ready for her morning workout when she woke up. Make it as easy as possible! By identifying the problem, you can determine a potential solution. Make it as easy as possible to do the thing you want to do instead of the thing you are trying not to do. It won’t always be completely convenient but making it easier for you will make you more likely to stick with it.
- Make Exercise Fun – There are so many things to do that can give you the benefits of exercise that you shouldn’t feel like you are stuck doing something you absolutely hate. Try different types of physical activity to find what you enjoy most. Hiking, pickleball, dancing, swimming, and group fitness classes are just a few ways to get your movement in. Find what you like best and don’t be afraid to keep trying new things to mix it up.
- Find An Accountability Partner- Having someone with you can help make exercising more fun and it can also help you to be more likely to do it on a regular basis. You will be less likely to skip that workout class if your friend is there waiting for you. Or maybe you have a weekly lunch with a friend that you can start walking before or after.
- Pause, don’t stop - Restarting is harder than starting. If you derail from your new exercise routine, take a step back and pause. Don’t think all is lost because you missed a few days of your new habits. You didn’t stop, you just paused and are able to start right back up where you left off. This happens to everyone, and it will to you as well. Plan for it and know what you will do when you do get off track. Building healthier routines is not all or nothing, and missing a week of workouts or one weekend of unhealthy eats doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you human and you can unpause and get back to your workout routine as soon as you can.
- Track Your Progress – The adage “you manage what you measure” rings true for many. Tracking your fitness can be a good way to stick with a healthier habit. Some might find it helpful to write in a journal after each workout about what they did and how they felt. Looking back at what you did and how it felt 6 weeks ago can help you see how far you have progressed and be a motivator to keep going. Keeping a calendar or using a don’t break the chain habit tracker can be motivating as well. Once you see your streak of keeping up your new habit, you won’t want to break it! Or if you prefer data, use a fitness tracker to track your workouts, steps, or other health related metrics. (Read more about this in my post about fitness trackers.).
- Hire a Personal Trainer – Read about why you should hire a personal trainer in my last blog post. A trainer can help make your workouts more fun and effective. Plus, you are less likely to skip your workout when your trainer is waiting for you.
- Make Time for Rest – It’s true when they say you can have too much of a good thing. Working out intensely every day, or doing too much too soon, can take a toll on your body. Not only can it make you not want to work out regularly after some time of doing too much, but it could also cause injury or lead to overtraining. Make sure at least one day of the week is devoted to active rest (like stretching, gentle yoga or an easy walk) or complete rest. Consult a personal trainer if you are unsure of what the right amount of exercise would be for you at this time.
- Mix it Up – One training plan can work temporarily but to keep your fitness progressing, it is best to change up your routine in some way after some time. Making slight changes to your routine can keep you challenged and bust any boredom that might come up with your workouts as well. The changes can be a simple as adding more or doing less repetitions or using more weight to your usual exercises or it could be trying a new workout class.
Exercise is an important part of a healthy life. Experiment with ways to get it in your regular schedule and get it done consistently. Need help? Have questions? Contact a LivRite trainer for a fitness assessment today!