How Can I Motivate Myself to Exercise?

( [email protected] ) May 02, 2006 01:19 PM EDT

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Structured exercise at home or at a fitness center is not for everyone. Most people enjoy physical movement, especially activities such as hiking, walking or tossing a Frisbee outdoors. Our bodies are designed to move and lack of daily exercise can contribute to a host of diseases states which will eventually sap your energy, harm your health and substantially decrease your quality of life. Summer Fun and Winter Weight. Many people gain weight in the winter and lose weight in the summer. These are the same people who just cannot motivate themselves to exercise in the winter, but who love to be outdoors in the summer. Well, that’s half the battle. As far as I know, scientists have not located the JDLE gene which stands for "just doesn’t like to exercise" gene. Most people like to move and like how exercise makes them feel, but getting started is easy. Yes that is correct, getting started is easy.

Sticking to a program is the challenge. How do we know that getting started is easy? Well, most fitness centers and/or gyms earn approximately 60% of their annual membership sales during the months of January and February. That’s right; most people find it easy to get started and to commit immediately to a program during the start of the year. The gyms are packed and filled with members who have taken the first step. But, by early March, the gyms become deserted and owners look forward to the next New Year bust. We all have weaknesses. Some people put off completing household chores, some leave work to the last minute and some can’t seem to find their exercise groove, or find the groove, but just have a hard time keeping it. There are a few steps you can take to try and motivate yourself.

Step 1: Make Exercise a Choice Free choice — most of us take it for granted.

You can choose where to work, where to play, what to order at a restaurant, which machine to use at the gym and whether or not to hire a personal trainer. Knowing that you should exercise is not enough and thinking about exercising is not going to get you started. You have to make a choice to find time for exercise and to design a regimen that is realistic, manageable and safe.

Step 2: Look at Yourself in the Mirror

Once you make a choice to start a program, take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Who is looking back at you? What are your fears and your weaknesses that always stop you from keeping your exercise goals? Maybe you feel uncomfortable in exercise clothes or confused about what it is that you need to do to get started. Or, you have so many questions such as: What equipment do I need? Should I join a gym? What is the best cardio or resistance training? Don’t waist your time on these issues until you feel comfortable facing them. In other words, just start one thing, whether it means performing a few sets of wall push-ups and crunches in the morning or going for a walk every evening and challenging yourself to climb that last hill. Whatever it is, just make a choice to start exercising and then look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are going to try one thing.

Step 3: Make Sure you Fit the Program Instead of Making the Program Fit You.

Many times people have good intentions. They join a gym and pay the fee because they think this will force them to go to the gym regularly. I’m sorry to say that it won’t motivate you to go to the gym. You should only join a gym if it fits into your schedule. If you only have 30 minutes to work out, but it takes you five minutes to drive to the gym, this means you have only 20 minutes to complete your workout before you rush home stressed because a stop light is out and you are backed up in traffic. In this circumstance, joining a gym is not feasible. Instead, find a gym near work and go during lunchtime or try to rearrange your schedule to find more time to work out after work. Plan your workouts before committing to a membership at a gym. If 30 minutes is all you have regardless of how you juggle your schedule, a home workout may be best for you. If you hate cardio whether or not you are in front of the TV, then try a DVD program or purchase some hand weights and complete some dumbbell exercises. Whatever works for you, choose an activity that you are comfortable with and enjoy and which fits into your schedule easily. Doing something fun and enjoyable, or at the very least, following an exercise routine that is quick (10 to 15 minutes), increases your likelihood of sticking to the program.

Step 4: Exercise with a Friend

Make sure you exercise with a friend who is more motivated than you are to exercise. You want a friend that is going to pass on skipping the workout for a latte or chai tea and who will say, “No, we made an appointment to go to the gym, so we are going to do it!” You can reward yourself, kick back and have a relaxing conversation after the workout. Choose a workout buddy that likes to stick to the plan.

Step 5: Get On-Line

If you are not sure what to do or where to start, access the information highway and get some help. There are many websites available that provide an assortment of information, articles and tips on how to improve your health and fitness. Obviously, I believe that is the world’s largest websites with over 2 million pages of current and relevant health news. The more you understand why you need to exercise and how many variations there are, the more you will feel empowered to move. Also, many research studies have shown that using a web approach to health and fitness information or programming helps participants lose and maintain their weight loss.

Step 6: Don’t Exercise in a Bubble

Whether you are at the gym, at home following an exercise program or at work briskly walking to the train or running up a flight of stairs, your body does not know the difference. So, try not to place your exercise program in a bubble thinking that if you couldn’t complete your structured workout one morning that there is nothing you can do throughout the day. Non-structured exercise such as climbing stairs, walking briskly, performing push-ups against the wall or crunching out 30 abdominal pulses while you are sitting at your desk is still exercise. Try and move as much as you can throughout the entire day. Find what makes you tick and add it to your exercise routine. More importantly, stay away from what ticks you off and you will maintain your motivation to continue to move as often as possible and inherit both the physical and psychological benefits of exercise.

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