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10 Steps to Keep Yourself Motivated to Exercise Regularly

10 Steps to Keep Yourself Motivated to Exercise Regularly

Disclaimer: I am not a trained health and wellness guru, nor am I medical doctor. Before embarking on any exercise activities, you should consult with your doctor or healthcare professional.

Exercise. It’s an important part of any healthy lifestyle. Exercising can be one of the hardest activities to commit to doing regularly. Scheduling a workout is easy, but getting yourself to partake in some form of physical activity (i.e. exercise) is where things get tricky. Many friends, relatives, acquaintances, and people I meet often complain about wanting to exercise regularly, but all seem to have excuses why they are unable to do so.

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There are a combination of factors why people don’t exercise, a few of these factors are: 1) lack of time, or engagement with other activities that are deemed of higher priority than exercise, 2) physical restrictions, such as having an injury or disability, 3) good ol’ laziness, and 4) being ill. Aside from being ill, three of these excuses can likely be addressed and dismissed with a little motivation.

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Below are 10 steps I use to motivate myself to exercise more regularly:

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  • Determine the types of physical activity you like or dislike, as well as the activities that you physically can or cannot do. Focus on doing the activities you enjoy, can do, and able are to financially afford. You don’t need to sign up to a gym contract to get a good work-out. There are an endless number of exercises you can do without gym equipment or weights. You can learn more about such exercises by researching websites and videos online using search terms like “exercises without weights”. The key is to explore and try new and enjoyable ways of becoming and staying physically active.
  • Visualize performing the exercise activity. William Arthur Ward was quoted saying, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” This quote holds true even for small feats, like going on a daily jog. Visualizing gives your brain something to do before your body does it. It also makes exercising seem more surmountable, considering any obstacles one may face.
  • Time limit your activity and don’t cut yourself short. Tyler Durden from Fight Club said it best, “Don’t let the things you own, own you.” Your job, cell phone, computer, friends, or family can take up a lot of time, but surely you can grant yourself some time to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom, so why not a few minutes for exercise? For example, you can start with 5 or 10 minutes, three days a week, and build up from there. Even if you’re super busy traveling the world, you can take 5-10 minutes to stretch and do some push-ups or sit-ups wherever you are. You can always increase or decrease the time you spend exercising!
  • Form an exercise habit, no matter how small it is. One good habit can lead to another. Committing to too much exercise can burn a person out, especially if they haven’t had an exercise habit for a considerable period. Similarly, if you haven’t worked out for a long time, try starting with basic activities, such as simply dressing in your work-out gear, or going for a walk around the house or your neighbourhood. The key is to take time out for yourself and do something physical. Even taking 5 minutes to stretch your body is a good start, so long as you can keep doing it regularly.
  • Set milestones and goals for yourself. Having a fitness goal in mind can be helpful to staying focused. For example, if you wanted to be able to do 30 pull-ups in 60 seconds, you would want to work towards that goal by having several milestones, such as 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 pull ups in between. Milestones ensure you keep sight of your goal by having a set of achievable and quantifiable steps leading up to your goal.
  • Get involved in the social aspect of it. Exercising alone can be a bore. Fortunately, in the digital age, it is easy to connect with fellow exercise enthusiasts who enjoy meeting up with others to partake in exercise activities of shared interest. Facebook friends, Eventbrite events, local running clubs, social fitness apps etc. all help to connect you to other people who can motivate and make it more enjoyable to exercise.
  • Build interest in the industry. For example, if you are getting into tennis, learning more about tennis racquets, string types and tensions, tennis clothing, tennis ball types etc. are all part of the journey towards becoming a more informed player. Learning about the industry products and services will give you a greater interest and appreciation for your chosen sport or activity, as well as possibly helping you boost your performance, if you learn of new methods to improve and become a better player/participant.
  • Work towards your ideal self. Remind yourself of the body and figure you see your ideal self possessing and exercise your way towards it. Let’s be clear, that apart from possible health issues, there is nothing wrong with being overweight, but a person may have a self-image problem if they feel their self-confidence reduced because of their weight or body shape. There is no harm in imagining and working towards or retaining the body you want.
  • Having a better lifestyle. Once you start to feel the benefits of regular exercise, you may also start to become more conscious of the food you eat and other aspects of your health. Exercising, eating and drinking right, as well as adequate sleep, are all important factors of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy and getting adequate sleep will make it easier to retain your exercise routine.

Don’t quit. Just because you may find it hard to continue to commit yourself to three 10-minute sessions a week doesn’t mean you should stop altogether. Some physical activity is better than no physical activity at all. Don’t quit because you fall short of your milestones or goals. Forgive yourself for slipping up, dust yourself off, and try again. The longer you hold your exercise habit, the less likely you will quit, and the more likely you will build upon it!

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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Areion Azimi

Product Director at Sweet Startup

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Published on July 18, 2019

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, chances are you wouldn’t mind a little more definition in your midsection.

Whether you have a six pack or a beer belly, those abs could probably be a little bit sharper. Not to mention developing better core strength is hugely important when it comes to improving your overall strength and athleticism, as well as protecting you from injuries.[1]

The good news? Your abs and core muscles can handle a lot of training.

While most of your muscle groups do best with just two training sessions per week,[2] you can hit your abs every other day to great effect. You don’t even have to leave the house!

Here’s my guide to the 11 best core strengthening exercises you can do at home with no equipment.

1. Planks

Let’s start with the mother of all core-strengtheners, the plank.

