Everybody has heard about the health value and importance of exercise. And yet, most of us continue to avoid working out. Just three in 10 American adults get the recommended amount of physical activity, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Exercise is an important investment in your long-term well-being. Yet, many people cannot stand the thought of working up a sweat on a regular, or even occasional, basis. Following are 10 tips that can make exercise more palatable.
Find activities you like
If you positively loathe the thought of running or pumping iron, don’t do it. Instead, concentrate on activities you do enjoy. Racquetball, dancing and biking are all examples of fun activities that also provide a great workout. Even active housework or yard work offer enough exercise to help boost the health of your cardiovascular system.
Exercise is more likely to seem like drudgery if you can’t see light at the end of the tunnel. Set benchmarks that you know you can achieve. For example, plan to swim 10 laps in a pool three days a week within one month of beginning your routine. It’s OK to make your goal more challenging or more modest, so long as it is achievable. The satisfaction you feel upon achieving a goal will help to serve as motivation when setting your next target.
Does the mere thought of 30 minutes of nonstop toil cause you to break out in hives? If so, create an alternative workout plan that consists of “bite-sized” mini-workouts. For example, try three separate sessions of moderate activity that last for 10 minutes each. You can plan these sessions before work, during your lunch break and after work. The number of total minutes you are active is what counts, not the fact that these minutes occur consecutively.
Achieving a new goal may feel more satisfying if you occasionally splurge on a celebratory reward. This is a great motivator that does no harm, so long as your reward isn’t a huge chocolate sundae. Try to make your reward healthy, but remember to keep it fun. For example, treat yourself to a smoothie after one workout each week. Or, purchase new shoes after achieving a cardiovascular exercise goal.
Schedule times to exercise
People who dislike exercise often plead that they are too busy to work out. Yet, it is vital to your health that you wring enough spare minutes from most days to squeeze in some exercise. By scheduling a consistent time to exercise, you make activity a priority and send a message to yourself and others about your commitment to personal good health. Exercise can also be a great way to get some “me” time, well-earned time away from your other family or work obligations.
Studies have shown that people are more likely to stick with their exercise routine when they schedule it for the beginning of the day. Early exercise has two major benefits: it gets the workout over with early and provides you with a boost of energy that jump-starts your day.
Vary your activities
Perhaps nothing dooms a workout routine more than boredom, especially among those who dislike exercise in the first place. Adding variety to your workout can keep things fresh and exciting. For example, you could use the treadmill one day, go swimming the following day and take a long bike ride the day after that.
Working out with others is a great way to make exercise more interesting. Make new friends by joining a gym or taking an aerobics class at a local community center. Or, call up your old college friend and talk to her about becoming a walking partner. Exercising with others makes the time pass more pleasantly and can help keep you motivated.
Get a personal trainer
Some people swear they hate exercise, when deep down they are merely intimidated by it. A personal trainer can help create a comprehensive workout program and guide you through its paces. Trainers are also great motivators who can help track your progress.
Make it a family affair
In a world where families are too busy to eat together, it may seem like a pipe-dream to suggest household group exercise. And yet, few family activities offer such a potent opportunity to bond with your clan while also promoting good health. In addition, you’ll be modeling a commitment to healthy living that will benefit your kids for the rest of their lives.