You come in from a long day at the office, and you want to get a workout in, but you can’t find the motivation. Or maybe you think you have the motivation but “life” is getting in the way of your workout as you feel you have too much on your plate to fit it in.
Making your workout a priority and finding ways to fit it into your schedule will offer you a host of health benefits and make you feel like you’ve got your mojo back.
Working out will be a lot easier if you view it as a gift you give to yourself versus a distasteful activity you have to get through. Think about your health and vitality — by your working out, you are treating yourself as a priority. And coming from a place of self-love.
Studies show that regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory and thinking skills.((Harvard Health Publishing: Regular Exercise Changes the Brain to Improve Memory, Thinking Skills
)) So if you’re using the excuse that work is taking over too much for you to have time to work out, think of your workout as a part of your workday. You’re helping your brain be sharper at work.
“Healthy exercise is valuable not only for the maintenance of good physiologic function of the body, but also mental clarity, and the feeling of good health.” —Paul Dudley White, MD
Once you’re ready to make your workout a priority and give yourself that gift, how do you implement your workout goals into your daily life?
Here are 10 ways to boost your workout motivation. These strategies will help you keep your fire for working out going strong.
1. Commit to Your Calendar
Say you want to work out 3 times a week. Look at your calendar for that week and see where those spots will fit in the best. Then, make a commitment to sticking to those times.
One exercise study showed that a big obstacle to maintaining regular exercise is being able to fit it into a person’s schedule.((Cbc: Working Out Is Hard
)) Make these appointments with yourself unbreakable. Maybe you can handle variety, so one day a week you might have an early morning workout. Another day that week, you might fit it in after work.
2. Start Your Day with 20 Minutes for Yourself and Your Workout
You may have great intentions for working out after work or during lunch hour, but inevitably other commitments might encroach into that time.
If you get on up and knock out your workout first thing, you reap the benefits all day long of that energy boost. This workout could be a morning walk or hitting the yoga mat right when you get out of bed.
3. Expand Your Horizons and Seek out Variety
Our brains crave variety. If you are stuck in the rut of the same old workout, it might be time to stretch yourself.
Brainstorm some wild ideas that sound appealing to you. Fencing? Look for classes in your area. Kayaking? See if there’s a place near you where you can rent kayaks and look for some local outdoor clubs where you could go with others.
Even if the new thing you try is challenging, give yourself some time to stick with it enough to see if it might be for you.
4. Combine Social Time with Your Friends into Your Workout
Having a hard time fitting in a workout because of your social life? Instead of only getting together with your friends at the wine bar, see if you can schedule a hike in the park with them. Or you could join a rec league like kickball. You could talk a friend into joining with you, or you could sign up by yourself and meet some new pals.
Some exercise research reported that competition was a key motivator for exercise, and you can use that to your advantage in one of these leagues.((Psychology Today: Study Identifies No. 1 Source of Motivation to Exercise More
)) Other opportunities include playing basketball or tennis at local parks, gyms, or fitness centers. Scope out some ways to make your workout more social or combine fitness activities into your social life.
5. Use Music to Inspire You
Is your playlist stale? Spend some time creating a great workout playlist. Search Spotify or create some motivating stations on Pandora.
Think about what songs make you move. If you hear that song, you just can’t sit still. Use those. Even the theme song from Rocky
might be a good motivator for you.
You can create multiple theme playlists to spark more creativity and fun in your workout. How about making a playlist of Best All-Time Roller Skating Songs? Or Best Heavy Metal Workout Songs? Best 80’s Workout Playlist (maybe it includes Let’s Get Physical).
6. If Music Is Not Your Thing, Find Some Cool Podcasts
Download podcasts or audiobooks that interest you. Getting lost in a good podcast or audiobook can make the time fly by on your workout. And if you get the satisfaction of “multi-tasking” — you’re getting your exercise in while reading a book or staying up to date on a podcast.
7. Update Your Gear
Maybe you’re not up for working out because your workout gear is from the dark ages. If you go to pull out a tee shirt for your workout, and it’s full of holes or from a college party, it’s time to re-do your workout wardrobe.
Think of getting new workout gear as investing in yourself. How often do we make sure our living rooms or kitchens are state of the art, but we don’t put any time, energy, or money into our personal effects?
It could be as simple as a getting a new water bottle. Making sure you have supportive and properly fitting shoes is key to achieving your workout goals. And if you get a new workout tee or tights, it can make you more motivated to get moving.
8. Just like You Get Organized at Work, Get Organized for Your Workout
Set out what you need as motivation for your workout. If you are going on a morning run, lay out your workout clothes the night before. Fill your water bottle and set it on the counter.
For the after-work exercisers, pack your bag of clothes to take with you to work so you have no excuse not to go onto the gym. Or, if you are coming home after work, set your clothes out so that when you come home; they will be a not-so-gentle reminder to you saying, “hey, pal! It’s time to go on your walk!”
9. Use Alarms as Nudging Reminders
So you’re not a morning person. If you think getting up earlier to squeeze a workout in before work is just not going to happen for you, then set an alarm for the time you need to start preparing for your workout in the afternoon/evening.
If you want to go on a walk at 6pm, set an alarm for 5:30pm as a reminder. When you hear the alarm, it’s like a nudge saying, “it’s time to get dressed for your walk.” You don’t want to shirk on yourself.
10. Trade Exercise for That Afterwork Happy Hour Drink
Maybe you are skipping some workouts to meet co-workers at happy hour. Or you come in from a long day at work and have a glass of wine first thing to alleviate the stress of the day. While it’s sometimes nice to unwind with a glass of wine, doing so after work could be a habit. And you can replace that habit with exercise.
By cutting out alcohol right after work, it gives you more time in the day to get a workout in. So try to go straight from work to your workout, or put your exercise clothes on the minute you get home and head back out the door for your run or walk. Whatever it is, think of that happy hour as a new kind of "happy hour time" for your to treat yourself and your body to your workout.
Exercise can help stave off anxiety and depression, so if your post-work drink is to alleviate post-work stress and anxiety, give a neighborhood walk a whirl instead.((Europe PMC: Exercise for Mental Health
Time to Get Moving!
Life sometimes gets in the way of our best-laid plans, including our plans to work out. But by maintaining the attitude of self-love, and giving yourself the gift of time to exercise, you can use the above tips to help you stay on track with your workout regimen.
By using some organizational tricks as well as remembering your reasons for making your workout a priority, you'll not only find the time to fit it in but feel good about doing so.
Now, which strategies of these are you going to implement this week?