Being active has many benefits, from heart health to sleep quality to brain function, but knowing it’s good for you doesn’t always mean hitting the gym is easy.
If you’re having trouble getting into an exercise routine, check out some proven ways to get off the couch and break a sweat.
DRESS FOR EXERCISE, EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL WITH STRENGTH.
In many ways, donning a sweatshirt or yoga pants is even more important than walking out the door to the gym.
Research has suggested that our brains are susceptible to “covert cognition,” a technical way of saying that dressing for the role can help fuel your ambition to complete a chosen task.
If you put on all your workout clothes, you’re much more likely to walk out the door.
GET INVOLVED WITH A FRIEND.
It can help to have a responsibility partner, so make plans to do a joint workout with a friend.
Feeling like someone else is counting on you will make it less likely that you will skip the session.
Best of all, watching your friend perform – running a longer distance or lifting heavier weights – can also give you the motivation to push yourself, and you can share tips and celebrate each other’s progress.
MAKE A PLAN.
If you just want to be active, there is nothing wrong with going to a gym and investing time in whatever equipment or activity you feel like.
But the downside to those aimless visits is that by skipping them you don’t feel like you’re impeding progress toward a goal.
After a period of break-in, it’s best to envision a goal line – losing weight, building endurance, adding muscle, or a mix of each – and focusing your energy on working toward it.
If you wake up early in the morning and head to the gym before starting the day, you will have successfully avoided the eight or ten hours that you could convince yourself not to go.
Exercising can give you a lot of energy, making it an ideal morning routine, but if you wait, you might feel too tired to go.
Getting out of bed can be difficult those first few mornings, but once you’ve established a rhythm, you’ll be glad you did.
CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE.
Even if you are an animal of habit, repeating the same exercises over and over again can be monotonous.
To avoid boredom, try changing the order of them or replacing them with alternative ones: an incline bench press, for example, instead of a flat one.
By changing things up, you will keep both your body and mind involved in the activity. And you can always go back to your usual routine later.
Visualization is an athletic tool that has been used for decades.
By closing our eyes and imagining what it would look and feel like to achieve a goal or complete an exercise, we can prepare ourselves physically and psychologically for the task at hand.
If you’re shuffling or considering skipping a workout, try sitting for a few minutes to visualize how you would feel if you went to the gym and how it would bring you one step closer to your goal.
DO NOT OVERDO IT.
Having goals, even if they are high, is the key to whatever you want to achieve in life.
But if you decide you want to have the proportions of a fitness model by August or go from a 5K to a three-hour marathon time, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.
Make sure the bar is achievable – even if it’s aiming for just 15 minutes by bike – so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Don’t forget to celebrate the little milestones along the way!
GET RID OF OBSTACLES.
There may be something preventing you from going to the gym.
Is the coffee pot not working, depriving you of the crucial caffeine shot you like before training?
You don’t like the location of your gym or its fitness class instructors? Don’t wait until you can use obstacles to excuse a missed session.
Take steps to solve the problem so that you have a clear and unobstructed path to your goals.
CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITY OF HIRING A COACH.
Certified fitness instructors add to the cost of your training, but they can also add a lot of tangible value.
An expert can design a program based on your goals, teach you how to use the equipment, and give you advice on nutrition.
You may not need their help for a long time, but keeping them in mind as you get started could force you to stick with it.
RECORD YOUR WORKOUTS.
By tracking distances, weights, and other target milestones on your fitness journey, you’ll be able to see your progress on paper.
That record can be very helpful when you feel down or lethargic. Referencing a time when you could only run a half mile, for example, might motivate you to stick with it because now you’re used to running two or three.