Struggling to find the motivation to exercise? You’re not alone: Recent research shows that just over 50% of adults meet the aerobic guidelines set by the American Heart Association, 35% meet muscle-strengthening guidelines, and just under 30% meet both aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines.
The good news is you don’t have to belong to a gym to get enough exercise to improve your health. There are a lot of ways to make regular physical activity part of your daily life — which can help you have more energy, manage stress, reduce your risk of illness and disease, sleep better, and look and feel good!
So how can you start a lasting exercise habit? Here are some tips to help you add physical activity to your life – and maybe even learn to like it!
Find your jam.
Instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, find ways to exercise that fit your personality and interests. If you’re a social person, do something that engages you socially — take a group dance class, join a recreational sports team or start a walking group with friends. Connecting with others is a great way to stay motivated and avoid working out alone.
If you’re more of a lone wolf, jogging or swimming might be a better fit. And if you’re not a morning person, you’re less likely to get up at the crack of dawn to make a boot camp class. You may want to get some weights and bands to workout at home instead.
Give it time.
It can take a while for a new behavior to become a habit, so give yourself time to get into a regular routine. Eventually, exercise can become addictive in a good way. Once it becomes a habit, you’ll notice when you aren’t doing it.
One way to build a consistent habit of exercising is to try to be active around the same time each day. Try to make sure it’s a time that you can stick to. For example, if you are a morning person, you can exercise as a part of your morning routine.
Build it in.
There are many ways to fit exercise into your life, and it doesn’t mean you have to give up something else, such as time with family and friends. As much as possible, build activity into your schedule and lifestyle so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Get active together as a family, you’ll all benefit. And if you just can’t imagine life without your daily phone chat with your best friend, take that call for a walk around the neighborhood.
Break it up.
It’s OK to fit in physical activity when you can. The AHA recommends a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week — that’s a little more than 20 minutes a day. Doing two or three short activity sessions most days of the week adds up! You could do a quick yoga routine when you wake up, take a brisk walk after lunch, and if you commute with public transportation, get off a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way home.
If you miss a day or a workout, don’t worry. Everybody struggles once in a while. Just make sure you hit it again the next day. And if what you’re doing just isn’t working for you, revisit this list. You may need to try a different activity or a different time of day. But whatever you do, don’t give up!