We all know exercise is good for us, but it doesn’t always make it easier to actually get moving and do that workout. Unless you are injured or have a personal reason why you are unable to exercise, there are lots of motivational tools you can implement to help get you back on your feet (or in the saddle!).
Just like our bodies need training and nourishment, our brains likewise sometimes need that little bit of encouragement to discipline our mindsets into a healthy exercise routine.
Here are some top tips on how to get yourself motivated to get the sweat on!
A sense of community
Building a sense of community through exercise can be very rewarding. It is a great way of finding the type of exercise you love and surrounding yourself with others that love it, too.
Exercising with someone else can be a huge motivator. There is a large social aspect to exercise, and having your friends supporting you and celebrating your fitness achievements makes the experience more enjoyable and therefore something you want to keep returning to enjoying.
You can achieve this by joining a group class at YMCA Gym in Nottingham city centre and working out together, jogging with a buddy or even just having a friend who holds you accountable for making the fitness effort (even if they do not necessarily work out with you). The hardest part of exercise can sometimes be getting off the sofa. Once you are getting stuck into fitness and surrounded by smiling people who build you up and help you to feel valued, the rest will fall into place more easily.
Our YMCA Gym Fitness Advisors are always on hand to provide guidance and encouragement when setting your attainable personal fitness goals, championing the charity’s attitude that no one gets left behind.
Put on a great playlist
Music is more powerful than you think for influencing our mood. Listening to some upbeat music can be encouraging and help to get you moving. It can be a great way of making exercise fun and if something is enjoyable, you are far more inclined to do it.
Curating your own personalised workout playlist can help make sure you are listening to exactly what gets you going – just remember to keep adding new tunes to your playlist to mix it up.
Exercise has many well-known rewards, such as better overall health, enhanced fitness, improved sleep, mental wellbeing and so much more. These benefits can often take a little while to show themselves and you often need something more immediate to motivate you to get to that stage.
An effective tactic, particularly at the beginning of your fitness journey, is to give yourself more tangible rewards; ones that are personalised to you and will release the positive endorphins your brain craves. This could be looking forward to an episode of your favourite TV show or a delicious snack to enjoy after your workout.
Establishing the following reward pattern can help create structure to your routines:
- Trigger (e.g. getting your trainers out)
- Routine (e.g. going for a run, working out in your living room or taking a fitness class at YMCA Gym)
- Reward (e.g. watching a television episode with friends or a tasty treat)
This helps to allow your brain to make the association between the exercise and the reward that follows, therefore subconsciously motivating you to work out. Eventually, you can trick your brain into not even needing the reward as the habit becomes strong enough that the natural release of endorphins from the exercise is enough to keep you going.
Spice it up a bit
If you are doing the same routine over and over again, it is no real surprise if motivation wanes. You would soon lose interest in something you like if you were forced to have it on repeat, so do not treat exercise any differently.
Not only does this keep maintaining health and fitness more interesting, but it also helps train all of your body and muscle groups. You could even try a combination of running, yoga, weights, Zumba, Spin or any number of exercises you enjoy. The key is that you do not set yourself up to do a form of exercise that you do not enjoy.
Journal your post-workout feelings
Even on days when you do not feel like hitting the gym, the smallest gentle stretches or taking care of your personal nutrition with a balanced diet can make you feel better.
Scientifically, endorphins released from exercise make you feel energised, but it is not always easy remembering that feel-good buzz you got from the last workout. By writing down your fitness activities in a journal, you can look back on how you felt and perhaps begin to notice a pattern of positivity, which is worth working out to enjoy the personal gains.
Cut down on unhealthy foods
Although many of us love a tasty bag of chips or that fifth doughnut, unhealthy food often makes it harder to exercise because, when you eat highly processed or sugary foods, it can make your body feel tired and sluggish.
Swapping your sugary cereal for porridge or your chocolate snacks for fruit can really help! You can still tuck into the foods you love, just make sure you enjoy them in moderation.
It is important to note that every body type is different, and our Fitness Advisors can help you identify the best balanced diet that is right for your wonderful unique self.
Figure out the best time
Everyone will have a preferred time of day to exercise. There is no one time that is better than the other; it is entirely based on personal preference. It is a good idea to figure out which part of the day is best for you so you can make adjustments that make it easier to stick to that time.
If you are an early riser and want to exercise before work, sleeping nearby your workout clothes and putting your alarm out of reach can help get you started as soon as you wake up.
Alternatively, if you prefer exercising during lunchtime or after work, try doing it before you go home. Bring a change of clothes with you to work and avoid distractions that could encourage you to not work out. Capitalising on times when your energy is at its peak means you can get the most out of your session and relax when you get home. Having said that, many people enjoy yoga or meditation exercises before bed to help unwind after a long day – so set your exercise objectives and find the times that work best for you.
Break it down
Sometimes the idea of a full workout can seem daunting and gruelling. Rather than tackling that idea full on, break down the steps into small chunks. Tell yourself that all you need to do is put on your workout clothes and do a warm up. This gets you moving and the endorphins already begin to release so there is a good chance you will want to keep moving, and before you know it, you will be ploughing into your session and loving every second!
It’s time to get moving…
There is no doubt that getting the motivation to exercise can be hard if you are not naturally inclined to work out. Remember that it is always easier to keep going than it is to get started, so we hope you can use some of these motivational tips to make that transition from the sofa to an active, happier you!
As a non-profit community-centric charity, YMCA Gym prioritises personal journeys over fitness goals, and being part of our gym community is just as much about growing in your mind, body and spirit as it is about exercise.