Let’s face it: Starting a new exercise plan isn’t always easy. Or, maybe you’ve been working out for a while, but you still aren’t enjoying the process all that much. If you’re not inspired to move, these simple tips may help you find your workout groove:
1. Find movement you enjoy doing.
This one seems kind of obvious, but it still amazes me how many people think they have to punish themselves with exercise, and therefore they choose activities they absolutely abhor, like running on the treadmill. There are so many options when it comes to fitness, so experiment until you find a few that you can look forward to doing. Whether you choose to dance, cycle or swim, it’s important to derive some enjoyment during your sweat session — especially in the beginning — in order to make it a habit.
2. Take it down a notch.
One of the main reasons I see people giving up on an exercise plan is that they push themselves too hard. And it’s no wonder! Who wants to keep working out when for days afterward you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck?
We’ve been conditioned to believe in the mantra of “no pain, no gain,” but the truth is that pain is your body’s way of telling you that you’re overdoing it. Sure, some muscle soreness is a normal part of the process, but there is a big difference between soreness and actual strain (or possible injury). If you dread your workouts because they leave you feeling like lying on the couch for the rest of the day, you may need to reduce the intensity of your training a bit, at least until you build more strength and stamina to handle tougher challenges.
3. Mix it up.
Variety is the spice of life, so be sure to include some variables in your routine to keep it exciting! While keeping some elements consistent will be key to making progress with your plan, that doesn’t mean you can’t make things entertaining and fun during your workouts. Whether it’s a new music mix or trying out a new class at a different fitness studio, switching up your routine can help you stay motivated and excited about exercise.
4. Value quality over quantity.
Many folks dislike working out because they think that a regular fitness program means six days a week at the gym. (No wonder they don’t look forward to starting a consistent plan.) Not true! In fact, doing less may actually get you more results.
One study done by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that women who exercised six days a week actually ended up burning 200 calories less per day than those who performed the same workouts two and four times a week. By the end of the four-month study, each group had experienced almost the same levels of improvement in strength and endurance, with both the twice- and four times-a-week participants burning more total calories each day than the more frequent exercisers.
The bottom line? If you spend a shorter amount of time on a focused, concentrated effort, you can cut your workout time in half and perhaps burn more calories overall in the process. Exercise shouldn’t take over your life, but it should be a regular part of it — one that you look forward to fitting in at moderate, scheduled intervals.
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