Two Simple Ways to Stay Motivated to Exercise

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

The list of reasons why you should work out goes on and on: Regular exercise gives you energy, fights disease, improves your mood and sleep and, of course, helps you better control your weight. But the equally long list of excuses why you can’t make time to do it today, or tomorrow, may be just as convincing. Even with the best intentions, an unexpectedly busy week or a sick kid could throw off your schedule. Or maybe you’re feeling frustrated at not seeing results fast enough, so you lose steam, and then interest.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. We all hit roadblocks, but to help push through you have to find your personal motivation. Goals like losing weight or looking better might inspire you at the start, but the internal motivators—the reasons that are deeper and more meaningful—are the ones that will help you continue exercising. Maybe you do it because it’s enjoyable or feels rewarding, or because you’re preparing to participate in a breast cancer walk, for example.

The more you give personal meaning to exercising, the more likely you’ll stick with it. So here are two more tips to help you stay motivated to exercise.

Set smaller goals. You hear the recommended ‘30 minutes of exercise on most days’ and think no way you can devote that chunk of time. So don’t. Break it up into shorter sessions, and you still get the same effects. One study showed overweight women dropped equal amounts of weight whether they did one 30-minute workout, two 15-minute sessions, or three 10-minute ones.

Think fun, not “exercise.” You don’t have to take a spin class or go to a gym, especially if you don’t enjoy it. Anything that gets you moving more is great, like walking in the park with a friend, joining a softball team, taking dance classes, or even shooting hoops with your kids. Try different activities; you’re more likely to keep doing something if you’re having a good time doing it.