Do you want to be in better shape, to have more energy or a better body? Do you struggle making exercise a regular part of your life? Lack of motivation and time constraints make incorporating exercise into our everyday lives difficult in the information age. Everyone knows they should exercise, yet the vast majority of us fail to workout on a regular basis. Here, we explore some of the benefits of exercise and how to motivate you to make it a routine part of your day.
The biggest factor preventing us from exercising regularly is motivation. Wanting to exercise is not enough – you have to be motivated enough to perform your workout day in and day out. Fitness is a goal that requires a regular commitment; the journey from wanting to be fit to actually attaining a respectable level of fitness can be a long one. However, with the proper motivation, it is a journey everyone can make.
Understanding the benefits of exercise is a major motivator. Thinking about the benefits you derive from an increased level of fitness will motivate you to begin your workout routine. Some of the major benefits of exercise are outlined below:
Weight control – reduced caloric intake combined with increased metabolic effects will help you lose weight (or be able to eat more!)
Stronger muscles – muscle burns more calories than fat. By exercising, and increasing your muscle to fat ratio, you will burn more calories even sitting around doing nothing! In addition, loss of muscle is a regular part of the aging process. Adding a strength workout to your fitness routine stems the muscle loss everyone experiences as they grow older
Stronger bones – incorporating weight bearing exercises (tennis, walking, dancing, jogging, etc.) in your fitness routine will increases bone mass and help strengthen muscles
Less stress – exercise is a proven stress reducer. Those who follow a regular fitness routine have lower levels of stress hormones in their body – reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and lowering your heart rate. These physiological effects alone will help you live a longer, higher-quality life
Improved mood – regular exercise boosts production of serotonin, a chemical the human brain uses to regulate mood and increase happiness. A fitness routine will also increase the endorphin level in your body; a hormone the brain associates with a happy, positive feeling. Exercise is now recognized are a “natural” therapy for mild depression
Increased energy – Regular exercise boosts energy levels and fights fatigue. Instead of taking that afternoon nap, strap on those tennis shoes. You’ll feel better and your body will benefit.
Better immune system – a normal fitness routine stimulates the immune system, increasing the production of white blood cells. This, in turn, helps the body fight off viruses and other infections. Be careful, though… intense exercise has been found to actually make people more vulnerable to illness. Moderate exercise, however, has significant immune-boosting effects.
When contemplating beginning a fitness routine, or trying to muster up the motivation for your daily workout, remembering the benefits of regular exercise should help get you out the door and on your feet.
And even more powerful motivator than just recognition of these benefits is seeing tangible results within your own body. As you begin to workout, and make exercise a regular commitment, you will notice some of the benefits above: increased energy, loss of weight, more strength, etc. Let these results serve as motivators to keep you going!
Keep a fitness log or workout journal. Log all of your fitness activities by day: write down what you did, where you did it, the time it took, how you felt, ending heart rate, etc. As you workout more and more, you will notice improvements in performance, which will motivate you to continue. Reviewing what you’ve done, and recalling your fitness level a week ago, a month ago, even a year ago will encourage you to continue – and to see even further improvement.
Finally, set some goals. Goals will vary depending on the individual, but can be consistent motivators. Maybe your goal is to walk for 30 minutes 3 times a week for a month – or even to run a marathon. Whatever the goal, write it down. Review it. Focus on the goal when you think you lack the energy to perform you regular workout routine.
Good goals adhere to the SMART principle – they are specific, are measurable, are attainable, are realistic, and are timely. Make sure your goals meet these criteria, and you will boost your chances of success.
If you stumble when working toward your goal, do not give up. Remember where you started, and how far you have come since you made your goal. If your goal needs to be revised, that is okay. Revise, again using the SMART principles, and get going again.
To summarize – everyone knows they should incorporate a regular fitness routine into their life. Finding the motivation to do so can be difficult, but there are several techniques you can use:
Understand and recognize the benefits of exercise
Once you start an exercise program, recognize the benefits YOU are receiving. Take note of your energy levels, how you feel mentally and physically. Recognize the benefits you are getting from a regular fitness routine – and that you want those benefits to continue
Keep a fitness log to monitor progress, to take note of the benefits you are receiving from exercise, and to follow your progress in achieving your goals
Set SMART goals for yourself, and reward yourself when you accomplish those
What are you waiting for? Get started today!