We all know that exercise is a necessity for gaining health and losing weight. But sometimes it is just so hard to get up and actually do it! It can feel like such a daunting task, even though we’ve done it 1,000 times before. We see daily fitness challenges posted on social media and exciting new gym classes, but it can still seem so out of reach.
Exercise is one of those things that when you’re into it, it’s hard to get enough. But when you’re not, it seems like climbing a very high mountain. If you’re in the latter camp, you may just need a shift in perception. Here are seven ways to motivate yourself out of that chair and escape those emotions—laziness, self-pity, fatigue—that are holding you back.
1. Pledge to do just 10 minutes.
You don’t have to plan a complex workout or take an all-or-nothing attitude. It’s more important to make exercising a habit, and you can do that by starting off with simply 10 minutes of cardio, three times a week. Something as simple as taking a brisk walk around your block fits the bill. Make this a non-negotiable part of your routine. And don’t concentrate yet on the goals you want to achieve from exercise; those are too far out! Your goal right now is to simply get up and get moving, so you can create a firm habit foundation.
2. Just add music.
Add some music to your workout. Watch TV while working out. A simple playlist on your iPod is a wonderful way to add interval training to your exercise routine: Start off walking briskly when a song starts and pump it up by running or jogging when you hear the chorus. After the chorus, go back down to a brisk walk or jog. You can choose the length of the workout by selecting the number of songs in your playlist for your workout.
3. Separate your sadness.
If you’re feeling down about something in your life, try to separate it from your exercise. Getting active will inject your body with energy and hopefulness, and provide a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and sadness. Even if you really are not in the mood, remind yourself of how you’ll feel after a quick sweat session outside in the fresh air. (I guarantee it’ll lift your spirits.)
4. Give yourself a pep talk.
Try to get to the root of what’s bothering you. Get up and look at yourself in the mirror. See yourself and say, “I am worth it. I can set my mind to anything. If I take care of myself, I will find the solutions and conquer my problems.” Once you’ve established an exercise habit, meeting new fitness goals and taking on new challenges, even small ones, will also boost your confidence.
5. Make it social.
You have always wanted to try rock climbing or run a marathon. So join a group on Facebook, get together with friends or at a gym, or ask a friend to train with you. Exercise is a wonderful way to meet and catch up with new friends—and those friends will push you to stay active, even when you don’t feel like getting out of bed. Even a friendly smile as you walk around your block can enhance your mood.
6. Try something new.
If you have a regular exercise habit but you’re just not feeling excited about it anymore, get out of your safe zone and change up your routine. There are so many unique and unusual exercise classes these days, so sign up and give a new one a chance. Not only will you challenge your mind and body in new ways, but you’ll also meet interesting people outside of your normal circle. If you enjoy it, you’ll be motivated to go back and keep improving.
7. Use your workout time “wisely.”
Use your workouts as a chance to exercise your body and your mind: Listen to an audio book while you walk or run. You have heard about the genius of Aristotle and other great thinkers, but have you ever taken the time to read their works? If the physical benefits of exercise aren’t enough to motivate you, maybe the next chapter in a fascinating work of literature or philosophy will be.