10 Ways to Get Motivated to Exercise (When You’re Not)—Part 2 of 2
Last time around, we covered the top five ways to motivate yourself to exercise, and we're back this month to give you the next five to keep you motivated. Check out the following sections for more ideas for those days when you just can't seem to move. # 6: get an exercise buddy (or many) […]

Unmotivated girl lying down

Last time around, we covered the top five ways to motivate yourself to exercise, and we're back this month to give you the next five to keep you motivated. Check out the following sections for more ideas for those days when you just can't seem to move.

# 6: get an exercise buddy (or many)

You don't need to go it alone when you're active. Having a regular (and reliable) exercise companion increases your chances of participating and makes your activities more social and fun. Ask your spouse, family members, friends and coworkers to join in your physical activities, especially during your leisure time. Having a good social network to support your new or renewed exercise habit helps you stick to it for the long haul.

Remember: your community is often a good place to research other exercise options. To get more involved in structured exercise programs, find out what exercise programs exist in your workplace or community. You can often find groups of health conscious people walking together during lunch breaks, or you may be able to participate in a low impact aerobics class or other exercise class offered at your workplace or in a nearby leisure center.

Take the time to find out what is available in your area. The more you can get involved in lifestyle changes as part of a larger community, the more likely you are to be successful in making it a lifelong habit.

Tip: If you can't find a human exercise companion, borrow or adopt a dog that needs to be walked regularly.

# 7: plan it out

Put your planned exercise on your calendar or your to-do list just like you would other appointments. You show up for your doctor's appointments, so why should your physical activity planning be any different? Never make the mistake of assuming it will happen just because you pretend you want to do it a certain number of days per week or per month. It takes some planning ahead and commitment to make it a priority.

# 8: set goals and reward yourself

Setting goals helps keep your interest. For example, if you are walking for exercise, you might want to get a pedometer and set a goal of adding 2,000 extra steps each day. Break your larger goals into smaller, realistic steps (like daily and weekly physical activity goals) for all of your active lifestyle changes, and use SMART goals. Trackers, activity logs, and other motivational tools are also widely available online.

Tip: Reward yourself when you reach your exercise goals (but preferably not with food). Who said sticker boards and non-calorie treats are just for kids? Maybe you can promise yourself a night out to a special place, purchase a coveted item, or anything else that is reasonable and effectively motivates you to exercise.

If you miss one of your goals, try to make the rest happen anyway. Then reward yourself when you achieve one of your goals, even if you don't achieve them all.

# 9: Take advantage of opportunities for spontaneous physical activity

You don't have to do high-intensity activities for them to be effective for diabetes and weight management. You can also add physical movement throughout the day by doing whatever you want, including gardening, housework, and many other spontaneous physical activities.

For example, if you have a sedentary office job, take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can. Go to someone else's office or the neighbor's house to deliver a message instead of relying on the phone or email. Or park your car at the end of the parking lot and go the extra distance. Guess what? You just got more active without giving it much thought.

# 10: take baby steps

If you get out of your normal activity routine and find it difficult to restart, just take small steps in that direction. You may need to start over at a lower intensity using lighter weights, less resistance, or a slower walking speed. Starting slowly with small steps helps you avoid exhaustion, muscle pain, and injury.

For example, if you don't want to exercise on a particular day, make a deal with yourself to do it for a short time to start (which is often the hardest part). Even doing only 5-10 minutes at a time (instead of 30 or more) is fine. After moving, you may feel well enough to go over the time you originally planned to do. The key is to start with whatever means possible.

Remember, you're on this path for the long haul, so even taking small steps in the right direction will eventually allow you to reach your fitness goals and get back to good health.

As a reminder, here are the top five tips from last month:

# 1: check your blood sugar

# 2: start with easier activities

# 3: choose the activities you like

# 4: spice it up

# 5: have a plan B

From Colberg, Sheri R., Chapter 22, “Ten Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise (When You're Not)” in Diabetes and staying fit for dummies. Wiley, 2018.


If you’re having trouble beginning an exercise plan or following through, you’re not alone. Many of us struggle getting out of the sedentary rut, despite our best intentions.

You already know there are many great reasons to exercise—from improving energy, mood, sleep, and health to reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. And detailed exercise instructions and workout partouze are just a click away. But if knowing how and why to exercise was enough, we’d all be in shape. Making exercise a habit takes more—you need the right mindset and a smart approach.

While practical concerns like a busy schedule or poor health can make exercise more challenging, for most of us, the biggest barriers are mental. Maybe it’s a lack of self-confidence that keeps you from taking positive steps, or your détermination quickly flames out, or you get easily discouraged and give up. We’ve all been there at some point.

Whatever your age or fitness level—even if you’ve never exercised a day in your life —there are steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and painful and more fun and instinctive.

Ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or force yourself into monotonous or painful activities you hate to experience the physical and emotional benefits of exercise. A little exercise is better than nothing. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your esprit and emotional health.

Be kind to yourself. Research shows that self-compassion increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any given endeavor. So, don’t beat yourself up about your body, your current fitness level, or your supposed lack of willpower. All that will do is demotivate you. Instead, look at your past mistakes and unhealthy choices as opportunities to learn and grow.

Check your expectations. You didn’t get out of shape overnight, and you’re not going to instantly transform your body either. Expecting too much, too soon only leads to frustration. Try not to be discouraged by what you can’t accomplish or how far you have to go to reach your fitness goals. Instead of obsessing over results, focus on consistency. While the improvements in mood and energy levels may happen quickly, the physical payoff will come in time.

Many of us feel the same. If sweating in a gym or pounding a treadmill isn’t your idea of a great time, try to find an activity that you do enjoy—such as dancing—or pair physical activity with something more enjoyable. Take a walk at lunchtime through a scenic park, for example, walk laps of an air-conditioned mall while window shopping, walk, run, or bike with a friend, or listen to your favorite music while you move.

Even the busiest of us can find free time in our day for activities that are important. It’s your decision to make exercise a priority. And don’t think you need a full hour for a good workout. Short 5-, 10-, or 15-minute bursts of activity can prove very effective—so, too, can squeezing all your exercise into a couple of séances over the weekend. If you’re too busy during the week, get up and get moving during the weekend when you have more time.

The key thing to remember about starting an exercise program is that something is always better than nothing. Going for a quick walk is better than sitting on the couch; one minute of activity will help you lose more weight than no activity at all. That said, the current recommendations for most adults is to reach at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. You’ll get there by exercising for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Can’t find 30 minutes in your busy schedule ? It’s okay to break things up. Two 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute workouts can be just as effective.

For most people, aiming for moderate intensity exercise is sufficient to improve your overall health. You should breathe a little heavier than normal, but not be out of breath. Your body should feel warmer as you move, but not overheated or sweating profusely. While everyone is different, don’t assume that training for a marathon is better than training for a 5K or 10K. There’s no need to overdo it.

Health issues ? Get medical clearance first. If you have health concerns such as limited mobility, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure, talk with your doctor before you start to exercise.

Warm up. Warm up with dynamic stretches—active movements that warm and flex the groupes de muscles you’ll be using, such as leg kicks, walking lunges, or arm swings—and by doing a slower, easier version of the upcoming exercise. For example, if you’re going to run, warm up by walking. Or if you’re lifting weights, begin with a few light reps.

Drink plenty of water. Your body performs best when it’s properly hydrated. Failing to drink enough water when you are exerting yourself over a prolonged period of time, especially in hot conditions, can be dangerous.

There’s a reason so many New Year’s resolutions to get in shape crash and burn before February rolls around. And it’s not that you simply don’t have what it takes. Science shows us that there’s a right way to build habits that last. Follow these steps to make exercise one of them.

A goal of exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week may sound good. But how likely are you to follow through ? The more ambitious your goal, the more likely you are to fail, feel bad about it, and give up. It’s better to start with easy exercise goals you know you can achieve. As you meet them, you’ll build self-confidence and momentum. Then you can move on to more challenging goals.

Triggers are one of the confidentiels to success when it comes to forming an exercise habit. In fact, research shows that the most consistent exercisers rely on them. Triggers are simply reminders—a time of day, place, or cue—that kick off an automatic reaction. They put your routine on autopilot, so there’s nothing to think about or decide on. The alarm clock goes off and you’re out the door for your walk. You leave work for the day and head straight to the gym. You spot your sneakers right by the bed and you’re up and running. Find ways to build them into your day to make exercise a no-brainer.

People who exercise regularly tend to do so because of the rewards it brings to their lives, such as more energy, better sleep, and a greater sense of well-being. However, these tend to be long-term rewards. When you’re starting an exercise program, it’s important to give yourself immediate rewards when you successfully complete a workout or reach a new fitness goal. Choose something you look forward to, but don’t allow yourself to do until after exercise. It can be something as simple as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee.

If your workout is unpleasant or makes you feel clumsy or inept, you’re unlikely to stick with it. Don’t choose activities like course or lifting weights at the gym just because you think that’s what you should do. Instead, pick activities that fit your lifestyle, abilities, and taste.

Activity-based video games such as those from Wii and Kinect can be a fun way to start moving. So-called “exergames” that are played standing up and moving around—simulating dancing, skateboarding, soccer, bowling, or sport tennistique, for example—can burn at least as many kcal as walking on a treadmill; some substantially more. Once you build up your confidence, try getting away from the TV screen and playing the real thing outside. Or use a smartphone app to keep your workouts fun and interesting—some immerse you in interactive stories to keep you motivated, such as course from hordes of zombies !

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