You know you should exercise more. But what you should do, and what you actually do aren’t always the same thing. After all, you’re only human. And even when you do manage to make it to the gym it’s easy to get overwhelmed or discouraged and quit.
But getting started—and STICKING with it—doesn’t have to be such a challenge. Following are eight no sweat tricks that’ll have you donning your workout duds with a smile.
1. Make it convenient:
If the walking path, gym or aerobics class is too far away—or on the other end of an hour struggle through traffic—you won’t go. Set yourself up for success, not failure. Find a spot and activity that’s close enough to be convenient and accessible and you’ll be much more likely to go.
2. Like the space:
Most folks overlook how important the environment is to their workouts. That’s a problem because it’s really important, especially when you’re trying to get motivated to exercise in the first place.
It doesn’t matter how many other people love the bright purple walls at the studio, or don’t mind walking along the busy road. If you’re uncomfortable for any reason, you won’t want to keep going back there. Find yourself a location you look forward to being and you’ll look forward to working out.
3. Do what you enjoy:
There are countless ways to work out these days. Gone are the days when your only choices were lifting weights or calisthenics, and if you didn’t like either of them you were out of luck.
Go for a walk or a swim. Take a dance class or try yoga. There are literally dozens of different cardio classes. Maybe you’ll even discover that you love lifting weights. Whatever your fitness level, and whatever your interests, there’s going to be a workout out there that you enjoy. Don’t give up until you find it.
4. Start with the 5-Minute Plan:
If it’s been awhile since you’ve gotten any formal exercise, first talk to your doctor. Then start out slow with the 5-Minute Plan.
The idea is to keep yourself moving for five minutes flat, no more and no less. It can be a swift walk around the neighborhood or dancing around the dining room table to your favorite tunes. The activity you choose doesn’t matter as long as it’s something that gets your heartbeat up and your blood pumping.
For the first week set a timer and be sure to keep moving for the entire five minutes. When the bell rings stop. For week two add a minute to the timer and stay in motion for the full six minutes. Keep adding a minute each week and before you know it you will have worked your way up to fifteen minutes, and then a half an hour.
5. Let go of perfection:
So what if you don’t get every pose in your yoga class just right? Who cares if you have to do your push-ups against a wall instead of stretched out on your toes? Or that you don’t fit into your exercise duds quite like you used to?
Perfection shouldn’t ever be your goal. Good form so you don’t injure yourself, moving enough to get your heart rate up and having fun are what matters. Let go of the rest.
6. Use the buddy system:
Studies show having someone else hold you accountable for sticking to your exercise routine works better than trying to go it alone. And thanks to smartphones and the internet your workout cheerleader doesn’t even have to be close by anymore.
Simply find a workout buddy and commit to not letting each other down. Check in with your friend regularly to be sure she’s sticking to her exercise plan, and ask her to do the same for you.
7. Switch up your workouts:
Doing the same thing over and over (and over) again can get boring, no matter how much you love it. So find two or three activities you like to do in order to fend off boredom. Then simply switch up your exercise routine anytime you feel your interest waning.
8. Keep track:
There’s something satisfying about filling a calendar with check marks or crossing lines off to-do lists. So make sure that you find a way to give yourself the satisfaction that comes with seeing your goals met, whether it’s a calendar on the wall or a wearable tracker that records your steps and calories burned. After all, you’re less likely to skip a day if it’s the only one missing a check mark.
If you haven’t had luck sticking with exercise in the past don’t throw in the towel yet. These no sweat tricks can help you finally get started and stay started.