Not too long ago, I wrote a post about how regular exercise can improve your life. I’ve seen how it’s made a difference in my life, and I’ve been pretty good at continuing to exercise in order to keep that good thing going.
However, starting out isn’t easy. One of the commenters on the post asked about getting motivated to exercise more, so I thought I’d write this post. It hits home for me because I really hate exercising just for the sake of exercising. So, here are 5 ideas for motivating yourself to exercise more:
1. Start Small
Since I hate straight up exercise so much, my method was to start small. Rather than try to exercise for 30 or 40 minutes right out of the gate, I started with 5 to 10 minutes. Starting small can help you get accustomed to the habit of exercising. Start with a 5 to 10 minute chunk for a week. Then up the amount you exercise to 10 to 15 minutes the next week.
Add 5 minutes to your routine each week until you reach your goal regarding how long you want to exercise each day.
2. Do Something You Enjoy
One of the best ways to stick with exercise is to choose an activity that you enjoy. I love to swim, so I drive to the gym twice a week and swim laps. Because I enjoy this activity, it makes exercise (at least twice a week) less onerous. Now that it’s summer, I go bike riding with my son more; this is another activity I enjoy quite a bit. We can go on a long bike ride, and that counts as cardio for me.
Figure out which physical activities you like best, whether it’s shooting hoops or jogging, and make it a point to engage in that exercise at least two or three times a week as part of your effort. You’ll be more likely to stick with the program.
3. Change it Up
An issue I run into with exercise is that I tend to get bored with the same routine over and over again. Besides, if you do the same exercises, in the same order, eventually your body gets used to it, and the exercises are no longer as effective. If you want to keep making progress with your body, and stay motivated to keep exercising, change it up sometimes.
I use yoga, kickboxing, pilates, strength training, and a variety videos on FitSugar to keep me interested. Sometimes I even pull up a belly dance workout on YouTube. You need to work on muscle tone as well as cardio for a well-rounded exercise routine, and there are numerous ways to combine your efforts. A little variety can keep you interested and motivated to exercise.
4. Get a Workout Buddy
Sometimes, all it takes to get motivated is to find a workout buddy. When I was in college, and trying to get back into swimming, I went with two friends. The fact that there were three of us encouraging each other, and knocking on each other’s doors in the morning, helped get us out of bed in the morning.
Even if you don’t workout together every day, there is still the element of accountability. Use your workout buddy to help you track your progress and compare notes. You don’t even need a physical workout buddy. There are a number of apps that can help you track your exercise routine and help you record your progress and share with friends. Join an online community to support you as you work toward your goals, and that connection can help you stay motivated.
5. Set a New Goal for Your Exercise
If you have a goal to keep you motivated, it’s easier to motivate yourself. Whether it’s achieving better muscle tone, being able to run a 5K, or some other goal, when you have something to work for — and you track your progress — it’s easier to stay motivated. Once you reach one goal, set another. It can even be as simple as deciding that you want to reach a certain level of proficiency in yoga or tai chi. Pick something that makes sense for you, and work toward it.
I’m still working toward a weight goal (5 pounds to go!), but when I’m done, I’m considering focusing on improving my swim time, or working toward being able to ride my bike to a distant location for a picnic with my son. As long as you have something to look forward to, it’s easier to stay motivated.
What do you think? What motivates you?