Finding the time to exercise may be hard, but finding the motivation to make yourself exercise is a more common challenge. More than half of us do not get the recommended daily amount of exercise, even though not doing so is detrimental to our health.

If I Exercise I Will

You deserve to exercise and reap the benefits of good health! Until you start to feel and see the positive results of exercise, you need to find a personal reason to make yourself exercise. What would compel you to walk, bike, yoga or swim tomorrow? And, what might prevent you? Making yourself exercise requires a regular habit to reinforce your desire to achieve certain results. The following are some tips for finding motivation, for the first time or the tenth time, and staying the course.

Write down your reason for exercising and visualize the results you want.

  • Fill in the blank with a benefit of exercise: If I exercise, I will ______________________.
  • Among other benefits, exercise can improve your strength, flexibility, energy and self-confidence. Exercise can help to lower your stress and risk for diseases, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
  • Exercise can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise brings you closer to others. Enjoy physical activity with your children or neighbors.
  • Whatever the reason, it has to matter to YOU. It helps to write down why you are doing something, but also visualize the experience and the result.
family motivation for exercise

You don’t have to join a gym to stay in shape!

Set a realistic fitness goal. A gym is not required.

  • Perhaps your goal is to increase the amount of steps you take each day from 3,000 to 10,000 over an 8-week period. Wear a pedometer to make it a fun game.
  • Work up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, each week.
  • Also incorporate muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days a week. Examples of activities include push-ups, yoga, or heavy gardening. Resistance bands are also helpful.
  • If you are just getting started or have a health condition, get your doctor’s help to set a goal.

Consider what is holding you back and prepare to prevail.

  • Share your exercise goal with your family. Let them know why it is important to you. Establish a routine so that others who count on you know what to expect.
  • Just as we fit in other priorities, there is time for exercise in your day. For some people, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week might suit their schedule. Others may find that less time on all days works better. Ten minutes at a time is fine. Add exercise to your to-do list.
  • If you perceive an activity to be painful, you will be less likely to do it. If you have had a past exercise injury, you might be more reluctant to try again. Exercise can be done safely; it should be strenuous, but should not hurt. Make sure you wear proper shoes and clothing, as well as warm up, gradually increasing pace and distance. Eat healthy and drink plenty of water.
  • Ask a co-worker to help get you away from your desk for a brisk walk around the building; perhaps the two of you will be inspired to join a walking club and invite others.
  • Don’t let a rain shower stop you from making yourself exercise. There are lots of indoor places to exercise, like your local community center or a mall, or climbing the stairs at your office.
  • Keep a journal or use an online tool for assistance in tracking your progress.
  • Honor your accomplishments. Feeling and looking great are rewards unto themselves, but sometimes it helps to have additional incentives, like a new pair of jeans or a massage.

In developing an exercise habit, remember that consistency is more important than content. Don’t worry if a meeting runs late one day and cuts into your planned exercise time. Even a little activity can go a long way to reinforce your desire to live a healthy lifestyle. Sources: American College of Sports Medicine, American Heart Association, LifeWork Strategies, and Washington and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Centers. For additional information, consult your physician.