Fitness plan drawn out on chalkboard

Meeting fitness goals can be hard work. The Mayo Clinic estimates that people should aim for at least 30 minutes of activity a day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. People who want to lose weight or attain other fitness goals may need to work out even more. For many of us, finding time for exercise can be a chore: We have to wake up extra early in the morning to squeeze in a workout before heading to the office, or we have to rush to the gym straight from work.

By now, though, most of us know that exercise has been linked to longer lifespans. Working out has many health benefits, from reducing the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes to improving overall mood and mental health.

Our attitudes about working out can impact our health just as much as exercise itself. People who believe they don’t work out enough compared to others their own age were more likely to die, regardless of other factors affecting their health, according to a study published in Health Psychology.

In this article, we’ll show you why attitude has such a profound impact on health and offer some plans and tips on how to achieve your fitness goals in the new year.

Why Does Motivation Matter?

Why is it that our attitudes about working out have such a deep and lasting impact on our health and overall longevity? The authors of the Health Psychology study have a few theories. For one, these attitudes could have a kind of reverse placebo effect. Just like the belief that receiving pain medication can trigger pain relievers in the brain, the belief that you’re not getting enough exercise can lessen the benefits of your exercise. Alternately, comparing yourself to others might demotivate you over time, leading to a drop-off in workouts.

Common Demotivators and Their Solutions

There are many negative thoughts surrounding exercise that may prevent us from actually working out. Some common reasons for avoiding workouts include:

  • Lack of time
  • Lack of energy/strength
  • No exercise partner
  • Self-conscious about appearance
  • Poor health
  • Bad weather
  • No nearby workout facilities
  • Fear of falling

While these are all legitimate concerns, there are solutions for each of them. For example, prioritizing exercise and planning it into your days can help with time constraints or scheduling problems, and starting slowly will increase your strength and energy over time. Going to a gym or exercise class can help you meet new friends to work out with. If you’re worried about your physical appearance, try focusing more on what you are accomplishing instead of how you look. Working with a trainer can help you find a plan that is safe for any level of health, fitness, or ability. Finally, there are many places to exercise: at home, in a gym, or outside, weather permitting.

Ways to Motivate Yourself

If you’re struggling to find ways to encourage yourself to work out or you feel like you aren’t working hard enough, try some of these techniques to put yourself in the right frame of mind.

  • Listen to audiobooks while you work out. That way, you have to keep going in order to find out what happens next.
  • Set small goals. You will feel empowered once you meet them.
  • Track your successes. You will be able to see all of the improvements you make over time.

However, a study from the University of Pennsylvania has found that the absolute best way to motivate yourself is to find some healthy competition. Grab a friend, and set fitness goals. There’s nothing more motivating than being accountable to someone else.

Implementing a Fitness Routine

Before you lace up those running shoes and get a gym membership, find a fitness routine that works for you.

First, determine your fitness level. You can do this by calculating your resting heart rate, waist measurements, and body mass index (BMI). Record how long it takes you to walk a mile or run a mile and a half; see how many push-ups and sit-ups you can do at once.

Next, design a fitness routine. You will need to determine your fitness goals. Make sure your routine is balanced and that you start slowly, especially if you do not regularly exercise. Remember to write out your plan, building in different types of exercise and allowing yourself time to recover. You’ll also need to assemble whatever equipment is appropriate for the plan you’ve designed. A good pair of athletic shoes is a must. Other examples of equipment could be a gym membership, home workout equipment or videos, or fitness trackers and apps.

Start slowly and build gradually. You don’t want to do too much too fast and injure yourself. Don’t be afraid to get creative or break up the routine. Above all, listen to your body. Finally, monitor your progress. This will tell you whether your fitness program is actually working. Plus, it will be rewarding to look back over the hard work you have done and see what your body can do now.

Budget-Friendly Fitness Tips

It can be expensive to implement a new fitness routine, especially around the holidays when so many other events and obligations demand our resources. Here are some ways to get active that don’t cost a thing.

  • Run outside.
  • Watch fitness channels on YouTube.
  • Run up and down the stairs.
  • Do as many sit-ups, push-ups, and jumping jacks as you can during commercial breaks.

Exercise is one of the main ways to live a longer, healthier life. Having the right attitude about exercising can be just as important to your health as what you do.

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