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Eleven Great Ways to Get Motivated to Exercise

Posted in Workout on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 at 11:23 am by flerly.

You know you’ve got to get moving. You resolve to park the car a few blocks from work, take the stairs, and hit the gym after work. But a few weeks pass and before you know it, parking spots start opening up right in front of the building, the elevator is already in the lobby, and you’ve worked late every night that week. It’s not that you don’t know how to get fit, you just can’t seem to stay motivated. We all know people who are religious with their workouts. So, what’s their secret?

We asked fitness experts and regular Joes alike how they stick with their routine. These methods keep them moving; maybe one will work for you.

1. Embarrass Yourself
Make a mark on your calendar every time you make it to the gym or park. Seeing your motivation (or lack thereof) in black and white helps keep you going. Suzanne Schlosberg and Liz Neporent, authors of Fitness for Dummies, Second Edition (IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., 2000), suggest “whether you write your goals on the side of your shoe or in your training diary, glancing at them on a daily basis will help keep you focused and motivated. Some people tape their goals to their bathroom mirror or refrigerators.” Do whatever works to make you remember what you promised yourself.

2. Join a Club That Wouldn’t Have You for a Member
So you’re not Steffi Graf. That doesn’t mean you can’t join a tennis team. Richard Cotton, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, says “joining a club, team or finding an exercise partner … provides a support system and someone to simply share the experience with. Often times just knowing someone will be asking you ‘How’s it going?’ can be the difference between exercise success and failure.”

3. Love Thy Neighbor and Love Thyself
You can’t leave a neighbor standing on the corner checking her watch. She knows where you live. Miriam Nelson, director of the Center for Physical Fitness at Tufts University and the author of Strong Women Stay Young and Strong Women Stay Slim (Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1999), says, “When I make a date with a neighbor to go for a run I keep it, and we have a great time.” She also plans a regular appointment with her neighbors. “Saturday mornings several of my neighbors come over and we lift weights together; it’s a great way to start the weekend,” she says.

4. Challenge Yourself
Working toward an event — like a 5K walk or run, or an overnight bike trip to a faraway bed and breakfast — keeps you on track. Every time you exercise you’ll be closer to meeting your goal. “The minute you mail in your entry fee, you’ll have a whole new sense of purpose. And the feeling of accomplishment you get from completing your event is like nothing else,” say Schlosberg and Neporent.

5. Dance, Dance, Dance
“Music is a fantastic motivator,” says Michael Olajide Jr., a former professional boxer and inventor of Aerobox workout routines. “It can push you to do more and to exercise longer, even longer than you planned.” Who doesn’t get a surge of energy every time they hear their favorite tune? Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to get that new CD.

6. Don’t Count the Miles
“Do not work out to burn calories or lose weight,” says Emme, plus-size model, author and columnist. “There are more important things than burning calories taking place during your workout. Newfound self-esteem and stress reduction are just two positive aspects of many that come to mind.” If you’re always focusing on burning off your morning doughnut, of course exercise seems like a chore. Try exercising for the sake of your health, not your body.

7. Find the Fun
Forget about the “no pain, no gain” attitude. “The mind, body and soul connection is very important here, don’t forget to have fun,” says Emme. Pick an activity you’ve always loved, like biking or walking outdoors. The more enjoyable it is, the more likely you’ll stick with it.

8. Make It a Family Affair
“When I go for a run I entice one of my kids to go with me — he or she goes on their bike and I run. It’s a great way to be together with my kids,” says Miriam Nelson. Who better to egg you on than the ones who love you best!

9. Learn to Love Lycra
“Buying snazzy new workout shorts or comfy new cross-trainers can really get you fired up to work out, ” say Schlosberg and Neporent. Once you realize how much better the right equipment makes a workout, you’ll be loving your sports bra as much as soccer star Brandi Chastain.

10. Dive for Dollars
Money is the ultimate motivator. Put a dollar in a jar every time you make it to the gym. At the end of a month, treat yourself to a massage. You’ll be at the gym more often than the trainers.

11. It’s About Time
“My mood motivates me to work out, so timing is everything,” says Kathy Kaehler, personal trainer and author. If you aren’t up for a workout don’t feel guilty about postponing. On the other hand, exercise has been known to improve a bad mood. Work out your aggressions in the gym instead of at home or work.


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