How Can I Motivate Myself to Exercise More?
It’s a familiar scenario.
You know you should exercise more, so you make an agreement with yourself that you will do it. However, when push comes to shove, you conveniently forget about it, or you ignore it — and then you give up.
If taking more exercise was a resolution that you made for the new year, then part of the reason as to why you might have a problem sticking to it is because it was a resolution, instead of a goal. Plus, it requires will power, which is a finite resource. When you exercise will power in one area of your life, there is less left over for all the others. This is often why relying on will power will alone means that your well-intentioned exercise never gets done.
However, if you can set a goal to do a particular form of exercise, and then work it into a new behavioural routine that you do every day (or perhaps several times per week), then you’ll find it much easier to maintain. Also, if you carry out small, easy changes in your behaviour that get you closer to doing the exercise, then it will be much easier to take that small extra step and actually carry it out, rather than avoiding it.
As an example from my own experience, I was at one time attending pilates classes twice a week. This was costing me more than I really wanted to spend, so I decided instead to attend 1 formal class per week, and then do 2 sessions of pilates at home on my own. I worked out on which mornings I could best fit in my pilates at home, and on those mornings (Thursday and Saturday), I get dressed in my pilates clothes immediately after having a shower.
By so doing, I have actually made it easier for myself to do my home pilates, because I’m already dressed for it and I don’t need to convince myself to go and get changed and so on. This means that even if I don’t feel particularly motivated, I actually end up doing the exercise because I’m already dressed for it.
However, if I need to be somewhere on my ‘pilates days’, then I ensure that I do it the next day (although on rare occasions, I do have to forego it all together). As a result of my setting myself this goal, I have managed consistently to exercise at home twice a week, and I am getting fitter as a consequence.
You can also make it easier to achieve your goal of doing more exercise if you choose an exercise that you enjoy. This means you can look forward to experiencing some short term pleasure, which will help to motivate you more.
Any sort of short term enjoyment can act as motivation. If you do a formal class, for instance, you can also use the social interaction that you enjoy there as a motivator. You might decide take yourself somewhere nice afterwards as a reward, like going with friends to a café after a session at the gym, and it may be that it is this experience that actually gets you motivated and into the gym in the first place.
Do yourself a favour and set yourself positive goals that will motivate you to exercise more. And while you are concentrating on the short term pleasures attached to this, in the long term your body will thank you and you will benefit from having achieved something and becoming fitter at the same time.