10 Tips That Can Help You to Start Exercising
Even if you hate the gym
Humans are made to move. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, being physically active for more than 150 minutes a week is associated with a variety of health benefits, including:
- Lower risk of all-cause mortality
- Lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke
- Lower risk of hypertension
- Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- Lower risk of certain cancers, including bladder, breast and colon cancer
- Reduced risk of dementia
- Improved quality of life
- Reduced anxiety and risk of depression
- Improved sleep
However, only 50 percent of adults in the U.S. are meeting these guidelines. And according to the United Health Foundation, 25.6% of adult Americans reported engaging in no physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services also estimates that about $117 billion in annual health care costs and 10% of premature deaths (!) can be associated with the lack of physical activity.
How can you motivate yourself to exercise if you hate going to the gym?
#1 Create a pro and cons list
This sounds like an awkward first step to start living a healthier life, but it’s a powerful one. Here’s why: often, we assume the barriers of engaging in a healthy behavior (effort, time, money, etc.) are higher than its benefits (improved health, increased energy, better mood, etc.). Writing benefits and barriers on a piece f paper can help you to put things in perspective.
For example, are the barriers to taking a 10-minute walk every day really higher than its benefits? Or: isn’t it worth to invest in an occasional yoga class worth its positive impact on your mental and physical health? Give the list a try. You might be surprised how quickly it can get you off the couch.
#2 All movement counts
The exercise guidelines of th United States Department of Health and Human Services suggest 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. Ideally, this includes a mix of aerobic activities and some form of resistance training.
Reaching or exceeding the 150 minutes might be easier than you think. It’s not necessary to follow a strict exercise program. All movement is good movement. Walk whenever you have a chance to, do yard work, take your bike, run up and down the stairs. There are so many options to move more.
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#3 Combine exercise with something you like
You don’t enjoy walking, but you like listening to podcasts or audiobooks? You don’t like stretching, but watching Netflix? You don’t like running, but being out in nature? Combine these activities to incentivize yourself for exercising.
For example, like most people, I find stretching boring. So I do it while watching one of my favorite TV shows.
#4 Team up
Working out with a friend can increase your accountability to show up and makes exercising more fun. It’s easier to press the snooze button and skip the gym if you don’t have somebody waiting for you.
For example, my dog is my workout buddy. He needs to go out no matter if it rains or shines, so I have no excuse letting him down.
It can also be helpful to find a workout buddy that has more experience and can help you understand how to approach specific exercises. Apart from that, it can be motivating to train with somebody that likes to work out.
#5 Go outside
Walking, running, or doing an outdoor workout will not only make you fit but happy. According to research, connecting with nature can increase your overall chances of happiness.
Apart from that, being exposed to natural light can improve your circadian rhythm and release serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that improves your mood and lowers your stress levels.
#6 Start small
According to my experience, the №1 excuse that people use when dropping out of an exercise program is “I don’t have time.” However, most of us can find 10 minutes per day to exercise, so why not start there?
10 minutes is better than no exercise at all.
Apart from that, you might just want to continue once you got started, even if you previously only committed to working out for 10 minutes. The mental threshold of doing a quick 10-minute program is much lower than forcing yourself to get through a 60-minute session.
#7 Join a group class
Group classes can be motivating and fun. Trying new activities such as Yoga, Pilates, or Bootcamps is a great way to switch up your workout routine and to get inspiration for your workouts.
Most boutique gyms offer free trial sessions, so you can try different classes until you found one that fits you best.
#8 Information & education
Getting information about different workout styles, exercise facilities, or hiking trails can help you to get excited and prepared. This way, you can prevent what I call “gym shock”: you go to the gym with best intentions, but then arrive and don’t know what to do, ending up frustrated and discouraged.
#9 Get support
This is not an advertisement for my profession, but investing 1 or 2 hours to work with a professional trainer can help you to understand where you can start and what you can do without harming your health. Some personal trainers offer free assessments or consultations, as well.
#10 Try to turn exercise into a habit
Getting started is hard; continuing is even harder. However, once exercise becomes a habit, and you start feeling its mental and physical benefits, you might start enjoying it.
According to a UCL study, it can take anywhere from 18–254 days to change a habit, so it can be a good strategy to use some tricks that help you to get through the first few weeks:
- Schedule your workouts or activities.
- Put your gym back or running shoes in a visible place, so you get reminded to work out every time you walk by.
- Track your progress to acknowledge your efforts. You can use a journal, a fitness tracker, or just put notes in your calendar whenever you successfully completed a session, walk, etc.
If you’re interested in breaking or building habits, here an article you might like:
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In good health,