Even though spending time on a cozy sofa in front of a TV with your favorite snacks is a great way to relax, if that happens more often than not, you might start feeling guilty about your sedentary lifestyle. You know that you can do better than that, but at the same time, you simply lack the motivation to change. You might wonder how you’ll persevere.
You can come up with countless excuses, but you are probably still aware of the fact that exercising regularly can help you improve your health. According to current statistics, exercising regularly can lower your chances of premature death by 30%.
Living a longer, healthier life souns like a good reason for getting off the couch a few times a week. But if you lack the motivation to move, you need to work on that first. Finding the necessary motivation within yourself can help you not just start but also continue exercising even when you don’t feel like it.
To start understanding how your mind works and why having motivators is important, you first need to know what motivation is. It’s a theoretical construct that explains behavior, and it represents the reasons for your actions, desires, and needs. It makes you want to repeat a particular behavior, and it prompts you to act in a certain way. Motivation represents the complex process of working towards a specific goal. In your case, your goal could be improved health, or simply proving to yourself that you can beat your laziness.
To get motivated to exercise, you need to find your reason. For some people, shedding a few pounds and achieving their ideal weight is enough, but what if that doesn’t work for you?
To find a health-related reason for working out, you might need to dig a bit deeper. For example, if your family has a history of heart disease, you might be prone to it as well. According to research, physical activity reduces the risk of coronary artery disease, and physically active people had disease rates 50% lower than the ones who lead sedentary lives. Even if your family is healthy, if you commit to long-term exercising, you will be doing something beneficial for your overall health.
Next, ask yourself what kind of activity you’d enjoy. There are surely some activities that you are more drawn to than others — from running and swimming to dancing or playing sports, there must be something you’d enjoy. Nobody says you have to devote your time to lifting weights if it isn’t what you like. You can try out different things on your own, with a friend or partner, or you can even join a club.
If you have a friend who is struggling with motivation as well, it might help you both to encourage and push each other — and maybe even have a friendly competition if you are naturally competitive. You can keep each other accountable not only for exercising but for dieting too. In short, going through this journey with a friend can be a win-win for you both. Also, whenever you or your friend reach a certain goal, make sure to celebrate the progress. Rewarding yourself can increase your motivation immensely and help you maintain it over time.
Even though you might have set your goal and found your favorite activity, you will still face some challenges along the way. They might sway your will and ruin your motivation.
Even with the best exercise plan, you are still human, and you will probably skip a day or two sometimes for one reason or another. When this happens, don’t beat yourself up. Remind yourself that you are doing your best. Don’t punish yourself by trying to exercise double as much just because you missed one training. However, don’t fall into the trap of giving up either; it’s better to continue where you left off than go back to leading a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, the best thing to do is encourage yourself to get back on track.
Generally, you should dedicate at least 30 minutes of your day to moderate physical activity. If you’re just starting, fitting a new activity in your busy schedule can be tricky. You need to assess your daily and weekly free time and plan your gym time accordingly. If you don’t have enough time to physically go to the gym (or don’t want to), you can opt for working out at home or running around the block.
This can save you a lot of time and eliminate some excuses, such as the gym being too far away from your home. Moreover, gyms sometimes require you to pay an annual fee, so you might not want to spend money on their memberships. If you decide on some other option, you can spend that money on your hobby instead. This will increase your overall satisfaction in life as well as your desire to keep being active.
You might think that working out for hours on end will bring you results faster. However, by doing so, you are more likely to reach your limit faster and become burned out. The good news is that all the physical activity you do throughout the day can add up. If you use a fitness tracker app, you might have noticed that, at the end of the day, all the activities you’ve added during the day amount to a certain number of calories spent in total.
That’s why people often suggest parking a bit further from your workplace, walking to the building, and taking the stairs instead of using the elevator all the time. Plus, seemingly easy activities like these can boost your mood, as you would know that you are doing something good for your health during your workday.
Another way to incorporate physical activity into your day is by doing HIIT — high-intensity interval training. It’s a short, cardio-type training focused on doing an intense workout and then allowing yourself time to recover and burn calories while your muscles keep working. Some days, you might want to do some quicker exercise and have more free time, even if it ends up being more strenuous than what you’re used to.
If all else fails, and you find yourself chilling on the couch for weeks on end, you can try finding your fitness muse. That person can be someone you know who’s achieved great results, or a fitness influencer that you admire. You can follow them on social media and let them and their body be your motivator.
There can be many reasons for the lack of motivation to exercise. Sometimes, you can only see the negative sides, such as exercises being hard or tedious. So, it would be best if you found a way to “hack” your brain and change your perception on exercising. Find the positives, and observe them from a long-term standpoint.
For example, you might feel tired after your workout, but think about how you’ll feel if you keep it up for years. How will you feel seeing how lean your body is and knowing that you only have yourself to thank for it? Motivate yourself to do it — and keep doing it — and you will reap the benefits in the years to come.