Keep motivated to exercise

Keeping motivated to exercise is something we all struggle with from time-to-time.  I find this especially so if I am doing the activity on my own, for example going to the gym. 

Here are some tips to help keep you focussed on putting the time into your health and wellness.

Find something you like and enjoy

Find something you like to do or at least an activity that gives you satisfaction when you have completed it!  If you find something you like, you have a much better chance of sustaining that activity.  I love walking and have been participating in long distance walks for over five years now.  I do not like running, but I do like the park run which is non-competitive and gets me out and about with others. It also gives me a great sense of achievement when I have done it. (Especially if my time has improved!)

What sort of person are  you?

Do you like routine or are you someone who relishes a change?  If you like routine and planning ahead, then scheduling your programme in your diary for a month might be a helpful tool.  If you are not a fan of every week looking the same then you could still plan ahead but mix up your programme, some weeks go for walks, others cycle, others attend a class.  Alternatively put all your exercise options into a hat and pull one out every other day and go for it!

Pay for a class up front 

I pay for my Pilates classes once every six weeks and I find this helps me make the decision to attend, even when I am feeling tired or not really in the mood.

Learn something new 

This is a good way of injecting some mental energy into your exercise routine.  Learning something new is good for your brain and research suggests this is increasingly important as we age.  What haven’t you tried that might be fun?  I hear Rebounder classes (exercising to music on a small trampoline) have been gaining popularity lately!

Exercise with a friend

I walk regularly with a good friend.  It helps that she is also a fast walker but we power away whilst catching up about anything and everything.  Before you know it, you’ve completed a few miles.  Why not ask one of your friends to commit to a month of walking/swimming/running, whatever and agree when you will do it.  Committing to something with someone else means it is much more likely that you will stick to it.

Sign up for challenge

Signing up for challenges is how I got fitter.  Charity events, where you raise sponsorship, are a great way to motivate yourself to improve your fitness level.  Find an event that is challenging for you, but not impossible, you don’t want too much stress thinking you will never achieve it.  It works best if it is some months in the future.  Often the event organisers will send you a training outline to follow.  You can read more about signing up for challenges here.

Set goals and rewards

Setting a goal for yourself is an important psychological tool.  Think of it as a contract with yourself.  If you set a big goal, for say three months time, break that down into mini goals for each week.  You will gain satisfaction on a weekly basis that you have met your smaller goal but still be on track for the bigger one.  When I was training for a long cycle ride I set myself weekly goals to ride a number of miles, working up to 60 miles a day by the end.  Rewards are also incredibly important, be kind to yourself and celebrate your achievement.  This doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money, you might lay in the bath for an hour that evening, or eat a nice meal (preferably cooked by someone else!).  Rewards mean you are likely to keep going if there is something nice to look forward to at the end. 

So if your exercise routine has slipped and you are not feeling motivated to get up and get out there try a few of these tips.  Remember, begin with small steps, as small steps lead to big improvements!