5 Ways to Get Motivated and Stay Motivated to Exercise

Photo credit: “Mike” Michael L. Baird [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are like many other people, when it comes to exercise, you start out fired up and then fizzle out. Getting motivated is often the easy part. You know you should be exercising more, so why are you sitting on the sofa eating chips and watching television? Exercising often feels like work and sometimes the rewards may be slow in coming, especially if you’ve been sedentary for a long time or if you are trying to lose weight. Getting and staying motivated requires changing how you think about exercise. Change the way you think about exercise and you will see changes in your body and your health.

  1. Do It for You

You may need to lose a few pounds, just want to tighten and tone your muscles, or you are concerned about your heart health. Whatever your reasons for wanting to exercise more, do it for you. If you start exercising to lose weight because your partner commented on your weight, you may not be able to maintain your motivation momentum and may even become resentful and lose your motivation when you don’t see the results you expect – or your partner expects. The benefits of being more physically active include losing or maintaining your weight, stronger and leaner muscles, stronger bones, and reducing your risk of diseases associated with being overweight. The physical benefits of exercise can be a great starting point, but over time you may lose interest unless you have an emotional or psychological reason to keep going. For example, exercise and getting fit may help you feel more confident or help you feel less stressed at the end of the day. Find the internal motivation that keeps you active and focus on that. Soon you will be looking forward to walking for 30 minutes after work to relieve stress or swimming 20 laps to feel energized.

  1. Have Fun

Exercise can be hard work, but if it feels like work you probably aren’t going to stick with it for very long. Find an activity that you love and do that. You don’t even have to have a regular schedule of exercise to get fit and stay healthy. You can find easy ways to exercise every day. Consider it a challenge. Park one block from your work and walk the rest of the way to work 2 or 3 days each week. Instead of driving the half mile to the convenience store, ride your bicycle. Walk the dog or walk your neighbor’s dog. Play games with your kids in the park. Challenge yourself by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Join a group of friends and walk, jog or ride bikes each weekend. There are innumerable opportunities to exercise and have fun doing it.

  1. Make Time for Fitness

Most of us have busy schedules. Going to the gym takes time and costs money. Between work and family, we have little time left for ourselves. Make fitness your YOU time. It’s your special time that you take for yourself. Even as little as 15 minutes each day can have beneficial effects on your body and on your mind. You can resolve to do yoga, or walk, or do some calisthenics or 15 to 20 minutes each day between the time you get home from work and time to cook dinner. Your fitness program doesn’t have to be set in stone either. Be flexible with your schedule. If you simply cannot find a full 30 minutes in any day to exercise, do it in 10 minute sets. You may also consider adding exercise to things you are already committed to doing. If you have to attend a parent-teacher meeting after school, ride bikes to the school with your kids or walk. You can pedal on a stationary bike or walk on a treadmill while reading the report your boss handed you at the end of the day to prepare for a staff meeting.

  1. Set Attainable Goals

One sure way to lose your motivation and simply give up is to set unattainable goals. It isn’t possible, and potentially dangerous to try, to lose 20 pounds in 10 days. It simply isn’t realistic to think you can achieve such a goal. No matter what the television infomercials claim, you are not going to have the muscles of a body builder in a mere 4 weeks of lifting weights or using an exercise machine. Set realistic and attainable goals for yourself. Start small and reward yourself each time you reach your goal. For example, if you want to be more active and have been sedentary for years, set a goal of walking for 5 minutes every other day at lunch time or after work. Once you have been walking for 5 minutes, bump up your goal to 10 minutes every other day and then 15 minutes every other day for a week. Add 5 minutes of walking time each week. Before long you will be walking for a full 30 minutes three days each week with little or no effort.

  1. Adjust Your Attitude

Be prepared for setbacks by changing the way you think about not reaching your goals. Do you beat yourself up with negative self-talk? Do you think, “I’m such a loser” or “I’m never going to get in shape”? Stop. Just because you didn’t exercise today does not mean you are lazy or a loser or that you are never going to reach your ultimate fitness goals. A thunderstorm or snowy, cold weather may prevent you from walking around the block like you do every day after dinner, but you don’t have to sit down and eat a bag of chips because you can’t go walking. Put on a dance video and dance in your living room for 20 minutes. Run up and down the stairs for 5 minutes or get on your treadmill instead. Walk or jog for an extra 5 minutes tomorrow. Stepping on the bathroom scale may result in disappointment, especially if you set weight loss goals that are too high or unrealistic. One setback does not have to mean you lose your motivation. Adjust your goals and keep going. Are you fitter and more active than you were a month ago? Three months ago? You are already a winner if you are getting more exercise. Think of yourself as a fit, active person, and soon you will be.

Beachbody

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About Robin R.
I’m an AFPA certified personal trainer & nutrition consultant, NASM certified corrective exercise specialist, NASM certified youth exercise specialist, online fitness coach and freelance writer specializing in health and fitness. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health. I specialize in weight loss, functional strength training, total body toning, aerobic conditioning, plyometric training, nutrition planning, and home-based boot camp style workouts for women. My goal is to make every personal training session fun and effective for my clients. My services include both in-home personal training and online fitness coaching.

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