According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, less than five percent of adults get 30 minutes of physical activity per day, and only about one-third of adults meet the government’s weekly physical activity guidelines.
Are you part of this group? Do you know that exercise is important but still find that you’re having a hard time being consistent with it?
If this is the case for you, you might need to change your approach to fitness. Read on for some tips that will help you figure out how to be more consistent with exercise.
Find Your Motivation
One of the first things to do if you’re trying to figure out how to be more consistent with fitness is to find your motivation. What is your “why”? What is pushing you to exercise on a regular basis and start making your health a priority?
There are lots of factors that might motivate you to exercise consistently. If you need inspiration, here are some ideas:
- Lose weight
- Reduce your risk of developing chronic health issues (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.)
- Improve your mental health by reducing depression and anxiety
- Increase your lifespan
Do any of these benefits of exercise appeal to you? If so, pick the one that calls to you the most, then dig a little deeper.
Don’t just say you want to lose weight. Why do you want to lose weight? What will you be able to do after you lose weight that you can’t do now? Will you have more energy to play with your kids or grandkids? Will you feel more confident?
Once you’ve identified your motivation, write it down. Write out on a sheet of paper what you want to accomplish and why it’s so important to you, then display that paper somewhere where you’re going to see it on a regular basis (your bathroom mirror, the dashboard of your car, your desk at work, etc.). This will help you to keep your eyes on the prize.
Ease Into It
A common mistake that people make when they start exercising is taking on too much, too quickly. They try to go from sitting on the couch every night to working out for 90 minutes six days per week.
For the first week or so, this might seem doable. Pretty soon, though, it gets overwhelming, and lots of folks end up quitting altogether because they feel burned out.
To avoid falling into this trap, don’t go from zero to 100. Ease into exercise instead. Try setting a goal to take a group class for an hour 3 or 4 times per week.
Initially, you might scoff at something as minimal as this. You might assume that it’s such a small change that it won’t make a difference.
Think about it this way, though: Imagine one person who works out five times per week for two weeks, then doesn’t exercise again for six months. Compare them to someone who works out two times per week every week for the same time period.
Who do you think is going to see more progress after six months? The person who dove straight in and gave up or the person who eased into regular exercise?
It’s better to go slow and build a long-lasting, sustainable habit. Easing in will also help you to avoid injuring yourself (who wants to get sidelined right after they start working out again?).
Do Something You Enjoy
It’s going to be much easier to be more consistent with exercise if you choose forms of exercise that are enjoyable to you. When life gets busy and you find yourself having to choose between a workout or a night on the couch, you’re going to be more inclined to pick the workout if it’s something that is fun rather than something that feels like a chore or creates extra stress.
Think about the types of exercise that you’ve done in the past? Did you like them? Did you look forward to them? If that’s not the case, why not try something else?
There are tons of different ways to work out and, at the end of the day, the best workout is the one that you’ll actually do. If you hate running, don’t run. Try getting into a gym instead. If you love group classes, take more classes. Don’t worry about the weight or how intense a workout is. Just get up and move.
Some people never end up starting a fitness routine because they get too hung up trying to choose the “best” workout. If this sounds like you, stop chasing perfection and just start somewhere.
Pick any workout and give it a try. If you don’t like it, you can always pick something else. If you never make a decision, though, you’re never going to make any changes or have an opportunity to be consistent.
As happiness and productivity expert Gretchen Rubin says, “Something that can be done at any time is often done at no time.” If you don’t schedule your workouts and just tell yourself that you’ll get to them at some point, chances are Sunday night will roll around and you suddenly realize you haven’t worked out once.
To avoid falling into this trap, make Sunday night your designated time to sit down and schedule your workouts for the upcoming week. Take a look at your calendar and identify the times that will be the best fit for your workouts. Then, write your workouts down and treat them like you would any other appointment.
If you need an additional push to make sure you’re exercising consistently and sticking to your schedule, consider recruiting someone to be your accountability partner. Reach out to a friend and ask if they want to join you for your Wednesday morning workout. Knowing that someone else is going to be showing up will give you extra motivation to ensure you show up, too, and don’t leave them hanging.
Pay for It
Sometimes, the best way to make sure a workout happens is to pay for it. Many fitness classes require you to pay in advance to attend. At Amoskeag we either charge for the month or you can purchase a per-class pass called a punch card.
If you pay for a month and can’t get your money back, you’re going to be more inclined to show up. This is another form of accountability that can be very motivating for some people since they don’t want to feel as though their money is being wasted.
If you don’t have the option to pay for classes, there are still ways that you can get some money involved and increase your motivation. For example, maybe you buy yourself a new pair of sneakers or a new jump rope for the gym, or you can hire one of our personal trainers to meet with you a couple of times per week.
Don’t Do It Alone
You don’t have to be a solo exerciser if that doesn’t appeal to you. Working out with a friend doesn’t just provide accountability and ensure you stick to your schedule. It can also make exercise more fun and allows you to kill two birds with stone (you get to socialize and work toward your fitness goals).
If you don’t have any friends who want to exercise with you, you can still enjoy the benefits of combining social time and workout time by attending a group fitness class.
Many people have a hard time being consistent with fitness until they experience working out in a group. When you’re surrounded by people who are all doing the same thing as you work toward goals that are likely similar to yours, you might find yourself feeling inspired and motivated to keep pushing yourself and sticking with your workout routine.
Measure Your Progress
Finally, don’t forget to measure your progress. When you can see your body changing or see yourself moving closer toward your goals, it’ll be easier for you to stay motivated and be consistent.
Think back to your motivation. Why are you working out? How can you measure your progress?
If your goal is to lose weight, for example, you can track your weight on the scale each week or take progress pictures to see how your body is changing over time. If your goal is to improve your blood sugar levels, you can measure your blood sugar each day and keep track of how it changes to determine whether or not it’s improving.
No matter what your goal is, keep in mind that it’s helpful to have multiple methods in place for measuring progress.
Let’s use the weight loss example again. If you’re only tracking your scale weight and find that the number doesn’t move for a couple of weeks, you might start to lose your motivation. If you’re also taking measurements or progress photos, though, you’ll be able to still see changes even if the scale isn’t budging.
Start Being More Consistent with Exercise Today
Are you ready to make a change? Do you want to start reaping all the physical and mental health benefits of being active on a regular basis?
Keep these tips on how to be more consistent with exercise in mind and you’ll have no trouble establishing a long-lasting, healthy habit.
Are you looking for more health and fitness advice? If so, check out some of our nutrition resources or get started with our group classes.