Motivating Yourself to Exercise

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Do something today that your future self will thank you for!

Beginning to exercise can seem like a demanding lifestyle change. It’s hard to break old habits and create new ones, especially when the new habits are challenging. Exercise doesn’t have to be hard, but you do need to make space for it in your life. Motivating yourself is the first step.

Exercise needs to be a long term and continuous goal; the World Health Organisation recommends 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. This sounds more intimidating than it actually is; it can be accomplished by exercising thirty minutes for five days a week. However, even this much can be hard to add into your life if it’s a new idea. You can start slow and think about the following ways to motivate yourself. As always, consult a doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.

Think about the Benefits

There are so many physical and psychological benefits to exercising. Everyday tasks can become easier, you can decrease your fall risk, and improve your heart health. Exercise is preventative medicine. Psychologically, exercise is known to improve depression and anxiety symptoms as well as improving your mood. You are doing your current and future self a favour!

Bring a Friend

If you are nervous about starting a new exercise regimen, bringing a friend along with you can make it more fun and keep you accountable. It’s easy to forgive yourself for missing a workout but less easy to explain to your workout buddy why you are skipping. Your friend’s progress might even be motivating for you.

Make it Fun

Exercise is often portrayed as only counting if it is intense and grueling. However, exercise can really just be about being active. You will not continue with exercise if you do not enjoy it. Whatever activity you do should be something you like, whether it be swimming, water aerobics, walking, dancing, exercise classes, you name it! Take some time to think about what you have enjoyed in the past and consider doing some research and trying something new.

Keep your Goals Reasonable

Not achieving your goals can be very frustrating. An easy way to prevent this is to use reachable, motivating goals. Goals should be specific, measurable, and attainable. Specific means that the goal is not too complicated. Goals should be just one thing, such as “I will exercise three times this week” not “I want to exercise more”. You should also be able to measure your progress and completion of the goal. For example, “I want to be able to walk for six minutes straight” is a better goal than “I want to walk more easily”. Lastly, if you are just starting to exercise again, maybe running that marathon next month is not attainable. You know yourself, focus on what you think you can actually achieve.

Schedule It

Making time to exercise is hard to do. It helps to plan it in to your schedule ahead of time. Taking time out of your day to be your exercise time can help to make it a positive space instead of a rushed chore.

Let us know in the comments what you do to motivate yourself to start or keep up with an exercise regimen.