4 Ways to Get Motivated If You (Think You) Hate Exercising

 

Invest in a Fitness Tracker

Whether tracking steps, height climbed, or number of active minutes, fitness trackers can be a great motivational tool. Although the exact accuracy of most trackers is yet to be proven, they can still help motivate you to be more active. Most people will find themselves making small, but meaningful changes. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from the entrance, and going for an after dinner walk are all examples of positive behavior changes that a tracker may help you adopt.

Worried about the cost? Prices typically range from $40 to upwards of $200, depending on desired functionality. Many smart phones now have the ability to track steps as well. Check out these fitness apps.

Try Something New

If you don’t enjoy running, don’t force yourself to do it. There are many other things you can do for cardiovascular exercise, i.e. elliptical, biking, roller skating, skiing, basketball, Zumba, and the list goes on. The same thing goes for strength training. If you have never felt comfortable lifting free weights, try something different like high intensity interval training, body weight training, or kettle-bells.

Finding an exercise that doesn’t feel like “exercise” may be the key. Hiking can be a great way to get outside and see new sights, without realizing you are actually burning a lot of calories. Dance classes are also another way to have fun while staying active.

Start Small

When it comes to exercise, something is better than nothing. Having an “all or nothing” attitude will likely keep you in the “doing nothing” category. Instead of training for a half marathon, start by doing a couch to 5k program. Or, simply start incorporating a couple of 10 minute walks into your day. As your body adjusts, start increasing the length or intensity of your walks. Soon, you will be amazed at your progress and excited to set new goals. The key is to take the first step.

Reward yourself

One of the best ways to train your mind to look forward to, rather than dread, exercise is to reward yourself. Sorry, but we are not talking about food rewards. Instead of enjoying a piece or pizza or ice cream in celebration of an exercise milestone, try to think of ways to reward yourself intrinsically. For example, think of how good you felt after accomplishing your goals. Focus on the rush of endorphins you felt right after finishing your walk/run. If you need a little help getting started, it’s ok to buy yourself a non-food, exercise-related reward, such as a pair of running shoes or a new fitness outfit. Eventually, though, you will want to focus on the mental rewards. This type of thinking will help you retrain your brain into not hating exercise. 

Top 4 Fitness Myths

It’s not hard to find someone willing to lend advice about how to gain muscle faster or how to lose weight quicker, especially if you ask around at the gym. Unfortunately, some fitness advice is based off of hearsay or personal opinion, not on facts. Some advice is just plain outdated (as with our first myth). It’s time to break down some of the most popular fitness myths.

Myth: Isolated Static Stretching before working out is critical to prevent injuries.

Fact: It is best to do dynamic stretching before and static after working out.

Forget what your 6th grade gym teacher taught you. If you perform static stretching (the type where you sit and hold a stretch), you are more likely to be injured and perform at a slower rate. One research study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that static stretching could negatively affect strength, power, and explosive performance. Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that static stretching before weight lifting made people feel weaker when compared to dynamic stretching. Instead, try static stretching after a workout. It will help cool down your muscles slowly and safely.

Dynamic stretching (constant movement, think running in place or high knees) before exercise has been shown to be more effective in helping prevent injury and improving performance. In summary, it is recommended that athletes do dynamic stretching before working out and static after working out.  

Myth: I don't need to do cardio if I'm strength training.

Fact: Both strength training and cardiovascular exercise are important.

Most people who are trying to increase the size of their muscles focus on strength training/weight lifting. Others, who wish to lose weight or body fat, tend to focus on cardiovascular training. Which one is better? Whether you are looking to get bigger muscles or just be more fit and healthy overall, it is important to do both strength and cardiovascular training. Here’s why. When you are lifting weights and working out to say, get abs, you will need to both build the muscle (by doing a variety of ab exercises) and also reduce the amount of body fat in your abdomen…this is where the cardiovascular training comes in (and also a healthy diet). Cardiovascular training will help burn excess fat and reveal the abs you’ve worked so hard for.

