How many times have you heard you should exercise more to be healthy? The truth is most of us just don’t like to exercise. So, how do you get up off the couch or recliner and get in some exercise minutes? Easy! Read on to understand why you don’t exercise and how to incorporate more exercise into your week with these 6 exercise motivation tips.
What? I’m an Exercise Advocate?!?
If you’d asked me in my 20’s if I’d ever be an exercise advocate, I’d have had to stop laughing before I passed out, then answer. Ditto for the next couple of decades.
Now, I realize I just can’t be healthy without daily exercise. The key for me, and I bet it’s the same for you, is to just get myself to begin. Once I’m at the gym, or walking out the door to take the dog for a walk, or working outside in my yard, I’m going to exercise for at least half an hour.
I’ve found it’s getting started that’s the key. After all, studies show just 5-10 minutes of sustained exercise makes a difference. It doesn’t take hours of exercise at one time to have a healthy body, and overdoing exercise can be just as bad for you as not exercising at all.
Here are the 6 exercise motivation tips (aka bribes) I use to motivate myself to exercise regularly. I hope at least a few of them work for you or that they’ll spark you to think about your own motivations.
These 6 exercise motivation tips aren’t listed in any order of importance. Some days one works; some days another. Most importantly, at least one of them works regularly.
1. You just have to do it for 5 minutes.
I tell myself I can exercise for five minutes, then quit if I want. Since beginning to exercise is the hump I have to get over, the key is getting myself to begin.
I find it helps to keep reminding myself I only have to exercise for five minutes as I get my clothes and shoes on, get together anything else I need like water and the dog’s leash, etc. I often walk around the house grumbling, “Five minutes, just five minutes!”
Once I get myself exercising, I usually make it to at least 30 minutes just to get through my routine, walk the dog as far as usual, etc. I feel better after I begin, and I want to finish my routine.
FYI, this also works for me for cleaning and organizing the house too, an activity I dislike every bit as much as exercising. After all, it’s a mild form of exercise.
2. You can do anything you want for exercise as long as you do something.
On those days when it’s cold, nasty weather outside, all I want to do is snuggle up on the couch under a super soft, snuggly blanket. So, it just about takes a nuclear bomb to motivate me to move.
Those are the days when any type of exercise is better than no exercise. The gym seems a thousand miles away, and nothing is appealing in the way of movement.
However, I have to get up to use the bathroom and scrounge up some food. While I’m waiting for the food to heat up, I can do a few arm exercises by holding onto either side of the sink and lowering myself forward and back. When I go to sit on the commode, I can add a few more squats.
Anything really is better than nothing when it comes to exercise.
3. You can have x if you’ll just exercise for y minutes.
Sometimes, it takes a bribe. While I’m no longer a child, there’s still a part of me that isn’t going to cooperate unless the price is right.
I try to get to the gym three times a week to do a circuit weightlifting workout. It takes a minimum of 30 minutes, and if I’m doing a thorough job, 45 minutes. So, if I haven’t been for a couple of days and have zero motivation to go, it’s time for a bribe.
I can bribe myself better than anyone else because I know exactly what will get me to that gym and through those 30-45 minutes. Maybe it’s a promise of a meal at my favorite restaurant, maybe it’s a visit to my favorite clothing store, or buying myself a new flower to plant in the yard or hang. Whatever it is, it’s worth it.
I’ve also found it’s really important to actually pay myself the bribe. I have to believe I’m getting something for my effort the next time, after all. ?
4. You can’t let a friend (or family member) down.
I frequently schedule a walk or workout with a friend or family member. Even if they just meet me at the gym, and we do our workouts separately, we can get a drink or meal after the workout.
I rarely go out and get something to eat without including some type of exercise because the promise of meeting someone for the meal means we’ll also take the time to go for a walk, for example. My friends tell me they love the extra time to talk, and they need exercise, too!
We’re creatures of habit, and it’s really nice when our habits help us to be healthy. Now, my mom texts me to ask me if I want to work out. (It took me several years of asking to finally get her to try.) My best friend, Lou, asks me when we can go for lunch and a walk. I take my dog along and we eat outside at a little café in our hometown, Jonesborough, TN, then take the dog (and ourselves) for a walk.
I feel super good about my friends and family being healthier. Even though they may roll their eyes at me sometimes, I know they appreciate our exercise time together, too.
5. You’ll fit into this lovely (insert too small piece of clothing here) if you’ll exercise.
I’ve been known to buy clothes a size (or two) smaller as an incentive to lose a few pounds and exercise. Understand this is only when I’m already overweight.
My last purchase was a pair of black jeans with floral embroidery on the legs. Those days I’m lacking in motivation to exercise, I go to my dresser, pull out the jeans and hold them up. I imagine how I’ll look when they fit, and how good they’ll look on me.
Works like a charm! I’m now a size 10 and so are those jeans. They’ve provided exercise motivation over and over as I worked out and ate healthier food to fit into and stay in them.
6. Just look at your (insert least favorite body part here)! Get moving and work it out!!
Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love my body. Overall, it’s a terrific vehicle and has taken me through a fabulous life so far. But, like most women, I have a few parts I’d like to change, at least a little. You know that under arm flab you can get on the underside of your upper arm? Or, how about that bulge that sneaks in near the belly button and tends to slip over your pants button? Maybe you have a different spot than me, but you get the idea.
When I don’t feel like exercising, I go to the mirror and look at that least liked part of my body for a few seconds and imagine how it will look after a few more weeks (or months) of working out. Yep, I know exactly how to whip that flab into shape, and when I don’t, there’s a personal trainer at my gym who can give me a tip or two.
Once I get that body part into shape, then I just go to the mirror and see how good it looks. I remind myself I intend to keep it that way, and I do that by exercising.
How Do You Get Motivated to Exercise?
Do you use one of the 6 exercise motivation tips I use or something totally different? What works best for you? What type of exercise do you like and do regularly? Please comment and share your motivational challenges and insights with exercise! We’re all stronger when we share our insights and motivations. I’m always surprised at ideas others have that I’d never think of myself. ?
If you liked this post, then you’ll like the companion post: Motivational Exercise Quotes to Help you Exercise More Frequently. I find it helps me to print them out and post these terrific quotes in obvious places around the house.
Yes, people often look at me like I’ve lost my marbles, but I appease myself by remembering they’re looking at a fit, healthy body that houses a happy person. As long as I’m laughing too, then they’re laughing with me, not at me. And, maybe I’ll talk them into exercising with me tomorrow!
Lisa Hays is the author of Naturally Happy Healthy Me, a blog devoted to all things happy and healthy, including low fat or low carb recipes that are sweetened with monk fruit powder, and a new series on being happy and aware called Aware Power.