My brother hates going to the gym this time of year. Apparently it’s inundated with people who’ve resolved to get in shape, which would be fine if a) they took the time to know how to use the equipment, and b) if they were actually going to continue. But most of them don’t last beyond the end of the month.
Those who make such resolutions likely do so with the best of intentions. After all, the benefits of exercise are hardly a secret. It boosts your energy, improves your mood, activates your metabolism, helps prevent injury and osteoporosis, improves sleep, and more. Yet somehow knowing that doesn’t always make it any easier to be motivated.
If you find that you fall into this category, here are some suggestions from my own experience.
Find an activity that you really enjoy. If you don’t like it, odds are you won’t continue. You want something that leaves you feeling energized, clear-headed, and ready to truly live.
Remember that those activities don’t have to be at the gym. Dance, sports, chasing your child in play, climbing, walking, yoga, stretching – all can be done without a gym membership.
Pick a time of day that works for you. Personally, by the time I get home, the last thing I usually want to do is exercise, so I do it in the morning. But my brother (and others) prefer afternoon or evening. The key is finding what works for you and your lifestyle.
Think positively. Although we may all know the health benefits of exercise, we may not consciously think of them, and remembering how you feel post-exercise can help get you moving.
Consider your terminology. If you find the word “hate” is synonymous with “exercise” in your mind, you might want to think of it as activity or movement.
Start small. Do just 10-15 minutes to start – that may be enough for you to notice your energy picking up, and to remember that you do enjoy it (see #1).
As an example, I love to go for morning walks, but this time of year, when it’s cold and dark early, I may hesitate. Then I remember why I like them – peace, calm, having time to think through things or maybe not think at all, catching some gorgeous sunrises, feeling focused and energized to start my day.
That’s enough to get me out the door, even if that means donning multiple layers. (Note that I don’t go out if it’s sleeting or really icy – safety comes first.) And once I’m out, I revel in it. I may even come back inspired, a poem brimming or ready to tackle some long-ignored project.
I hope that you, too, can find what moves you to move, and that you can do it for more than just these few early weeks of the new year.