We all know how important staying active is, especially at the moment with a third of the world’s population confined indoors for most, if not all, of the day, but it’s easier said than done. Conceptually it’s easy to appreciate that regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, but when it comes to actually keep active most of us find it difficult to motivate ourselves.
It’s no surprise really: the less active you are, the harder exercising is, and the less likely you’ll want to do it. Luckily that means you just have to get over the initial hump before the regular exercise becomes part of your routine. With that in mind, here are a few ways to motivate yourself to exercise and stay active.
Set A Goal
Rather than the conceptual aspiration to “be more healthy” or “lose weight,” set yourself a specific and realistically achievable goal to aim towards with your exercise. It often helps if these are small scalable goals that you can achieve in the short to mid-term: for example, “run 5k this week” or “do 10 pushups today”. These can then accumulate to larger goals like “run 20k this month” or “do 50 pushups this week”.
Make sure you plan these in accordance with your current fitness level. Setting out to do 50 sit-ups when you can barely do 5 is only going to demotivate you and discourage you from trying. Instead, aim to make goals just above what you’re currently able to achieve. If you can comfortably cycle 10k, aim to cycle 15k. This will give you a continuing sense of achievement and help you stay motivated.
Make A Plan
Once you’ve got goals you’re looking to achieve, it’s time to develop a training plan that can keep you on track to that goal. Often exercise is challenging because we don’t know where to start. Thankfully there are dozens of trainers and workout specialists who are now sharing their at-home workouts that require little to no equipment, like this one from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Making a plan is also a great way to commit to regular exercise. It’s easy to wait until inspiration strikes you, but is this really going to keep you active? Better to say at the beginning of the week that you plan to go for a run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or you’re going to do 30 minutes of yoga before breakfast every morning. Little and often is the key, then build up from there.
Don’t Overdo It
One surefire way to kill your exercise routine is by pushing yourself too hard. I understand it’s tempting to want to launch yourself into a new hobby, but pushing your exercise goals too much in the early stages will discourage you from exercising at all, or worse, may cause you serious injury.
This is why small goals, achieve little and often, are the way forward. Also, listen to your body. If you’re feeling sore from a previous day’s exercise, give it time to recover before you throw yourself back in. The aim is for exercise to be pleasurable, not a chore you have to complete.
Recognize Your Progress
A great way to motivate yourself is keeping track of your progress to prove to yourself that you’re improving. Most of the time this is a countable figure — you could do 10 pull-ups, to begin with, now you can do 30 — and no matter how small the improvement it’s important to recognise yourself for it.
And treat yourself! You’re doing a really good job by even setting out towards your goals, no matter where you are along the way, you deserve a reward. You can allow yourself an unhealthy treat once a week, as long as it’s in moderation, but also think of relaxing activities as rewards, like a bath with scented candles, playing video games or meditating.
No matter where you are in your fitness capabilities, be kind to yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard, or beat yourself up for not being where you need to be. You’re getting healthy, be proud of that fact and enjoy yourself!
Michael Dehoyos is a content marketer and editor at PhD Kingdom and Academic Brits. He assists companies in developing their marketing strategies, and his a physical trainer in his spare time.