- Why exercising regularly is important
- How to motivate yourself to exercise regularly
- Examples of reward systems for exercising
- What does a healthy, balanced diet include?
- Different ways to track fitness progress
Fitness Essentials: Tips To Motivate Yourself To Exercise Regularly
It has long been established that exercising regularly is good for your overall health, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. You know it’s good for you. The problem is you don’t have the motivation to actually do it.
In this guide, we’ll help you discover and cultivate your self-motivation to exercise regularly, so you can achieve your fitness goals, maintain a healthy body, and boost your self-confidence.
Why Exercising Regularly Is Important
Exercising regularly is more important than you think. It goes beyond addressing weight loss. According to an article published by Harvard Health Publishing, at a glance, exercising regularly can reduce the risks of getting cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and various forms of cancer. Beyond your physical health, it can also ultimately improve your mood and mental functioning.
In a nutshell, exercising regularly can improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It is vital for an individual to meet the minimum threshold for good health, and it all starts with exercise.
How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise Regularly
There are many factors that can affect your motivation to exercise regularly. They can be lack of time, boredom, lack of focus, or tiredness. But most of the time, they’re just personal excuses. Let’s help you nip these excuses in the bud and get you in the right direction with these tips.
Set a Realistic Goal
Set a realistic goal for yourself, and start slowly. In this way, you can push yourself to start from somewhere, mark every milestone, and end with a satisfying result. Goal-setting is a proven technique in achieving goals, proved by one study from the Michigan State University Extension.
“Setting and attaining goals is an important step in achieving success academically, in the working world and life in general…Writing down your goals, committing to action steps, and developing a support network dramatically increases success in attaining them,” said the study.
It is advisable to exercise regularly for as long as you’re able, so consider aiming for something as you do it time and time again, such as weight loss, body toning, or strength training. Create a checklist and write down your goals. Crossing them out one by one can surely motivate you to exercise regularly.
Make a Schedule
Ideally, it’s best to make exercise part of your daily routine. In that way, you can easily ease into it, slowly increase your pace, and gradually widen your goals. Schedule at least 30 minutes of easy to moderate physical activity a day, then gradually increase the duration and the level of activity as you get used to the routine. If your goal is to lose weight or achieve a fitness goal, however, you may want to exercise more.
Suppose you don’t have the time for a daily exercise routine. In that case, you can always incorporate alternative physical activities into your daily schedule to compensate for your time away from the gym or your missed at-home workouts. You can take long walks from home to work or take the stairs daily instead of using elevators and escalators. Find easy to moderate physical activities to incorporate into your daily routine. And as much as you can, avoid sitting long hours a day at work or at home. Research shows that sitting for prolonged periods daily can compromise metabolic health.
Join a Fitness Group or Community
Find people of the same wavelength by joining fitness communities or building a small group with your friends and relatives. These people can help discipline you and the group itself. They can be your source of motivation or inspiration.
A study published in the National Library of Medicine in the United States revealed the benefits of recruiting participants in increasing social support for weight loss and maintenance. Considering two experiments, it found that “participants recruited with friends had greater weight losses at the end of the 4-month treatment and at Month 10 follow-up. Both recruitment strategy and the social support manipulation affected treatment completion and weight-loss maintenance.”
Exercising with groups or with a friend can solidify your commitment to your goals, gain a competitive edge, and diversify your workout activities. Everyone in the group can motivate each other and come up with a single goal.
Think About the Emotional and Mental Benefits
As mentioned in the previous article we cited from Harvard Health Publishing, exercising regularly also offers mental and emotional benefits. Your physical well-being should not be your only concern. So aside from weight loss or weight maintenance, think about how exercising regularly can reduce stress, improve your sleep cycle, boost self-confidence, alleviate anxiety, and develop personal relationships.
In some cases, exercising regularly also helped people battling depression and addiction. A story and research from Harvard Health Publishing and a piece of advice from the Mental Health Foundation in the UK proved that doing regular physical activities can help manage depression and conquer addiction.
Try to Ignore the Scale
If your goal for exercising regularly is to lose weight, try to ignore the scale once in a while. The scale should track your progress, not pressure, frustrate, or discourage you. Also, remember that weights fluctuate from time to time, depending on your habits and activities. So, you won’t often see quick results, despite your initial efforts.
Stepping on the scale can reinforce negative self-worth. It sometimes backfires, especially to people who are pressured easily. Instead of tracking your weight loss, you can focus on your weekly fitness goals instead. Redirecting your attention to other factors in your regular routines can motivate you more than the numbers in your weight scale.
Use a Reward System
The reward system is one of the most indisputable ways to motivate an individual, and this, of course, also works in achieving fitness goals. A study published in the US National Library of Medicine confirmed that even today, “there’s consistent support for a positive relationship between more autonomous forms of motivation and exercise”. The study also revealed that competence satisfaction and more intrinsic motives positively predict exercise participation across various samples and settings.
