By Kate Amos
We all know about the importance of exercise for physical and mental health, but it can be enormously difficult to put on those cycling or running shoes day after day, year after year. Whether you’re a fitness newbie having a hard time getting started or a seasoned vet falling into a rut, here are some tips to help you get motivated:
Create Good Habits
Human beings are creatures of habit, and exercise is no exception to this rule. Research suggests that it takes an average of around 60 days for a new activity to become a habit, but once a new routine is established, it becomes much easier to maintain. Before embarking on a new fitness endeavor, take a few moments to look at your calendar and block out regular periods of time devoted just to exercise, treating it like you would any other appointment. Once this regular date with exercise becomes integrated into your regular weekly routine, you’ll wonder how you could ever have gotten by without it.
Make a Group Effort
Signing up for a group fitness class is another great way to establish a workout habit. In addition to giving you access to expert guidance from a professional, regularly attending a class can also be a fun social experience. If group classes aren’t your thing, set a date with a workout partner. Knowing that they’ll be at the gym waiting for you can be a huge motivation to get out the door even on days when working out is the very last thing you feel like doing.
Establish New Goals
While establishing a solid workout habit is an essential first step towards getting fit, getting too comfortable with your routine can have its drawbacks. Doing the same thing day after day can be mentally tiring, and a lack of variety and new challenges can lead to a lack of progress as you get stuck in a rut or hit a plateau. Setting a new fitness goal is a great way to help you get out of that rut. A great way to set a new goal is with the SMART model (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and timely). Pick a goal that will require some real work, but that is realistic and attainable within a reasonable time frame (generally three to six months). Write down your goal and target date, then work backwards to plan the steps you need to take in order to achieve that goal. Whether that means signing up for a race going after a new speed or power target, targeting a specific goal can inspire you to work harder than you ever thought possible.
Mix in the Fun
In the long run, all of the tips and tricks in the world won’t lead to a sustainable fitness lifestyle if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing (at least most of the time!). If you’re having a hard time getting started or finding yourself stuck in a routine that’s taking you nowhere fast, it might be time to switch it up. Even professional athletes cross-train to improve performance in their main sport. Try out some different activities; you may loathe running, but find that you thrive in a Ugi® class, or that exploring technical trails on a mountain bike is your thing.The best exercise is the one you actually do, and finding joy in your fitness journey is the surest way to maintain the motivation needed to sustain healthy habits not just in preparation for the next bikini season, but for life.What joys have you discovered in your fitness journey? Subscribe for more tips on staying motivated!