For those focusing on improving health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular activity in addition to 2 days of strength training per week. By following these guidelines, you are at a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other weight-related diseases.

Myth: Doing crunches is the best way to get abs.

Fact: Abs are made is the kitchen (have a healthy diet) and by doing a variety of ab exercises.

The days of ab roller infomercials may be long gone, but for many this myth still exists. The problem is that no matter how many crunches you do, if you don’t have a healthy diet, your abs will be hidden behind layers of fat. This is why it is important to eat a healthy diet full of lean protein, whole grains, and fruit and vegetables. It is also important to incorporate a variety of ab exercises into your routine. By adding diversity, you will work all the different muscles in your abdomen, not just the same ones over and over. 

Myth: The more you sweat, the harder you’re working (and more calories you’re burning).

Fact: Sweating is simply the body’s ability to regulate your body temperature.

Sorry, heavy sweaters, just because you are sweating more than your neighbor doesn’t mean you are burning more calories. Sweating is simply the body’s way of cooling off. The good news is that sweating may be indicative of being more “fit”. Studies have shown that more fit people sweat faster and more than less fit people. 

Reshaping Your Environment: Get the most out of your space

It's easy to underestimate the impact of our surroundings on our life. An unsuspecting person may walk into the kitchen and grab a banana out of the fruit bowl without knowing that they would have just as likely grabbed a donut, if it had been there instead of the banana. Think about how much more work you can get done by having your own private office with a door, rather than working in a shared space, such as a cubicle.

Although there are some things that we can’t totally change (such as working in a cubicle), we can almost always make modifications. Whether small or large, reorganizing and setting aside a specific space for your most important tasks, can have a huge impact on your day.

Nutrition

One of the best ways to shape your food and drink environment can be summarized by the old saying “out of sight, out of mind”. Make the healthiest foods, like fruit, the most visible and easily accessible in your kitchen. Conversely, remove all unhealthy, “junk food” from the counter tops (and your house altogether, ideally). If you have a difficult time deciding what is healthy and unhealthy, a good rule of thumb is to not have any food on your counter top except fruit. Also, place pre-made green salads or a bowl of grapes at eye level in the refrigerator to keep them visible. If you spend a lot of time away from home, pack some healthy snacks so that you can create your own healthy food environment anywhere you are. 

The same principles work when it comes to staying hydrated.  Keeping water in a pitcher in the fridge or in convenient water bottles will help keep your family hydrated.  You will naturally tend to gravitate toward the food and drink that is most convenient and visible.

Exercise

What is most important to you when you are exercising? Think of the things in your environment that motivate you the most, and focus on enhancing them. For example, if music is crucial to your workout, then make sure you load up with a good playlist before each workout. If you love being outdoors, then take your workout outside to the park, or your backyard. If you are intimidated by large groups of people, make sure to choose a gym that is smaller in size or offers private workout areas. Regardless of your preferences, make sure that you addressing your needs and removing any barriers from your environment that may be preventing you from exercising.

Sleep

Creating a bedroom that is conducive for sleep is one of the easiest ways to modify your environment. The bedroom should be used for sleep (or intimate time) only. No watching TV and no exercising in there either. Your bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet. Use blackout curtains and a white noise machine, if necessary. If kids or pets often keep you awake, try to create a specific space for them that is off your bed, preferably in another room.

Mind/Body

As discussed previously, the benefits of practicing mindfulness range from improved sleep, to lower stress levels. Creating a space to practice mindfulness is sometimes as easy as finding an empty, quiet room to sit for a while. Other times, you will want to create a more permanent space that is calm, peaceful, and relaxing. This can be your go-to place when meditating or practicing mindfulness. You will want to make sure this space has a comfortable place to sit, and is not too cluttered with unused items. Instead, have one or two items that inspire you.  These items will help you find your center and practice. Setting aside this space solely for the purpose of relaxation will provide peace of mind, knowing that you have a peaceful place dedicated for this one purpose. 

 

Tired of running on a treadmill? Switch it up!

