I have been exercising regularly for over 20 years now. The habit didn’t come easily to me, but I am very thankful for it. I don’t believe I could homeschool six children without the energy, stress relief, and better health I gain as a result of working out. If you would like to develop the exercise habit (and I hope you do!), here are my best tips for making it happen.
- Associate with people who exercise. I list this first because I believe this is arguably the main reason this naturally sedentary person has become a faithful exerciser. I married a workout fanatic. Deep down I hoped that his habit would rub off on me and it did. I just didn’t realize that he would often rub me the wrong way in the process! If you didn’t marry an exerciser, you can still gain the power of peer pressure. While encouraging a friend who doesn’t exercise to join you for a walk or workout is a great idea, it’s an even better one to buddy up with someone who already gets moving week in and week out. I currently benefit from knowing that friends who exercise are going to ask me if I’ve been doing my latest workout.
- Arrange to work out at the best time of day. I have exercised faithfully at every time of day during various seasons of my life. Currently, I exercise first thing in the morning. I find that moving early wakes me up, removes the need for more than one shower, and prevents interference. But I don’t believe the first thing in the morning is the ONLY time that works. I’ve also split my workouts into two daily sessions and that worked, too.
- Anticipate your inner slug. I know exactly what the lazy me is going to do and say when I’m tired, cold, and cranky. So I make it easy for her. I make sure my workout space is clear (I currently work out at home) before I go to bed. I have my tennis shoes and socks waiting for me right outside my bathroom. I used to have my exercise attire folded and ready to go, too. Now because I can be really, really stubborn, I have made it even easier to get moving. I wear my exercise clothes as pajamas! If the thought of sleeping in a sports bra gives you nightmares, you could always leave your bra with your shoes. If I still don’t want to work out when I get up, I have to take off my workout clothes which is a little like driving to the gym and then going home; it’s silly. Sometimes the lazy me is really insistent. In those cases, I imagine how I will feel later in the day after skipping my workout. If the whiner still carries on about it, I give her permission to do as little of the workout as she wants as long as she starts.
- Agree to make it fun. I honestly understand why so many of us struggle to make regular exercise a part of our lives. Our ancestors got all the activity they needed as part of their work. The activity was always purposeful. Women beat rugs, kneaded bread, and walked everywhere. Now we ask women to pedal bikes that don’t go anywhere, walk on treadmills like caged hamsters, and repeatedly lift weights that don’t need to be put away. If you can get your exercise doing meaningful work instead, by all means, do it! But most of us are going to have to find ways to give meaningless activity some purpose. Some things that have worked for me are working out with a friend (the time flies as we talk), working out with my kids (I love to teach anything!), participating in a challenge or competition (I did Body for Life for 12 weeks), playing a sport (tennis), and mixing it with entertainment (listening to audiobooks or reading that I only do while exercising). There are so many great options for exercising today and you don’t have to stick with just one! Keep trying activities until you find something you enjoy.
What tips and tricks have you found that motivate you to exercise?