For those of you who started our 10-week workout routine when we launched it five weeks ago, this is the week you should be adding more time to the aerobic component—either a fourth 30-minute workout a week or an extra 10 minutes tacked on to your sessions. But how, visitors have asked, do you motivate yourself to stay with an exercise program? Here are six tips.
- Find an activity you enjoy. Don't get caught up with what you think exercise should be; if you don't enjoy running or step classes, don't do them! Try walking, dancing, rowing, or whatever makes you happy. (Last fall, Lance Armstrong revealed what ultimately inspired his comeback: He missed biking for hours on end.)
- Tell yourself you have to work out for only 10 minutes. I had a revelation when I interviewed a pro triathlete a few years ago; she told me that she often dreaded her long bike rides ahead of time. We have this idea that getting out the door must be easy and natural for the people who exercise consistently, but in fact, even those people have days when they'd rather stay home. So sometimes, yes, you're going to have to suck it up and exercise anyway. But you can trick yourself by promising an out after a short time: Once you're warmed up, you'll very likely want to keep going.
- Make it as easy as possible to get to your workouts. Remove potential obstacles ahead of time; think of it as clearing the easiest path from a state of rest to exercise at full throttle. If you're never able to take the time to get to the gym, work out at home. (Here are 8 ideas for building a $100 home gym.) Make sure your workout gear is ready to go when you need it—have your clothes and shoes next to the bed, for example, if you work out in the morning.
- Mix it up. Doing the same routine every time gets boring—and, because your body gets used to it, produces diminishing returns. I wrote a few weeks ago about how to shake up your strength routine; you can do the same with aerobic exercise. Try a new route or a new class. Or incorporate intervals—short bursts of higher intensity exercise—into your routine. (Here's how to make your workout quick and sweaty.)
- Make it as fun as possible. Sometimes, a new mix on your iPod can do wonders. (Here's how music can put a spring in your routine.) Or indulge in a new piece of workout gear—I haven't ever scrapped my totally unscientific childhood belief that a new pair of kicks makes you run faster.
- Find company. Whether it's a significant other—here's how and why my boyfriend and I tried working out together—or a friend, working out with someone else is a great way to stay motivated. Consider 10 tips for working out with a partner.