When most people think of “cardio” they probably think of running. But for people who don’t like to run or cannot run, there’s some good news. Cardiovascular exercise includes any activity that strengthens your heart and improves the function of your cardiovascular system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular exercise each week in order to help prevent cardiovascular disease. When you break it down, that amounts to 30 minutes per day for 5 days per week. Unless you really love to run, you’ll probably want to switch up exercises that you do in order to reach 150 minutes of cardio each week.

Additionally, cardio is not the only type of exercise that health experts recommend in order to receive optimal health benefits.  The CDC also recommends that adults do muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

What’s considered moderate to vigorous?

·         Increased heart rate

·         Increased breathing rate

·         Increased sweating

·         Muscle fatigue

 

These are all examples of what exercising at a moderate to vigorous level usually feels like. Some people also use perceived exertion and/or target heart rate ranges to determine if they are exercising at a moderate to vigorous level to receive the associated health benefits. 

 

Alternatives to running

At the Gym

If you’re looking for some non-running alternatives while you’re at the gym, you might consider trying some of the other machines, such as the elliptical, stair stepper, and rowing machine. There are many ways you can switch it up, such as changing the intensity level or doing timed intervals.  

 

Home

If you’re looking for something outside, at home, or a little less traditional, you might enjoy hiking or biking. Ask a friend to join you or turn it into a family event. Many gyms and groups also do exercise in the park. Zumba, a Latin inspired dance fitness class, is in part so popular because of the social aspect of it. When you exercise with friends, it feels less like exercise and more like hanging out. Just make sure that you are focused on exercising and not talking the whole time.

 

No matter which exercise you choose, getting your blood pumping at a moderate to vigorous level for at least 150 minutes per week and also performing strength training exercises at least 2 days per week, can have a lasting, positive impact on your health. Adding some variety to your routine will not only decrease boredom and, therefore, increase the likelihood of you sticking with it, it will also diversify the specific muscle groups that you are working with. Trying different cardio routines can be a fun and exploratory experience, and the more fun you have, the more likely you will keep doing it. 

 

5 Reasons Why We Love Body Weight Workouts

 

It’s free

Body weight training is a great option for those who want to supplement their regular gym membership with a little something extra, without having to pay for it. It is also good for those who can’t afford or don’t want to buy a gym membership at all. The next time someone tells you that they can’t afford to exercise due to the high cost of a gym membership, make sure to recommend body weight training!

It can be done anywhere

Since body weight training doesn’t require any equipment (although, you can add it if you like), and often times you only need a very small space, it can be done almost anywhere. Body weight training is about as convenient as it comes regarding workouts. You can do a body weight session at the park on a beautiful day. Or in your hotel room while on a business trip. If you didn’t have time to make it to the gym, you can do body weight training at home. The opportunities are limitless.

No equipment needed

Body weight training relies on gravity and the weight of your own body to build endurance and strength. Anyone who has ever done it can tell you that it’s far from easy. Since equipment is not involved, it is easy to transition from movement to movement quickly, which keeps your heart rate elevated. Movements are performed quickly and then inter-spaced with short breaks, this is known as high intensity interval training (HIIT). 

It’s modifiable

Body weight training can be performed at a variety of different strength levels. This makes it a great choice for beginners all the way through experts. It’s easy to increase the difficulty level as you gain strength and balance. This versatility also makes it a great option for those who are working through an injury. Body weight training is easily modified so that it can decrease the stress on an injury or it can be modified to be a lower overall impact.

The health benefits

Research shows that body weight training can increase endurance as well as fitness. One variation of body weight training, high intensity interval training (HIIT), has also been linked with improved cardiovascular performance and metabolism. This makes HIIT an excellent choice for those who are overweight, have diabetes, or are prone to cardiovascular disease. Body weight training also aids in preventing osteoporosis by helping build and maintain the mass and density of bones.

Body weight training is a convenient, modifiable, and well-rounded way to exercise. It can be done anywhere, anytime. For ideas on how to get started or how to switch up your current body weight training routine, check out the scientifically supported 7-minute workout and the advanced 7-minute workout.