Finding the Motivation to Exercise

Tips to help you get and stay physically active

Sheri Colberg-Ochs By Sheri Colberg-Ochs, PhD

Are you one of those many people who makes a New Year's resolution to get more fit and then breaks it by February? You're not alone! Why have you been unsuccessful so far at motivating yourself to exercise regularly? There are a lot of different reasons that affect your ability to follow through on your good intentions. The following tips are designed to help you lose all your excuses and started getting and staying more physically active.

Tip #1: Exercise will give you more energy, not make you tired all the time.
You may claim that you're too tired to exercise. Actually, your lack of exercise may be responsible for making you feel that way. Even normally active individuals who take a few weeks off from exercise begin to feel more sluggish, lethargic, and unmotivated to exercise. Start standing up and moving around more frequently, and you'll likely feel re-energized instead of drained.

Tip #2: Always have an exercise backup plan.
You may have great plans to exercise outdoors, but then the weather fails to cooperate. In that case, you may forego your exercise if you don't already have a backup plan for being active, such as walking in the mall or doing an alternate activity like an exercise video at home that day. Plan ahead for contingencies.

Tip #3: If you don't use it, you lose it.
Poor health is another major barrier to exercise participation, but not one that can't be overcome. In fact, becoming more active actually improves your health in so many ways, even if it's ailing. Age itself may be considered an exercise barrier. What you don't use, you lose, though, so fight back and prevent some of the decline just by being physically active. Even engaging in physical activities around your home helps.

Tip #4: Make exercising as convenient as a drive-through.
Exercising can be inconvenient, especially when no parks, walking trails, fitness centers, or community recreational centers are near where you live or work. In that case, you may have to commit to dusting off that exercise equipment you have stashed away. If nothing else, use the time that you're exercising at home to also watch your favorite TV show or catch up on your reading.

Tip #5: Exercise one step at a time.
The most common excuse for not exercising on a regular basis is lack of time, so stop thinking of exercise as only planned activities and instead simply try to move more all day long. For most people, the majority of their calorie use during the day comes from these types of unstructured activities rather than a formal exercise plan. If you need a visual reminder, wear an inexpensive pedometer as a simple way to motivate yourself to take those steps.

Tip #6: Check around for fun activities in your community.
Find out what exercise programs are located in your workplace or nearby in your community. Often times, groups of individuals walk together during lunch breaks, or you may be able to join a low-impact aerobics or other exercise class offered at your workplace or a nearby recreation center. How about taking up ballroom dancing or yoga classes? All activities count, and doing anything is better than doing nothing.

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Last Modified Date: November 20, 2014

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