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Exercise Motivation

Posted by wmagnus On November - 23 - 2009

Every day I see people who are either trying to start an exercise program and just can’t get going. And then I see others who are, despite their best efforts, falling off the exercise wagon. All these people start out well with the best intentions, but somewhere things go awry.

No matter whether your problem is getting started or keeping going, here are some tips that can help you:

Get beyond Fun. Enjoying exercise is great but if the reason you are exercising is because the activity is fun, it may work for a while but you are doomed to fail. At some point fun won’t be enough to keep you going. Sitting on the sofa watching reruns of Family Guy will seem like more fun than whatever activity you so loved and that day at that moment; it’s all over.

Be Realistic. I see patients trying to bite off exercise activities far beyond their level of fitness every day. Those people will not succeed because they just can’t perform at the level they have set. Daily failure and disappointment will lead ultimately to not exercising at all. Lots of canned exercise programs allow for this and demonstrate exercises for lower levels of fitness. Find a program that works for where you are not where you want to be and advance as your fitness improves. If you are not sure where you are fitness wise, there are experts who can help  you get started at an appropriate level.

Push it. There’s a balance between choosing exercises that are too hard and choosing a program that allows for and encourages advancement. Nothing is more boring that grinding out the same circuit of virtual hills on an exercise bike day in and day out. Change it up. Do a different routine. Push things just a little harder every day or every week add something new and different. Even rotating routines can keep things fresh and allow for greater advancement and mastery of the routine on each cycle.

Get a buddy. If at all possible find a friend, spouse, or buddy to workout with. The buddy should be of a similar fitness level so neither of you ends up feeling left too far behind. You’ll both advance at different levels in different exercises which can motivate both of you. There’s somebody there to keep you honest and push you a little just when you are getting most discouraged. Better yet, there’s somebody to remind you to exercise on days you feel least like it. It’s probably wise not to tap drinking buddies and party pals for this role. If you don’t already have a workout buddy, seek out a local or online support group to help keep you going; such a group can also help you get around or through workout problems.

Remember that things take time. You didn’t get to be in your current shape overnight, and you won’t get where you want to go overnight either. I often talk to people who “just aren’t seeing results” after only working out for a week or two. Patience.

Look for Silver Linings. Exercise has many benefits, but not all of them are visible. Maybe the scale isn’t budging, but your pants are falling off. Maybe your resting heart rate is lower, or you are recovering faster. Maybe it’s how your arm looks when you flex that bicep, or that your knees aren’t sore all the time. Maybe it’s something as simple as being able to do one more rep than you did last week. The point is that you will improve, and even if it’s not the result you expected, use those improvements to motivate yourself.

One Response to “Exercise Motivation”

  1. You have put together a good list here. I coach amateur cyclists and so oftn riders come to me with incredibly ambitious targets about losing weight and so on.

    I always steer them away from such targets. i prefer to get people to focus on the process on a daily basis and the eventual goals will take care of themselves.

    i completely agree about setting realistic goals. I would perhaps go a stage further and advise that initially people set small and quite easy goals.

    this allows them to have early success. To make small changes and to turn those changes into permenant “good habits” that they can theen build on.

    I wrote a post recently about this area with regard to endurance cyclists that you may enjoy. Luke Bream