I’ve often thought of doing exercise as being bit like cleaning one’s teeth. It’s something I know I should do, and sometimes it feels good, while at other times I just do it, knowing I’ll feel better for it afterwards. And the long term benefits of both are absolutely worth it, whether it’s keeping one’s teeth, or keeping one’s strength and mobility – and therefore independence - well into old age.
But while many of us know we should exercise because it’s good for us, that’s not always enough: sometimes we need more motivation than “just do it”.
Helpful strategies that may work for some people are things like: do something you enjoy; schedule an exercise time in your diary so you have to do it; or exercise with a friend so you have to stick to the commitment. Playing a team sport also requires commitment, and you’re more likely to stick to a fitness training program if you know your teammates will be counting on you to run down that ball before the opposition gets to it.
All very worthy ideas, but what about some motivational tips that are a bit more, well, motivational? To this end I’ve been searching the internet for ideas, and came across quite a few that captured my imagination. My favourites include:
- Be a kid again! If you’re not sure what would be fun, think about what you enjoyed as a young child. For instance, if you loved softball, find a softball league in your area. If you spent hours in the pool, maybe you’d enjoy water aerobics, water polo, or join a Master's swimming league.
- Live the dream. Do you have things you always wanted to try, or accomplish, but never got around to it? Make a list of things you would like to do: ice-skate backwards, win a fencing match, study karate, ballroom dance, learn classical ballet, run a marathon and so on. Then make a start.
- Give yourself 10 minutes on a bad day. If you’re feeling sluggish and the thought of pounding the pavement for half an hour is too daunting, make a bargain with yourself: do your workout for 10 minutes. After that you can decide whether you should stick with it or just stop and take it easy.
- Have patience. Real change takes about 6-8 weeks to be seen so if you promise yourself to stick with it this long, chances are the routine will become an actual habit.
What motivates you to exercise? Do any of these ideas strike a chord with you?