“I know exercise is good for me, but I just don’t have the motivation to do it.” Sound familiar? That’s a common complaint, and motivation is especially difficult when you feel depressed, anxious or tired all the time. Sitting in front of the television or browsing the web to “numb” your emotions and shut everything else out seems much easier. But, try to think of exercise as a way of releasing your “bogged-down” emotions, tensions and anxieties.
How to Get Motivated to Exercise
Here are 7 practical steps that can help you get motivated to exercise:
- Don’t let the word “exercise” scare you. Exercise doesn’t mean running a marathon or spending countless hours at the gym. Anything that gets you off the couch and moving is exercise that can help improve your mood. Be creative and find something you enjoy doing! If you’re participating in an exercise routine that you absolutely loathe, it’s almost guaranteed you won’t stay consistent. Perhaps you enjoy swimming, bike riding, horseback riding, bowling, etc.
- The key is start out slowly and set small, realistic and measurable goals. Be sure to write down your goals on a sheet of paper and keep track of your progress. Examples include: I will walk for 20 minutes, four days per week; I will join a bowling league and bowl at least two games per week; I will get a 30-minute exercise video (or find one for free on YouTube) and perform this three days per week.
- Take a B-complex vitamin one hour before your exercise routine. You can also drink a cup of green tea. The reason for this is twofold: First, B-vitamins and green tea will provide you an extra boost of energy that can help motivate you to get out and get going. Second, green tea will help enhance your metabolism as well as increase your endorphins so you can get the most out of your workout.
- You don’t even have to do your exercises all at once. If you can take 5 to 10 minute “breaks” of exercising a few days a week, it will help tremendously. You can also incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Park farther from the entrance at work or the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for 5 minute walks several times per day, or do a fun game that involves physical activity such as playing hide and seek with your children or grandchildren. If you choose this type of exercise, you still need to keep track of the time on paper so you can monitor your progress. Set a goal to do 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three to five times per week.
- If you have problems with insomnia, know that exercising within five hours of bedtime may further interrupt your sleep since exercise will stimulate your endorphins. If falling and staying asleep are a problem for you, try to exercise in the morning or afternoon.
- Get support from a friend. Find a friend who will motivate you, and if possible, workout with you. Make a set schedule of your workout times together and hold each other accountable.
- Last, be sure to reward yourself! After tracking your progress each month, reward your good efforts. If a friend is working out with you, perhaps the two of you can claim your reward together – go to a movie, go shopping for a new outfit, or whatever it is you enjoy. And, if you’ve been wondering how to get motivated to exercise, remember the biggest reward is you will start feeling and looking better, and you will improve your health both now and in the future. So, ensure quality time with your friends and loved ones and get moving!
Have you tried these or other tips to motivate yourself to exercise? If so, tell us about it by leaving a comment below. Let’s inspire each other to get healthy!
Originally published on August 3, 2012.