America's Energy Doctor
I recently wrote up some tips to stay motivated for weight loss, and now I want to address some helpful tips to stay motivated to exercise. Exercising is, of course, a huge part of reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight. And it’s crucial for continuing good health and high energy levels.
Lack of motivation is a huge hurdle for so many people. My patients tell me all the time about how they start off with positive lifestyle changes with the best of intentions, but somehow the efforts fall by the wayside eventually. It usually doesn’t even take that long for things to taper off, or just stop.
There are plenty of excuses. Not having enough time to exercise is undoubtedly the most common. I always stress the importance of making exercise a routine, rather than simply trying to fit it in here and there when you can. Once workouts are built into your schedule, efforts to improve your fitness get much easier to maintain.
So, since most of us can use a little help in the motivation department from time to time—especially when just starting out with a fitness regimen—take a look at these tips to stay motivated to exercise.
How to Stay Motivated to Exercise
- Consider joining a gym. There are pros and cons, but some of the pros are that paying for membership, all the equipment options, availability of classes and instructors, and the fun atmosphere can be highly motivating.
- Start slowly and build up gradually. Not only is this safer, reducing the chances that you hurt yourself and can’t continue working out—it also helps keep you from becoming de-motivated by overdoing it and feeling bad about yourself.
- Set realistic, short-term workout goals, like walking briskly for 20 minutes every day for a week.
- Make your exercise goals about process (as in the above example), rather than only setting goals that reflect results (like losing 10 pounds).
- While routines and commitments are critical to success, be careful about setting yourself up with absolutes that work against you. For instance, don’t make it so that if you miss Monday morning’s workout, you feel like the whole week’s blown and don’t do any exercising for the rest of the week.
- Vary the types of exercises you do and the locations where you do them to help prevent boredom with your workout routine.
- As part of this variety, combine aerobic and strength-building exercises to keep things interesting, maximize the benefits, and feel as good as possible about your efforts.
- Attend different types of fitness classes. This provides variety and diverse workouts, exposes you to new things you like to do, and helps you meet new friends.
- Buy exercise outfits and put them on. Spending the money on them motivates you to use the clothes. Having designated clothing and getting them on makes you feel more like a “real” exerciser.
- Change your mindset from thinking about workouts as a chore to something positive that’s accomplishing great things for you.
- Jot down how you feel after workouts. You may be physically beat, but mentally and emotionally, you’ll feel good and proud. Remembering this is key to changing your attitude toward exercise and staying motivated in for the long run.
- Remind yourself constantly why you’re doing it. Whether it’s to lose weight, to improve your energy, to manage a health condition, to get off something like a hypertension drug, to be around for your kids longer, or all of the above, never lose sight of your reasons.
- Get yourself a workout partner!
- Hang out with high-energy people who exercise regularly and talk about it enthusiastically.
- Tell someone your fitness plans who’ll keep you accountable, encourage you when you’re struggling, and cheer you on when you’re doing well.
- Consider using a fitness coach. A good one won’t just help you learn proper techniques and get comprehensive workouts—they’ll also be great at keeping you motivated.
- Keep track of your successes, whether it’s in terms of pounds lost, how many more reps you can do now, how much farther or faster you can run now, etc.
- Listen to happy, upbeat music while you work out. It helps keep you going, but it also boosts your mood—and you want to associate exercising with feeling good.
- Give yourself occasional rewards for consistently sticking to your plan. Sure, it can be a food treat every once in a while, but don’t make it all about food; maybe get yourself a massage or take a weekend day off for a Netflix binge.
- Stop obsessing on how you look. While many of us exercise in part to improve our physical appearance, this isn’t always a healthy way to thing about things. Focus on what you’re doing to improve your health and quality of life, feel better, build up your energy, and extend your life.