Sometimes the toughest part of exercising is just getting started, especially if you’ve been inactive for an extended period. When life interferes with your best laid plans or your body wants to settle deeper into the couch, how do you motivate yourself to fit in a workout?
Here are tips to get—and keep—moving:
Trick yourself. Don’t think of it as exercise. Find a physical activity you enjoy. Gardening, dancing, raking leaves, playing with a child or grandchild, or getting back into a favorite sport are just a few options to consider.
Take it slow. Nothing can disrupt your exercise momentum like injury. Even sore muscles or joints can discourage you. Remember, being active is a long-term commitment. Take it easy in the beginning—even five minutes of movement is better than total inactivity—and slowly ramp up your efforts.
Write it down. Wishing to be more active is easy. But wishes are easily forgotten. Make them tangible by writing down your goals and progress. Free exercise logs, planners, and other tracking tools are available online.
Reward yourself. When you reach a fitness goal that you’ve written down, celebrate it. Treat yourself to something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive—think movie night, new workout gear, something from your Amazon wish list, or just time off work. The important thing is giving yourself positive reinforcement.
Set a schedule. You’re more likely to stick to your workouts if you define exactly how much you want to exercise each week. Pick the days and times that work best for you—and then make it happen.
Put one foot in front of the other. Walking is one of the easiest ways to incorporate movement into your day. Walk to do errands. Walk with a neighbor or coworker at lunch. Walk with a friend or family member at night. Adopt a dog and walk it. Walk in place, even—just walk!
Find a partner. A buddy can add a lot: camaraderie, motivation, accountability, maybe even competition. Whether you meet in person or work out virtually, find someone who can help you stay on track.
The great part about finding your exercise motivation? Once you get moving, it can keep you going.