7 ways to stay motivated to exercise
You've been told the benefits of exercise a thousand times and you know what you should be doing, but it can be so easy to find excuses. 'I'm comfortable on the sofa', 'My favourite TV programme is on', or 'It looks so cold outside'.
We've heard them all before, so how do you get (and keep) the motivation to get up and exercise regularly?
Leading a busy life, it can be hard to think there is room to fit in daily exercise. Make exercise a priority and plan it into your daily routine. Don't make it optional. It also helps to plan exercise when you're more likely to enjoy it. For example, if you find it hard to get out of bed in the mornings at the best of times, don't try and exercise in the mornings. Try your lunch break or after work.
Get your gear on.
The first step (and often the hardest is just putting on your shoes and exercise gear). Once they're on, it's much easier to get going. Even better, treat yourself to something new. It's surprising how a new pair of running shoes, item of clothing, or new gadget can encourage you to 'try them out'. Plus you look good and feel good!
Variety is essential.
Change your running route, try cycling instead, or swim in an outdoor pool instead of indoors. Keep it interesting by changing parts of your workout so you don't get bored. The gym can quickly become a sterile environment, so if you're a gym go-er, throw in the occasional outdoor session.
Make it social.
Exercise with friends, have a laugh and you'll keep each other motivated. They offer you support, can give positive feedback and make it fun! Alternatively, try group fitness classes or join a local team. If you thrive on competition, team sports are great. As is exercising with someone who's slightly better than you so you are always are pushing yourself to keep up.
The art of distraction.
Exercising to music or while chatting to friends keeps you distracted. You may just find yourself exercising for longer or finishing quicker than you thought. If you're at home, try exercising while watching TV or during the ad break.
Have realistic goals.
You may not be planning to run a marathon, but it's important to have goals and put them into practice to keep yourself motivated along the way. But be realistic! Don't set them too far above your level that you'll never achieve them. Write them down and remember to review them regularly as your fitness improves.
Don't forget to reward yourself.
It could be running an extra mile or losing a couple of pounds, but as you reach your personal goals and are happy with your performance, reward yourself. You might give yourself a day off or buy a new pair of jeans. Be proud of yourself.
Always remember the feeling you get after exercise – endorphins flying around your body, you feel healthy and pleased with yourself. Next time you're thinking of skipping a session, remember this feeling and get exercising!