- Brian Tully, MS, EP-C
Motivation for Exercise
(As seen in Leland Magazine)
As we all know exercise can provide many health benefits. It can also give you a sense of accomplishment. But finding the motivation to start exercising and stick with it can sometimes be daunting.
Even though exercise can be a hard routine to establish for yourself, it is possible if you are willing to change your focus and set your self up for success. Here a several ways to help get you on the right track and stay there.
Remember the Benefits
Many of us start an exercise program for the visual benefits of losing weight and improved muscle tone. We easily lose sight of the numerous other benefits associated with exercise. Your scale should not be your only measure of success. It can take a while for scale weight and muscle tone to change. Instead remember that exercise is also helping mental health, functional capacity of daily activities, improved heart health, and decreased risk of cancer and other disease. If done long term, exercise can even cut your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Exercise also helps to relieve stress and improve your mood. Next time you are going to workout, take note of your mood before and then after your workout session. That positive and energized feeling that you get following your workout is something to focus on to help bring you back for your next workout. Many of us get stuck in that feeling before the workout, when we find a way to validate the drained energy levels to talk us out of the workout. Do the workout and recharge.
You will also improve your quality of sleep. Ever have those nights where you can’t fall asleep, or maybe you fall asleep quickly but don’t stay asleep for long. A good exercise program will help you get better sleep…and the benefits of good sleep are tremendous to your overall health.
Ask yourself honestly, where does your health fall on your priority list. If you can easily list things that come ahead of your health, you may need to consider all the benefits mentioned in the previous section and focus on moving it up the list. We make time for the things that we consider important. If it is important we find a way, if not we find an excuse.
Make an appointment on your calendar for your exercise sessions. Treat it like you would treat an appointment with your doctor or lunch with a friend. Stick to the committed appointment.
Change your inner voice. Try saying “I get to go workout now” instead of “I have to go workout now”. A positive phrasing can change your whole energy toward it.
First, you must start by setting yourself up for success. Make your goals attainable. If you aren’t working out at all right now, don’t decide to start working out for an hour a day every day. Do what you believe you can do and build from there. That may be 20 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That works out to 60 more minutes of exercise than the week before. Keep track of what you accomplished and build on that. Each small victory adds up, but without tracking you may miss the little motivational wins that will help keep on track.
Be sure to keep track of the workouts or exercises that you enjoy doing. If walking on the treadmill for an hour bores you or lifting free weights in a gym makes you cringe, consider other options for getting your exercise in. If you hate the mode it will make it that much harder to do it. Find exercise modes that leave you feeling energized and accomplished. It will always be so much easier to go back for more of those sessions.
Connect with Others
Find others with similar goals either online or in-person. By joining an online group or getting one or two workout partners, you have others going through the same struggles right there with you; and you can support each other to stay on track for the long haul. It can also make the workout more fun.
You can even connect with a personal trainer to help you define the right plan for you. They will keep you accountable, motivated, and on track.
Be sure to revisit this article when you feel your motivation waning. Just one of the above tips can get you right back on track. But even if you have to do a complete mental re-boot to implement all the items, it is well worth it. Staying physically active leads to living a longer and healthier life; invest in your health, your body and mind will thank you.
If you have additional questions regarding this month's article or have a topic you would like to see covered in future articles, please reach out to me via email.