So you want to get fitter? Something that most of us strive for. But living in the hectic 21st century can make it a challenge to not only find time to squeeze in some regular exercise but finding the motivation to do so is something many people struggle with.
It’s not so much about starting a fitness regime, it’s actually about managing to keep it up. How many of us begin with the best of intentions, only for it to drop off after a few weeks. The trick is to make exercise a way of life, instead of something that you simply ‘fit in’ when possible.
So when it feels like heading to the gym, out for a walk, run, or whatever is just too much like hard work, consider the following to give you real fitness motivation.
Ditch the boredom factor
Let’s face it, many types of exercise are boring. Fed up with going for a run? Tired of swimming? And the dreary drudge of walking or running the treadmill road to nowhere is enough to make anyone reach for the cookie jar… What you need to do is to alternate the type of exercise you carry out. In addition, you need to make exercise part of your daily routine.
For example, if you’ve got a dog, don’t ‘just’ take him or her for a walk. Try adding some short bursts of jogging or running into your stroll. If you throw a ball, chase after your dog as he runs for it. Pick up his stick and run away, letting him chase you… You get the picture.
If you’re bored of whatever exercise you usually do, then do something different. Instead of your gym class, go for a swim. Rather than doing endless cardio, lift some weights. In fact, if weight loss is your goal, it’s actually more beneficial to work on your strength training, due to the much longer post-workout metabolic burn that occurs. And ladies, don’t think that lifting weights will make you bulk up – that’s simply a myth. But increasing your muscle mass will see the fat drop off far quicker than simply doing boring cardio work.
Do gym quality workouts at home
There are thousands of home workout programs available. But one of the best out there is Les Mills – an online library of gym quality workouts such as Body Combat, HIIT, Body Pump and others that the company’s famous for.
It’s just like joining in a real class – except you don’t need to bother leaving the comfort of your own home. And with workouts ranging from 20 minutes to an hour, you don’t even need to put aside a huge amount of time to do them. And you’ll feel great afterwards, one of the best fitness motivations of all.
Track your progress
There are many apps and gizmos that you can use to track your daily progress. Fitbit, Jawbone, the Apple Watch… All will let you know the amount of steps you take, calories burnt, minutes of exercise, heart rate etc. Having such a product really can give you the boost you need to do just that little bit more. And with current recommendations saying we should aim for at least 10,000 steps per day, having that figure in front of your eyes (plus, with many products giving you a handy nudge if you’re slacking) can really give you the motivation to get out there and do that little bit more.
Little and often
“I haven’t got the time’ is one common reason for lapsing on your exercise. But contrary to what many people think, you don’t need to commit to an hour or so for each session. In fact, it can even more beneficial to carry out multiple short workouts than a single long one.
So if you can only spare 10 or 15 minutes to concentrate on your fitness goals, then that’s fine. It’s all about actually doing exercise on a regular basis, rather than simply thinking about it and not carrying it out.
Make day to day activities a workout
This is one of the easiest things to build into your everyday life. Need to go to the fourth floor? Forget the elevator – take the stairs. And if you can run up them instead of walk, then so much the better. Taking the subway on your daily commute? Get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way. Bending down to pick something off the floor? Make it a squat (or a lunge). You get the picture… It’s all about being inventive.
Challenge yourself – but make it achievable
Tell yourself that you’re going to carry out just a tiny amount of exercise per day in a way that you can see improvement. For example, start with trying to do a single press up when you get up each morning. (If you can’t manage a full press up, begin on your knees). Do that for a few days, then up it to two. Then three… Then four… Before you know it you’ll be knocking out 20 press ups in a row. Feeling yourself getting stronger is a huge fitness motivation.
When you’re too tired, just go for a walk
We all know that ‘too shattered to exercise’ feeling. Instead of feeling bad that you failed to go to the gym, just leave the house and go for a quick walk. Even 15 minutes in the fresh air adds up – and it’ll make you feel a lot better as well. Once you’ve sloped along for the first five minutes, up the pace to a brisk walk. Not only will you burn some calories, but there are loads of other health benefits gained from just a short amount of walking.
Try and find a friend who’ll exercise with you. Doing such an activity in company is a) likely to make you workout that bit harder, and b) give you that boost to actually get out there during the times you simply wouldn’t bother if it was just you on your own.