The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is so, so weak. Although our bodies need regular exercise to function properly, so many of us have to force ourselves to do it. There’s no shame in this: research indicates that our enjoyment of exercise — or lack of it — may be encoded in our genes.
You’re too busy to work out, you say? Is the weather too hot, or too cold? Do you hate the crowds at the gym? The fact of the matter is, time isn’t usually what’s lacking (all you need is 15 minutes to half and hour), or opportunity, or circumstance. What you need is motivation.
Why do you think we call it a workout, rather than, say, playtime? Exercise is hard. It makes you sweat, and pant, and ache. It can be boring, too — sheer drudgery. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little imagination and a few changes in attitude, you can not only motivate yourself to get moving, but even enjoy your workouts.
Six Ways to Making Your Workout Fun
— Turn that frown upside down. Studies show that simply smiling can make working out more pleasant. Add a few words of encouragement: “This is fun,” “Great day for a run,” etc., and you might find that wishing does, indeed, make it so.
— Drink coffee. Caffeine not only provides an energy boost, unlocking the flow of adrenaline to your brain. Adrenaline produces the “fight or flight” response we experience in times of stress — so why not take flight? Studies show that drinking a cup of coffee or other caffeinated drink before running enhances performance, and may give you the boost you need to get out the door.
— Dance. Or, at least, turn up the tunes. Upbeat music can lift your spirits, and your motivation, either before you run or during, or both. As a warm-up, try cranking up the stereo and dancing for 5-10 minutes. After that, you’ll be raring to go. Looking for some music to work out by? Fitness Magazine offers playlists to get your body moving: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/music/.
— Laugh. At yourself, at the agony of de feet, at the sloth monsters urging you to go back to the couch. Laughter is the best medicine, they say, and that’s certainly true for motivation. Laughter Yoga — a series of exercises in which you induce yourself to laugh — is a very enjoyable way to start, and it’s a great workout, particularly for your core muscles. Learn more at www.laughteryoga.org/.
— Reward yourself. After working so hard, you deserve a treat. (No, we’re not talking about a dish of ice cream!) How about a bubble bath, a massage from your significant other, or, when you’ve lost 10 pounds, a new pair of jeans or a new dress? And there’s no harm in reminding yourself of all the intangible benefits you’re reaping from a daily workout: longer life, more energy, greater sex, better sleep.
— Find a friend. You don’t have to go it alone. Chances are, someone you know also wants to get in better shape. What better way to get motivated than to have someone else to cheer you on? Knowing that, if you don’t make it, you’re letting someone down, will help push you to your feet and out the door. Joining a runner’s group is another great way to ensure that you follow through on your workout plans.
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