Ever notice how easy it is to SAY you’re going to be physically active, but somehow you just never get around to DOING it? If you are like me, and so many of my friends, you can relate. Our mind says “yes,” but when we don’t FEEL like it, poof, out the window our good intentions go. And goodbye to exercising today. If this sounds familiar, here are my recommendations to get your thinking right, and your feelings in line. Who knows, exercise just might become fun again too.
1. Select a fun exercise for you.
Notice that when you aren’t feeling very positive, you tend to more easily put off what you aren’t in the mood to do. That’s where FUN comes in. If you want the first rule of getting your feelings aligned to move yourself to be more productive, more engaged in exercise, make it positively fun and enjoyable for you. You are less likely to skip things you genuinely like doing.
Hate to jog? Then dance. Don’t like to dance? Dive into the pool. Notice I didn’t say join a gym? According to American Sports Data, 93 percent of Americans fully believe that exercise improves their lives, but only 15 percent join gyms. That means you can turn your mindset away from reps, sets, miles, and instead turn to the fun you had as a child. Remember how active you were? Get the idea? As long as you are having fun you’ll keep doing it. Play brings joy, and it’s the oxygen of adult life, so give yourself permission to play and be physically active daily. Aim for an hour or so and you’ll do more for your longevity than you can imagine.
2. Focus on your meaningful rewards.
Or at least, focus. Your self-perception, the beliefs you have about yourself and exercise, your specific/measureable/attainable/realistic/time-bound, SMART, plans are all part of your focus. But these alone don’t do it. Add personally valued rewards and watch that focus turn into action. Want a new workout outfit? Time alone to read or watch a movie? Reward yourself with a dollar for every 15 minutes of physical activity or 15 minutes of free time for every 30 minutes of activity—or what matches your fitness level ideally for you. One friend of mine gave me $50.00 to hold. If he didn’t work out four times that week, I kept the money. If he did, I gave it back. Sigh, he earned his money back.
3. Build in your BFFs into your motivation toolkit.
Join a group where others are similar to you, reaching new goals, and you’re more like to do the same. Research tells us that those who engage in physical activity generally enjoy it more when they do it with others, rather than alone, thereby increasing motivation. When you exercise with others, research has found, it can decrease feelings of fatigue, increase your energy and promote a more intense workout for longer periods of time. The sense of having accountability to another helps ensure that you’ll show up as planned. And working out with a friend or with a group helps build your self-confidence (“If she can do it, I can too.”), and get through more difficult and strenuous exercise. This is one of the reasons that apps like Fitocracy, Nike+GPS, RunKeeper, Teemo, and Endomondo are so popular—there’s a strong social element that allows you to share your experience with others.
Now, go out, have some fun, focus on your personal rewards, add a few of your BFFs and enjoy being more productive, physically active and healthier. You’ll live longer, and with far more joy.