Motivating yourself to start an exercise program and to keep it up can be the hardest part of getting fit. Fortunately, there are 10 ways you can motivate yourself to get off the couch and on the road to fitness. Once you do get into the habit of exercising, you may wonder how you ever enjoyed life without it.
1. Dress the part
Buy some flattering exercise clothes. Put them on first thing in the morning and look in the mirror. You have taken the first step. That was easy! Now, go to the gym and let everyone see how good you look in those workout clothes.
2. Find your favorite fitness routine
Explore as many forms of fitness as you can. Try tennis, swimming, zumba and yoga, whatever looks like fun. Trial and error can help identify which fitness regimen works best for you. Some people prefer to exercise alone while others enjoy the camaraderie of a group. You can decide which you prefer or whether you want to do both. One advantage to group exercise is that you might work out for longer in a class that sets a time limit. Another advantage of group fitness is making friends, which may provide the motivation to show up. Exercise classes can provide a social support network.
3. Exercise when it works best for you
If you’re an early riser, consider exercising before anything distracts you. If you need to unwind after work, evening classes could be just the thing. And if you’re really busy, jumping on that fitness game’s balance board whenever there’s time may work quite well. Experiment with different exercise times and schedules until you find which make it easiest.
4. Make exercise fun
Make exercise fun, advises the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Don’t think of exercise as a chore because you might resent it. Listen to music while you run. Look for beautiful scenery to walk alongside. Pick a class or a sport you really enjoy. The fun component will make it enjoyable rather than something you have to do.
5. Buddy up and take advantage of your friends
Studies show that working out with a friend does increase the likelihood that you will stay motivated.
6. Jog your memory as to why you exercise
As important as those reasons are, you may forget all about them when the couch is so comfortable and it’s raining outside. Remind yourself how much better you feel and look after fitness efforts. Focus on your goal. Maybe you want to impress your ex partner or multiply your dating chances?
What exactly are you after? Do you want killer abs? Do you want to look good in that tiny dress? Maybe you want to maintain flexibility so you can play with the grandkids. Maybe you want to get in shape for the vacation of a lifetime. Visualize that success. Keep your eyes on the prize.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others
Yes, that person sitting next to you in yoga can easily twist herself into a pretzel while minutes in the downward dog posture gets you winded, but you still benefit by trying. If you stick with it, you will be more flexible, have more endurance and feel better about yourself. Maybe one day you too will be able to twist yourself into a pretzel or even run a 10K.
8. Reward yourself
You worked hard. You deserve it. After a morning exercise session, treat yourself to brunch with your exercise buddies. Or buy a bouquet of flowers on the way home from exercise class. Once you lose a few inches, it may be time to treat yourself to a new wardrobe.
9. Consider the price of not going out to exercise
When deciding whether to stay couch-bound or head out, remember how you feel after you do exercise. Better, right? Then remember how sluggish you feel when you don’t. Also consider how long it will take you to get back in shape if you miss a few sessions. You really don’t want to go there.
10. Challenge yourself
Challenges keep exercise interesting. You may start out with plenty of enthusiasm but after a while your favorite fitness activity can start to feel like more of the same. A micro challenge makes it a fun game. Try working out with heavier weights or add a few more minutes of walking on the track. Or try another form of exercise. It’s good to mix things up. Social media offers a new way to promote exercise as you can challenge friends to work out.
Getting and staying motivated can be a challenge but once you get fit, fitness could become your favorite new habit.