The temptation to skip out on exercising can be strong. Working out can be exhausting, tedious, and physically demanding. Who could blame you for wanting to skip your gym time and catch up on reading or watch TV? Most people don’t like washing dishes either or pulling weeds, but these kinds of routine activities are necessary to keep things going. Your body is no different: it needs activity and stimulation to stay in tip-top shape. Regular exercise can be challenging but the rewards are worth it.
If you want to improve your physical and mental health, find a way to love working out. Here are a few techniques to help you get there.
Make It A Social Activity
A great way to stay motivated and make exercise more fun is to make it a group activity. Working out with an exercise partner and/or having an accountability buddy gives you a reason to keep going even on days when you want to stay home. Working out with friends can also encourage you to push yourself and challenge yourself to keep up with their level of progression. A little friendly competition can be a good thing.
Focus On Your Strengths
A lot of times exercising feels like a bad experience because you’re doing the wrong kind. Find out what works best for you. You may hate running but love swimming. Weight training might be tedious but perhaps you enjoy high-energy sports like basketball or tennis. Look at the physical activities you already do for fun outside of exercising and see which might translate to exercise. While a good workout routine is a holistic one (don’t skip leg day!), having at least one form of exercise in the mix that you can look forward to will make the whole experience better.
Working out is a great time for popping in some earbuds and listening to music, catching up on podcasts, or making progress on an audiobook. Research has found that listening to music while exercising has benefits beyond entertaining you: music can distract you from pain and fatigue, elevate your mood, and in some cases promote metabolic efficiency. Exercising seems to take less effort while you're listening to audio - researchers have noted many cases where people ran farther and biked longer while listening to music without even realizing how far they've gone.
Reward Yourself As You Progress
Another way to make working out more pleasurable is to gamify it. Gamification involves setting tiers of milestones and creating a reward system that you give yourself as you make progress. The rewards can range from small things like “get a fancy coffee drink” or “buy a blu-ray you want to watch” to high-end rewards like “treat yourself to a vacation.” Having fun treats to dangle in front of you like a carrot in front of a horse is a simple yet effective way to spur yourself forward and keep improving to stay on target.
Variety Is The Spice Of Workout Life
Variety is essential to staying engaged with your exercise routine. Learning new workouts isn’t just mentally engaging (and keeps you from getting bored with doing the same old thing), it’s critical for making continuous progress in your fitness plan. There’s a phenomenon called adaptive resistance that kicks in once you’ve done the same kind of exercise over a long period of time;Your body adapts to the activity and no longer responds to it. Think of it like building up tolerance for a drug but for exercise.
When this resistance occurs, switching to a new kind of exercise creates a new stimulus that activates and energizes different muscle groups. It’s also crucial to avoid adaptive resistance because it can make you more prone to injury: doing the same kind of exercise for too long works the same muscles in the same pattern over and over, which can cause wear and tear. Switching to different workouts gives those muscles time to recover.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
This last principle is also the easiest to incorporate into your daily routine: examine your diet. If you feel low energy while working out, if you tire easily, if it feels too hard, there’s a good chance it might be that you’re not getting the right nutrition to energize you and support your physical activity. There’s an expression in computer programming: “garbage in, garbage out.” The same principle applies to our diet. You want to stay well hydrated and have enough proteins, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and nutrients in your system to fuel your workouts.
Don’t skip fats! Fatty foods often contain critical vitamins like A, D, E, and K that we need for our bodies to properly function. A healthy way to get these is through unsaturated fats like nuts, avocado, flaxseed, and olive and canola oils.
Article by Austin Brietta
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