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13 Tips to Actually Enjoy Exercising

13 Tips to Actually Enjoy Exercising

Is staying in shape always something that gets bumped to the bottom of your list? I know many people that complain about not having enough time to exercise. I think they are lying to themselves. The real problem is that they hate exercising, so it will never be a priority.

I used to hate exercising too. Going to the gym, running and most forms of physical activity seemed dull and painful compared to most other ways I could spend my time. But by not giving up and looking for a way I could enjoy working out, I reversed this pattern. Now I exercise 5-6 times per week and I hate not being able to go.

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Here’s some tips to make exercise something you actually want to do:

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  1. Make it a Habit – Remove the thinking element. If you can make exercise a habit, then it becomes that much easier to go. Here’s some tips on making habits stick if you aren’t sure where to start.
  2. Get a Partner – Get someone else to go to the gym with you. Pick someone who is committed to their health. Not only can you socialize with someone while you’re there, but you’ll have a backup in case your motivation alone isn’t enough to drag yourself out there.
  3. Tune Your Challenge Level – Here are two bad ways to start exercising. Go out and run until your winded and dry-heaving into a ditch. Show up to the gym, walk around, don’t do anything strenuous and go back home. In one case you put the challenge level to high, the other wasn’t challenging at all. Your goal is to set a workout routine that is challenging, but not overwhelming. Challenge is key to enjoyment.
  4. Set Goals – Not weight-loss or muscle gain goals, but fitness goals. Set goals to beat your past records in distance ran, push-ups or chin-ups you can do, weight you can lift or degree you can stretch. Fitness goals make the gym a game where you strive to beat your previous high-score.
  5. Get Past Your Comfort Zone – So what if you aren’t the most svelte or muscular person in the gym? Self-consciousness can be a big obstacle to enjoying your workout. The key is to get used to it. When you continue to show up, you’ll pay less attention to the people around you and more to your workout.
  6. Experiment – Don’t stick with the same routine. Mix it up and try different activities. There are many different exercise routines you can follow or activities to try. If you don’t like lifting weights or running, try sports, martial arts or dancing. Assuming that exercise needs to be pumping iron or jogging may limit you from finding something you would truly enjoy.
  7. Music – This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but music can enhance a workout. I find running almost twice as enjoyable with music than without it.
  8. Short Workouts – Don’t have time or enthusiasm to last an hour? Just go for twenty or thirty minutes. Shorter workouts can be better than longer ones if the intensity is higher and you become more focused as a result. After an hour or two of exercise your body starts to go into a state where more exercise can actually reduce physical improvements.
  9. Daily Challenges – Make your workout into a game. Sticking with the same type of exercises can get boring, so mix it up by introducing an unusual workout challenge. My gym partner and I have played a game that involves sit-ups and a deck of cards or one workout day that involves different types of push-ups. If you aren’t sure where to get ideas, look through a magazine like Mens Fitness which usually features a variety of different workouts.
  10. Reward Showing Up, Not Weight Loss – Some people have gotten the idea that they should reward themselves for losing weight or gaining muscle. I disagree. Instead, I think you should reward showing up to the gym and exercising regularly. There are many ways you can lose or gain weight in unhealthy fashions. Rewarding exercise is rewarding your commitment to health.
  11. Make Exercise Your Stress Relief – I know many people that swear by using the gym to relieve stress. Some of them will head to the gym because of a frustrating day even if it isn’t on their schedule. Exercising can be cathartic and release negative feelings if you get used to using it that way. Then instead of avoiding the gym because of a stressful day, it will be your reason to go.
  12. Record Improvements – Again I recommend recording fitness over body improvements. Recording weight loss or muscle gain is a good idea, but because of the way your metabolism functions it becomes increasingly harder to make weight changes as you go to the gym more regularly. But fitness improvements can, if you work on it, continue to rise. Keep a record of your strength, endurance and flexibility so you can get pride in your accomplishments.
  13. Make Time – You can’t say you don’t have time to exercise. Exercise improves your energy levels and mood which makes you more productive than any time lost. Find your forty minutes somewhere in the day and make it a commitment. Get up a bit earlier and go in the morning. Or schedule it right after work before you settle down for the day. Once you make time and make it a habit, you’ll actually want to exercise instead of just feeling you should.
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More by this author

Scott H Young

Scott is obsessed with personal development. For the last ten years, he's been experimenting to find out how to learn and think better.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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