So you’ve decided that you want to get out there and become more physically active. A week from now, however, you’re slumped back on the sofa watching television. Don’t feel bad. Half of all people who begin an exercise program drop out within the first six months. So how do you motivate yourself day in and day out? It’s a question researches have been struggling with for decades. While they don’t have any one answer, they do have some suggestions.
Keep reading about the benefits of exercise
It turns out that women who believe in the health benefits of exercise tend to work out more often and more intensely or for longer periods than those with negative thoughts about working out (i.e. “I’ll be sore in the morning.” “It’s too cold to walk.” “I’m too old to lift weights”).
Don’t watch yourself exercise
Stop looking at the mirror and don’t think about the movements, just do them. One study found that women who concentrated on their body movements during exercise tended to exercise less often, less intensely, and/or for less time than women who didn’t.
Switch from negative to positive thinking
For instance, if you hate sweating during exercise, turn it into a positive such as, “Sweating clears toxins from my body and makes my skin look better,” or “The more I sweat, the more my muscles are working.” If you get out of breath when you exercise and perceive it as harmful, you’ll stop, but what if you viewed it as an indication that you’re building endurance? You’d be more likely to continue exercising.
Track your progress
Research finds that you’re more likely to stick with physical activity if you can see or quantify the progress.
Join a class
The socialization that occurs in an exercise class serves as a powerful motivator for anyone of any age. As one women told researchers trying to learn what motivates older people to exercise, “Most of us live alone, so it’s better to come and exercise as a group. I do not do too well at home, as I cheat a little. When I am in a class, I’ve got to keep up. You do not want to cheat with the instructor.”
Set rewards for yourself
Maybe tell yourself that every week in which you complete at least four 30-minute exercise sessions, you’ll treat yourself to a massage or, if you have a certain hobby, like woodworking, you’ll buy a new tool.
Find a caring instructor or personal trainer.
Having someone who knows you and cares about your progress provides a powerful incentive.
Sign a health contract with your doctor
This is a written agreement to accomplish as health goal. In your case, that health goal is to walk 30 minutes a day five days a week. Or to spend 45 minutes two days a week doing resistance training. Or to sign up for a Tai Chi class or a Spinning class. The contract should include a calendar for you to track your progress and to reinforce your commitment.
Tell everyone you know
It turns out that social support for your exercise program keeps you motivated – so call your kids and email the Grand kids, Let your next-door neighbor and the nosy lady at church know that you’re starting a new physical fitness program. They’ll keep asking how you’re doing, and to avoid the embarrassment of telling them you quit, you’ll keep at it.
Sign up for a 5K walk or run two months into the future
Having a goal you’re working toward is one of the best motivators. You can get help training for the event from the internet, books, or your local gym.
The simple truth is: There is no more effective prescription for living a long, healthy life than exercise.
Giving you the most current and up to date advice on living a longer and active life.
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