Planks not only work your abs and obliques, they challenge those core muscles deep inside your body that help promote stability and power. They can also reduce back pain and improve your balance and posture.

Get down into pushup position, feet behind you, hands under your shoulders. Lock out your arms and legs, squeeze your core muscles, and hold your body stiff (like a plank!) for as long as you can.

For a more challenging variation, try a forearm plank with your arms out in front you. Lay your forearms on the ground for support, with your elbows under your face rather than aligned with your shoulders.

2. Side Planks

To hit your obliques even harder, try this challenging variation: the side plank.

From plank position, rotate onto one side. Prop yourself up on your elbow and one foot with your body straight and stiff.

Don’t forget to squeeze your core as you hold this position for as long as you can.

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Switch sides and repeat to avoid creating muscle imbalances.

3. Reverse Crunches

The regular stomach crunch is a fine exercise, but when it comes to abs and core strength, you’ll want to opt for moves that are a lot more challenging.

When you can crank out 50 crunches without a problem, it’s probably time for something new.

The reverse crunch packs a wallop for your lower abs and can be done anywhere, anytime, just like the standard crunch.

Lay on your back with knees bent in crunch position. Place your hands flat on the ground by your side and lift your pelvis, bringing your knees up toward your face, then back down again.

Engage your lower ab muscles to do the work, not your back. Repeat for a few sets of 12-20 reps.

4. Flutter Kicks

The lower abs are a problem area for a lot of people, so we’ll want to work them hard.

If that sounds like you, flutter kicks are just what the doctor ordered.

Lay flat on your back in leg raise position, hands at your sides or pressed into the floor. Raise your legs together about 6 inches off the floor, then alternate lowering one and raising one a few inches in rapid succession.

It should look like you’re kicking the air, and it should give you quite a burn in your abdominal area.

5. Arms High Sit-Ups

Imagine a crunch, but way harder!

Lay down on the ground in sit-up position, knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of you.

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Raise your arms up to the sky and keep them elevated as you perform a few sets of sit-ups.

Engaging your arms in this way makes the move extraordinarily difficult and taxing. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of this move versus traditional crunches.

6. L-Sits

The L-Sit is outrageously difficult to perform well, but if you can build your strength here, the benefits are phenomenal.

To perform an L-Sit, you’ll need a stable surface to press off of. You can do them on the floor, but it’s a little easier if you can elevate yourself on a pair of dumbbells, two sturdy chairs, or a similar apparatus.

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lock your arms in place at your sides, palms on the ground or surface, and press. Bring your legs into the air, perpendicular to your upper body, using the tension from your locked arms.

Hold this position as long as possible for an intense strength building workout.

7. Stomach Vacuums

And now for something different!

It’s easy to work your front-facing abdominal muscles, but there is another muscle group in your core that’s frequently overlooked: The transverse abdominis.

This muscle isn’t visible through your skin, but it’s incredibly important in stabilizing your body, creating good posture, and holding your belly in tight to your spine.

To strengthen this muscle and get a flatter stomach, try stomach vacuums.[3]

Standing straight and tall. Exhale all of the air out of your body and simultaneously pull your belly in tight. Imagine sucking your belly button back into your spine.

You’ll feel the transverse abdominis engage. Hold as long as possible, rest and then repeat.

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8. Star Planks

Planks are too effective to not utilize multiple variations of them in your routine.

The star plank engaged similar muscles to the traditional plank, but is a lot harder to hold for time.

From the push-up or standard plank position, walk your feet out wide and your hands, as well.

Your body should form an X position. Elevate your core off the ground, squeeze tight, and hold for as long as possible.

9. Boat Pose

Yogis know all about core strength, so if you want a tighter tummy, you should take a page out of their playbook.

Boat pose is an extremely difficult isometric hold that builds exceptional balance and core power.

Star in sit-up position. Crunch yourself up toward your knees, then lift your feet off the floor until they’re about level with your face. Balance on your butt, squeeze your core, and hold this position as long as you can.

Your body should form a V with the only point of contact being your butt on the ground. Holding boat pose should be extraordinarily challenging!

10. Mountain Climbers

Ab work alone won’t shred stomach fat. But when you combine abs and cardio, that’s when you’re onto something magical.

Mountain climbers fit the bill if you’re looking to blast your core and also work up a good sweat.

Get down into plank position. With your arms locked and your body tight, drive one knee at a time off the floor, up toward your chest, and then back to its original position. Repeat in quick succession.

It should look like you’re climbing a hill, and it should exhaust you in a matter of seconds!

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11. Russian Twists

Finally, let’s give the obliques a little more love.

Get down into sit-up position and perform a crunch toward your knees. From here, lean back so your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, clasp your hands in front of you, and twist side to side in rapid succession.

You’ll feel your obliques engage after just a few reps.

For a more difficult variation, lift your feet off the floor similar to boat pose while perform the move, or perform the twist using a heavy medicine ball for added resistance.

The Bottom Line

The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to six-pack abs is a low body fat percentage. That’s best accomplished by sticking to a smart diet and building your fully body strength.

However, if you want to improve your athleticism, overall strength, or even your longevity, you can afford to work your abs a bit more frequently — 3-4 times per week is perfect.

If you hit them hard enough, you’ll probably see some great improvement in definition as well!

Cranking out endless crunches is one way to go about core training, but there are so many better and more challenging moves you can try without ever having to leave your living room.

Give them a shot!

Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

Reference

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