Have you ever started a fitness program and then quit? Many people have, often because it’s too hard, inconvenient, results take too long or they get bored. Instead, find your reason to keep going when that little voice inside says “Let’s watch TV and eat chips instead.” The rewards make it well worth pushing on until you learn to enjoy, and even prefer, being active. Meanwhile, here are some tips from Fit After Fifty to help you stay motivated to exercise.
1. Find the Fun
Try different things until you find what feels good and works for you. Jogging may ‘click’ for some people, while others will prefer walking. Keep experimenting until you find a few things that you enjoy. Exercise can be fun, instead of drudgery, so be willing to vary your routine if you start feeling discouraged or bored.
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
It’s easy to become discouraged when you start comparing yourself to those perfectly toned bodies at the gym. Don’t do it! Instead, compare yourself to where you were a few weeks ago. Every little improvement you see will encourage you to keep going.
3. Set Goals
Be realistic and start with simple, achievable goals. “My goal is to walk for 10 minutes three days this week.” It’s easy to give up if your goals are too strenuous or just simply won’t work with your schedule, so choose carefully. And, too lofty goals can result in injury – another psychological reason to give up. So, take it easy and start slow. Early success in reaching goals will motivate you to keep moving and establish more difficult goals as you progress.
4. Keep Track of Your Progress
There is nothing quite as motivating as being able to see how far you have come. Consider a fitness journal, an online tracking program or a mobile tracker app. Record the frequency and duration of your workouts, number of reps, improvements in blood pressure, etc. – whatever improvements signal progress toward your goals.
5. Make Exercise Convenient and Part of Your Daily Routine
Do whatever you can to remove obstacles by making it as convenient as possible to exercise. Too tired in the evening? Set the alarm a little earlier in the morning. Too busy to go to the gym? Get some good DVDs and work out at home, or find a neighbor to walk with. Schedule exercise as you would anything else that’s important. And, take advantage of every opportunity to sneak some exercise into your daily routine. Take the stairs, park further away from the door, and so on. Every bit of activity helps to transform your body into one that prefers movement, making it so much easier to stay motivated to exercise.
6. Get Support
Enlist the help of your friends, family, co-workers – anyone who will encourage you to keep going. And, let them go if they become critical. You want positive support, not nagging. Better yet, invite them to exercise with you. It’s often easier to stay motivated as part of a ‘team’, whether that means walking, taking an exercise class or playing ball together, rather than going it alone.
7. Reward Yourself
Take a few minutes at the end of each exercise session to savor the good feelings that exercise produces (internal rewards). Treat yourself for meeting incremental goals (external rewards). Rent a movie you’d love to see, buy a new accessory or flowers for your table. Just don’t make it calorie-rich food!
And, above all, be flexible. It’s OK to take a day or two off if you’re just too busy, sick or otherwise truly don’t feel up to it. Just make sure to get back on track as soon as possible. Above all, remember that taking a break does not mean you have failed and therefore should give up! Instead, see it as an opportunity to come back after a short rest with renewed vigor and commitment. Do what you need to do to stay motivated to exercise. Your body will thank you for it!