Do you just feel too tired to function?
Do you feel like sitting on the couch and relaxing rather than getting your body up and moving?
How do you find motivation to participate in a workout after a long day of work?
A famous quote by Woody Allen puts it all into perspective: “80% of success is showing up.” It does not matter if you work out at a fitness center, the park, in your backyard or on the living room floor. The 80% can be difficult, however, it is possible with a little bit of motivation! Below are 10 tricks that I like to use to motivate myself to stay active regardless of a busy 40-hour work week:
1. Schedule time!
If you feel like you NEVER have the time to work out, you have to learn how to MAKE the time. According to research, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following guidelines:
Aerobic Activity: 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. Guidelines suggest that you should spread out the duration of exercise during the course of a week, equaling 30 minutes a day for 5 days per week. Moderate aerobic exercise can include brisk walking, swimming, riding a bike and/or dancing.
Strength training: Strength training exercises should be done at least twice a week at no specific amount of time interval. Strength training can include weight machines or activities such as rock climbing and/or gardening.
2. Buddy system
The buddy system can be defined as a cooperative arrangement whereby a friend, significant other, and/or trainer teams up with you to assume responsibility. The pair of you operate together in order to monitor and help each other succeed towards your goals. Having a “buddy” will make you more accountable in going to the gym, because they are relying on you to be there! A “buddy” can also be a good motivation when trying to push through difficulty workouts and/or provide encouragement for a JOB WELL DONE!!
3. Positive thinking
Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your overall health! Some studies show that personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. Optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles and are more likely to engage in physical activity and follow a healthy diet. Additional health benefits to thinking positively may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Lower rates of depression and/or stress
- Better coping skills during hardships
- Reduce risk of death from cardiovascular disease
4. Reward yourself
Because, why not reward yourself after a gym session? You have worked so hard, you deserve one! Such examples can include treating yourself to your favorite meal, online/television mental break, and a little retail (controlled) therapy. Bribing yourself to workout is not a bad thing! Just make sure that it is reasonable and in moderation.
5. Never miss a Monday!
The start of the week is actually a great time to recommit to staying fit. According to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, research shows that people tend to think about and act upon being healthy and participate in activities more on Mondays than any other day of the week. Working out on a Monday will also motivate you in setting the tone for the rest of week.
6. Enjoy the activity
Find an activity that you love doing! Exercise should be fun, and if it isn’t then try a different kind of activity that you enjoy. By knowing what you love to do is half the battle in getting yourself to stay active. Have fun!
7. Appropriate Wardrobe
Having an appropriate wardrobe can also make you feel more athletic and encourage you to workout more often. Choosing the right fitness clothes is important to stay comfortable and avoid embarrassing fashion disasters at the gym. It is a good way to provide foot/ankle support and protect you against injury to foot, knee, hip and back. Guidelines to picking out appropriate wear may include:
- Invest in a quality, active specific shoe
- Easy to move in clothes (no jeans)
- Comfortable socks to decrease friction and risk of blisters
8. Start slow
It is OKAY to go at your own pace. Do not get discouraged that someone can walk/run faster than you on the treadmill or that you cannot lift a 10 lb. dumbbell during Boot Camp class. There are plenty of ways to modify an activity! If you do not know how to go about modifying a specific movement/activity, do not hesitate to ask.
9. Mental vs. Physical fatigue
Instead of spending $3.00 for another Starbucks or a can of energy drink, exercise! Research has shown a link between mental fatigue and physical fatigue. It demonstrated that participants stopped exercising 15% earlier when they were mentally exhausted. No wonder you just want to relax after a long work day! However, only after 20 minutes of exercise, you will increase your brain’s release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These natural occurring chemicals in the brain promote energy level and reduce fatigue by enhancing your mood.
10. JUST DO IT!!
It is not only a good slogan for an athletic shoe (Nike), it also makes for a good slogan for an active lifestyle. Saying to yourself that “Today, I am going to TRY to go workout” will always set you up for failure. To “try” is to make an attempt, which does not always follow through especially when you are faced with resistance (e.g. dinner with friends, date night, favorite TV show, etc). Make exercise a habit! When you make it a habit, you will find yourself more willing to participate in activity without excessive effort.