As we discussed in a recent blog, exercise is one of the single best things you can do for your mind and body. But knowing that exercise can make a big difference in your life and actually acting on that knowledge are two very different things. Put simply, motivating yourself to exercise isn’t always easy. Some days it’s the very last thing you want to do!
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 motivation hacks to get you up and moving:
Notes to Self
A simple but effective motivation technique is writing to your future self directly after each session. Exercise releases endorphins, giving you an immediate, natural high. So the words you write, giddily describing the sense of achievement and pride you feel, can serve as a great inspiration to get your running shoes on next time. Alternatively, if you skip a session, take the time to write how that feels at the end of the day. Chances are: not that great. The contrast between these two reports should serve an even more effective reminder of why you should exercise even when you can’t be bothered.
Finding (or forming) a community of people who want to exercise is a tried and true way of exercising more. This turns an oftentimes lonesome activity into something fun you do with others, and your partners will motivate you when you aren’t in the mood. Even having just one or two other people will make a big difference. What’s more, it’s smart time-management: you get your social fix while you exercise.
This is a great variation on the community tip: one of the very best ways to motivate yourself to exercise is by turning it into a competition. All you need is a group of willing people. The nature of the competition is entirely up to you: who can walk the most steps in a week, who goes to the gym the most, who cycles the furthest… anything. It can be for money, bragging rights or whatever you think up. If you’re a competitive person, just the thought of winning or losing may provide a strong incentive to get going on those days where you just want to stay at home.
If you want to motivate yourself to exercise, getting enough sleep is essential. Getting enough sleep is essential if you want to do anything, really. In a research study by New York City university professor Mindy Engle-Freidman, she notes that “sleep loss impacts the effort-related choices we make.” In other words, you’re much less likely to follow up on your exercise routine if you don’t get adequate rest. So, try to make sure you’re getting a full night of sleep; it’s not always easy, we know. But it could be easier – regular exercise improves the quality of your sleep! In fact, the US National Sleep Foundation cites exercise as “a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep.” Not bad, huh?
Track Your Progress
This is really basic, but it’s important. Try to exercise in such a way that you can measure your improvement, and then measure it. Write it all down. Put it in a graph if it makes you feel good! Seeing your progress is a wonderful reward in itself, but it’ll also motivate you when you’re not feeling up to it on a lazy day.
One of the more unconventional (but effective!) ways of finding motivation to exercise is through charity. There is a website called Stickk, where you can pledge to give a minimum of $5 to a charity or an individual you like if you meet your goal – thereby combining your aerobic ambitions with your altruistic impulses. Not a fan of altruism? You can even arrange to donate money to a charity or individual you dislike if you fall short of your goals!
Make A Workout Playlist
Music can be a great motivator. Even when you’re at your least motivated, the right song can really pump you up. Find a bunch of songs that energise you and put them all in a playlist. Just listening to that playlist on a lazy day can make all the difference. Try to change the songs every few weeks, however – they can lose their power if you rely on them too much.
Create a Warm-Up Routine
A warm up is important if you want to minimise injuries (which are incredibly demotivating!), plus it’s a great way to get yourself in the mindset for exercise. Often just going through the motions of stretching – something that is far easier to commit to than the exercise itself – will make the prospect of that exercise less daunting. Once you’re limber the next step is an easy one to take. Combine this with your workout playlist for best effect!
Put your exercise gear in plain sight
Your brain responds to visual cues. Put your exercise gear in plain sight – folded and ready somewhere where you can’t help but notice it. Once noticed, it’ll be on your mind and you’re more likely to follow through on your intention to exercise. If you don’t you’ll either have to see it all day, or go through the embarrassing motions of quietly packing it all away.
Get to where you need to go
Need to pick up something from the store? Is work within biking distance? How about the children’s school? Look for opportunities to exercise that also help you get to where you need to be. This makes exercise time-efficient, climate-friendly and useful – you’ve got to get there anyway. This option is perfect for people who are busy morning till night.
Put these techniques into practice and we’re sure you won’t have any problems making exercise a regular fixture in your life. Do you have any other tips that help you follow through? Let us know in the comments. Good luck!