Exercise isn’t just important for a healthy mind and body. It’s essential.
We all know this. We all know that a daily dose of exercise and fresh air helps us to manage stress and to maintain a healthy weight. Experts say it helps us sleep better, keeps our hearts and lungs healthier and can even help us live longer.
Yet it can be ridiculously hard, some days, to put on our workout shoes and just go.
Here are a few exercise motivation tips that work for me and my most active and motivated friends:
1. The number one, primary, absolutely most important thing: Find something you love to do. Not just something you can learn to like if you try hard enough, but something that you can actually, genuinely, sincerely look forward to.
If you hate running, don’t run. A couple of my friends, who thought they disliked all forms of exercise, have fallen in love with bellydancing. Others love Zumba, which you can do either in a studio or at home with a DVD. Or maybe you’re a swimmer, or maybe – like me – you’re a hiker.
Or maybe there’s something you can add to the experience that will make it more enjoyable for you. I have a friend who doesn’t like any exercise very much at all, but she loves to listen to audiobooks as she walks. She downloads a good book and puts in a few miles each day. Now she has come to crave, each day, the time she spends alone with her book and the changing scenery.
Once you find that special exercise that you personally love to engage in, begin to think of the time you spend doing it each day as a gift you give to yourself. Think of it as a “time out” from your otherwise crazy world.
2. Don’t think about your workout too much. Just go. It’s important to have a regular time each day blocked out for your workout. Then simply put on your shoes. And go.
Sometimes it helps me to play a little mind game. I say, “I’m only going to go for 10 minutes today. If I still want to come home in 10 minutes, I will.” After 10 minutes, I almost never want to cut my workout short. The difficulty lies in getting over that initial hump, that initial feeling of resistance. Most of the time, if you can get yourself out the door, you’re going to have a great workout.
3. Get a dog. Recent studies have shown that dog owners get out and get more exercise than people who don’t have dogs. The more active the breed, the more exercise you’ll get. If you come home from work and your dog is looking at you with those giant, mopey puppy dog eyes and then proceeds to leap at you until you get the leash, you’re probably going to take that dog out for a walk, even if it’s the last thing on earth you wanted to do. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying yourself, too.
4. Ask a friend to join you. I get together with friends to workout at least two days a week. We challenge each other to go faster, and I nearly always find that I work out longer when I’m with a friend than when I go solo.
5. Keep an exercise log, so you can pat yourself on the back. Do so regularly. If you are exercising for weight loss, make sure you keep a tally on those results, too. But it’s just as important to have physical proof that you laced up those shoes and got moving. See how motivated you’ve been?
Exercise Motivation Quotes
Here are of my favorite exercise motivation quotes to keep you going:
“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley
“There’s no easy way out. If there were, I would have bought it. And believe me, it would be one of my favorite things!” – Oprah Winfrey
“Unless you puke, faint or die, keep going!” – Jillian Michaels
And, finally, here’s a bit of a softer approach, from Winnie the Pooh, who is, after all, famous for his “stoutness exercises”:
“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.” – A.A. Milne