Get Motivated to Work Out
Maybe you’ve wanted to become more active for a while. Maybe that time is now. These simple strategies can help.
For many people, perhaps you included, getting more active just seems like a lot of hard work. Others remember that drill sergeant of a high-school teacher—“50 more sit-ups, now!” —and have been turned off to exercise ever since.
But that’s not the way it has to be. Increasing your physical activity, if you follow a few simple rules, can be relatively easy to do—and enjoyable. Before you start on A Simple Plan to Get Fit, let’s talk about what activity can do for you.
Always be sure to check with your health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity.
Inspiration, starting now
The best motivation of all? Knowing all the great benefits that may come your way with increased fitness.
A recent report from the American Medical Association (AMA) states that becoming just a little more active can help you prevent and control heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, certain cancers, and depression. What’s more, the AMA says that getting active will also help you sleep better, feel more energized, decrease stress, improve mood, and lose or control your weight.
That’s a good start—but there’s more. A recent US Surgeon General’s report on exercise and health listed some key motivational tips. According to the report, you are more likely to keep doing physical activities if you:
Believe that, overall, you’ll benefit from them
Include activities you enjoy
Feel you can do the activities correctly and safely
Have regular and easy access to the activities
Can fit the activities into your daily schedule
Believe the activities are affordable
Don’t experience negative consequences (like injuries)
Make it part of the routine
It’s tougher to stay motivated with your activity if you feel like there’s never enough time for it. The key is to make activity part of your routine, so eventually it feels strange when you don’t do it. Here are 4 ways to fit it in:
Wake up 30 minutes earlier. This gives you time for some extra walking, stretching, or gardening. Need motivation to set that alarm? Research suggests that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to stay with it than those who exercise later.
Put it on the schedule. The idea is to treat your activity like any other important task during the day. So include it on your to-do lists.
Multitask at home. Ride a stationary bike while you watch TV. Keep a pair of dumbbells handy and do some strength training during the commercials. Get in the habit of doing some stretching between shows.
Work out at work. Park farther away from the office and walk the rest of the way. Use the first 10 minutes of your lunch break for a brisk walk. Take regular breaks during the day to walk a lap or 2 around the building.
Now it’s up to you
With all these ways to keep you motivated, you’re now ready to get going—and keep going—on your activity plan. For a step-by-step guide for creating a plan, go to A Simple Plan to Get Fit.
And remember, anytime you need a shot of motivation to keep you going, return to this article. You might want to print it out for handy reference.
Watch Out for These 4 Demotivators
I’m not seeing any progress. Be patient, the plan sometimes works in invisible ways (a stronger heart, for example). Soon enough you’ll see and feel results.
I’m in a rut. It happens to everyone, even Olympic athletes. Try changing your routine, where you exercise, or adding a new activity or training partner (this last one can really make a difference).
I’m always running into roadblocks. Be ready for bad weather or increased hours of darkness in winter. For instance, take your activity inside or exercise at lunchtime. The same goes for injury or sickness; it happens, so focus on getting yourself healthy first, then return to your plan.
I keep thinking about the negatives. Always better to strive toward something positive (more energy, lower weight, improved mood) than to run away from something (bad health, looking heavy, feeling down).