We all know how frustrating it can be to see exercise as a chore. You decide to get fit, and for the first weeks or even months, you can be really into it. You splash your money on some new workout gear, join the trendiest new class and set your own workout schedule. But, as it tends to, life gets in the way! You might have too many glasses of wine one night, so you skip your morning workout. You might have to give up a few workouts here and there due to work meetings or family commitments. Eventually, exercise will take a backseat to the rest of your life and end up seeming like a chore – something you ‘have’ to do rather than ‘want’ to do.
To really build a long-term exercise habit and make fitness a part of your life, you need to find a way to love it! If you enjoy doing something, you’ll actually be motivated to do it. Prioritising your health is super important no matter your age, and it’s never too late to do it! So, how exactly do you fall in love with fitness?
Positive motivation and reinforcement are key here, as you don’t want to be motivated by the negative. For example, fearing you’ll look bad without exercise, or feeling you must exercise for somebody else’s benefit. Using reasons like these to motivate yourself will always end in burnout! Instead, think of the positives associated with exercise, and specifically the positives that are unique to you.
Without getting too deep into the Psychology behind exercise behaviour (if that’s your thing though, you can read about it here!), positive reinforcement is an important aspect in your motivation to exercise. If your brain links the stimulus of exercise with positive feelings, your motivation to exercise will be higher than ever!
There are lots of positive aspects to exercising – way too many to list – but we’ll give you a few of the best ones below, to get the ball rolling:
- Alleviates stress
- Helps back pain
- Makes you feel energised
- Enhances mood
- Lowers blood pressure
- Confidence Boost
Go for Goldilocks
Not too much, but not too little! It makes sense to start slow if you’re new to exercise or returning after an injury or long break. Yoga or walking may not have you shedding the pounds, but low-intensity workouts like these are still exercise! You shouldn’t feel bad about easing yourself in if you need to, but that doesn’t mean you should take the ‘easy route’. Some websites would have you believe that working out for 20 minutes a week is good enough, but you’re unlikely to reap the positive benefits you want out of exercise in only 20 minutes! In the same way, you shouldn’t overdo it – you may start exercising and gain lots of positive reinforcement, but that doesn’t mean you have to workout every day all week. Overdoing it can cause you to burn out or even injure yourself, which are the ultimate forms of negative reinforcement, and will only lessen your motivation to work out.
It sounds like the most obvious thing in the world – find an exercise you actually enjoy! Lots of people get bogged down in doing the latest exercise fad, or with exercise that’s easy but not enjoyable. There are tons of ways to exercise, so take some time to think what would be perfect for you and experiment until you find something you really enjoy doing. Into dance? Try a Zumba or Barre class. Love being in nature? Take up hiking or cycling. You can also keep your routine fresh by changing up which workouts you do every week. You may enjoy swimming, but you’ll likely get bored of it if you only ever do that. Feeling like some ‘me’ time? Go for a solo run. Wanting to be social? Head to a group class or find some workout buddies. The last tip – don’t feel too constrained by your workout routine. If you usually head to the gym on Wednesdays, but you’re not feeling energetic enough, take a yoga class instead. If you usually run with friends, but you’re not feeling social enough, head out on a solo run to clear your head.
How did you fall in love with exercise? How do you keep your fitness regime fresh? Let us know in the comments!