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Fitness can improve your daily life in numerous ways, and you already know how being more active could help you. Here’s how real people on normal days find inspiration to exercise, even when they don’t feel like it.
Getting started is the hardest part. Everyone has a favorite excuse about exercise. Keeping at it, or being consistent as an active person, is also difficult. It’s hard to do things we do not like to do for abstract benefits that are far off and unfamiliar.
1. Choose a form of exercise you truly like. If you feel like the activity is a form of punishment, it’s not the right option for you, and I don’t care what your sister says. Studies show that that when women try to commit to a long-term exercise habit, how much they enjoy it is a very strong predictor of whether they’ll stick with it—and whether they will keep off any weight lost while doing it—in the future.
2. Make it non-negotiable. It takes time to build a habit that is firmly connected to the rest of our daily living. Real people on normal days have all kinds of ways they can remember to do stuff that is important to them (and to others). When we connect our exercise habit to something specific that already happens every day—like brushing our teeth—we can stop thinking about whether or not we will follow through. You can connect your exercise habit to cues in your environment, and this kind of automatic “decision made”reality will help you behave in ways you know are best.
3. Meet a friend for a walk instead of a glass of wine. Working out with a friend will keep you accountable, since no one wants to disappoint a pal. Adding another activity to the busy schedule you and your friend have isn’t the answer. Rethink where you and this friend meet up. Switch out your habit regarding that monthly movie date and explore new walking paths instead. Physical movement is a way to connect with others that will bring relationship rewards as well as physical health benefits.
4. Add a friendly competition to the mix. When we have the opportunity to show others how hard we can try to accomplish new things, like lifting a 10-pound bar over our heads, we are taking advantage of group dynamics. Everyone can get some encouraging pats on the back as they are influenced by their fellow group members to participate fully. Gathering with those of similar interests and backgrounds creates a mutual incentive to do our best.
Not everyone is a born athlete or cares to become an athlete. If you are trying your best to add 150 minutes or more of exercise to your normal days as an example of self-love, it’s okay to show up and simply do your best. As you find forms of activity that interest you, you just might find others who share your interests, and you can master the “hardest parts” of being motivated—even when you don’t feel like it.