Do you exercise from time to time but find it difficult to stay motivated? A common reason people avoid or discontinue exercise is they succumb to “internal barriers” These are thoughts, feelings and perceptions that impede lifestyle change. Here are some tips to help break through your own internal barriers to exercise.
1) Find Something You Love To Do and Do It. It's as simple as: Walk the Dog, Ride a Bike, Chase Children, Climb Stairs, Golf, Garden, Swim, Hit a Ball, Hike, Play a Game, Slap a Puck, Run, Row, Skip, Stretch, Skate or Ski… Get it?
2) Understand What You’re Up Against. Don’t underestimate the barriers that keep you stuck on the couch or in front of your computer screen! It could include intimidation, embarrassment, anxiety about your physical appearance, low self-esteem, and lack of confidence about your physical ability… If any of these seem like your major struggles then perhaps your obstacle could be outcome fixation, boredom, or perceived lack of time. Knowledge is power when exploring your motivation, and understanding your internal drives and will help you overcome any barriers to success. Try to fixate in intrinsic forces such as personal bests, feelings of accomplishment and fun, while avoiding external motivators such as societal pressure, or prestige. Focus on the enjoying the action not just the rewards.
3) Get Individual Attention. A lifestyle consultant, personal fitness trainer, or mentor can help you identify your barriers to physical activity and help develop strategies to penetrate them. By participating in some fitness testing it can help you create a bench mark and quantify your personal improvements. This biofeedback can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as well as establish exactly how much progress you have made along the way. Lastly, by hiring a health professional it will help you commit to regular attendance and your workouts will become more interesting and engaging.
4) Consider the Lifestyle Approach. The lifestyle approach requires that you accumulate a total of 45mins of physical activity each day. Rather than doing your whole workout in one structured session, you may find it easier for you to maintain a few short (15 minute) sessions a day. When it comes to health and feeling energized… it all amounts to the same thing.
5) Set Realistic Short-Term Goals. Create a goal for each session where you can build towards some short term accomplishments like feeling more energized or concentrating on intensity during the session. If your only goal is to lose 50lbs, or maintain a life long exercise program, it will be quite some time before you can feel successful about achieving your goal.
6) Progress Your Training to Avoid Stagnation. Once you’re on your way, you might find yourself on a plateau, where your fitness doesn’t seem to improve at all. When this occurs, discouragement can set in easily. One solution is to keep progressing your exercise by challenging yourself to reach new levels. Another might be to incorporate cross-training techniques to push that heart rate higher through activities your not as accustomed to.
7) Try Toys and Variety to Combat Boredom. Adults are just kids at heart! Let yourself play. Get a new bike or golf clubs. Research a new activity such as rock climbing or hiking trail networks. Try the elliptical instead of the stair stepper. Alternate fitness classes or check out new information on the internet to spark interest when your sessions start to feel stale.
8) Create a personal Exercise Mission Statement. This should describe how you want to incorporate exercise into your life. Read it again to stay focused and overcome barriers. Visualize exactly what you are trying to accomplish and see yourself in your mind reaching those goals. But don’t just focus on the finish line, also think about each step you will take to get yourself there. The more vivid the better.
9) Notice How Much Time You Spend Being Inactive. Most people underestimate the time they spend being sedentary such as working on the computer or watching TV. Start a log and then plan specific ways to start substituting movement for these times.
10) Integrate Movement into Your Life. It’s hard to make time for physical activity if you keep it isolated from the rest of you life. Instead, find ways to combine exercise with the family, social times with your friends, or to create dialogue with colleagues.
Hope these ten steps will help keep you motivated. Happy Trails.