Considering the effectiveness of a reward system, you can use this strategy to motivate yourself to achieve your fitness goals or simply exercise regularly. To get more positive results, you should consider your preferences when drafting a reward system. Here are some examples:
- Schedule a cheat day – Eat your favorite high-calorie food on your rest day or downtime, but be mindful of your calorie intake.
- Visit a spa or massage center – Rigorous exercise can make your muscles feel stiff for a while. To reward yourself, schedule a relaxation day.
- Buy new clothes – If one of your goals is to lose weight, reward yourself by buying new clothes when you achieve your desired weight.
- Book a weekend getaway – Treat yourself to a vacation once you’ve reached one of your biggest fitness goals. Spending money on real experiences instead of material things offers longer-lasting happiness.
- Go for entertainment rewards – watch a new movie, go to a karaoke bar, book a concert ticket, party with your friends, or binge-watch your favorite TV series on Netflix after a successful and rewarding exercise session.
Change Your Diet
You can improve your fitness journey and motivation to exercise regularly by changing your diet. A healthy, balanced diet can help you achieve the appropriate BMI for your height and age, expedite the realization of your fitness goals, and keep your body more energized and active in every physical activity.
According to the World Health Organization, a healthy diet for adults include the following:
- At least 400 grams or five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, excluding starchy root crops
- Less than 10% of total energy intake from free sugars (any sugar added to food and beverages); Less than 5% intake offers more health benefits
- Less than 30% of total energy intake from fats; unsaturated fats in fish, nuts, olive oil, and the like are preferable to saturated fats primarily found in butter, fatty meats, and palm oil.
- Less than 5 grams or 1 teaspoon of salt per day; iodized salt is preferred
Understandably, many people can’t religiously follow a healthy diet due to social and economic factors, cultural traditions, religious beliefs, and individual preferences. However, aim to consume the appropriate amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients during rigorous physical activities. You can look for alternative food or beverages that contain the same amount of nutrients recommended by health experts to fill up your nutrition gaps.
Incorporate Fun Physical Activities
Admit it, gym or at-home workouts can be boring sometimes, especially if you haven’t found the perfect fitness partner or community yet. To diversify your workouts and make them more fun, find sports and outdoor activities that you may enjoy—join a local volleyball team, schedule a weekly badminton play with your friends, jog in your local park, join a hiking tour, or take online yoga classes. The list is endless; you just have to find an activity that you actually enjoy.
Outdoor activities are sometimes better than gym workouts because they provide more challenges and better training environments, not to mention that most of them are cheaper or completely free of charge. Gym memberships and home fitness equipment can be more expensive.
Remember that exercising regularly shouldn’t be a boring, repetitive routine. You’re more likely to exercise regularly and stick to your goals if you actually enjoy what you’re doing.
Track Your Progress Through Various Means
Tracking your progress is crucial, but again, the scale should not be your only tool to gauge what you’ve achieved. There are various ways to track your progress and motivate yourself to go harder and farther. Here are tools and methods to track the right way:
Maintain a Workout Journal
A workout journal should contain your goals, food intake, insights, and achievements. You can also write down your emotions regarding your workout routines, failures, and accomplishments from time to time. Make it aesthetically pleasing, if you must—buy a cool-looking notebook or make a personalized journal. Writing everything down in your own precious notebook can boost your spirit and help track your prime workout days and downtime.
Take Workout Photos
One of the best ways to actually measure changes in your body while exercising regularly is to take photos. The scale can only tell you how much weight you’ve lost, but it wouldn’t show you how you actually look and feel. Take workout photos weekly, monthly, or after every milestone. You can even post it on social media and share it with your friends.
Do The Clothes Test
If your goal is to lose weight, gain weight, or tone your body, doing the clothes test is a better way to measure your progress and see your achievements than standing on a scale. Wear your fitted clothes before you start exercising regularly and see any changes to your body.
If You Feel Like Quitting, Take a Break
Remove the entire idea of quitting in your mind, and replace it with “pause” or “break”. There will be times when you’ll find it hard to continue or commit yourself to a 30-minute exercise routine a day—and that’s normal. People have daily, unpredictable struggles that may disrupt their routines, but don’t let them linger in your life.
Don’t ever quit just because you can’t attain the goals you set for yourself. Hold on to your exercise sessions a little longer, so it would slowly turn into an actual routine. From time to time, forgive yourself for slacking or for eating your favorite high-calorie food. Building self-discipline takes time. So, take your time, and take every step.
Motivating yourself to exercise regularly is not an easy task, especially if you have a full-time job, a busy business, or a big family. Time can be one of your biggest enemies. The key is to improve your self-discipline first; improving your time management and self-confidence should come next.
Remember that giving up should never be an option. Whenever you feel your motivation slipping, review our tips, read your journal, or re-visit your old workout photos!