A common term used interchangeably with exercise is “working out.” You work out at the gym. You set aside time in your day to work out. You hope that your workout routine will lead to positive weight loss and fitness results.
You tell your friends you have been working out. They ask what you do as a workout and you describe the lengths you run or the weights you lift. They wish you the best in hopes that your new habits work out in the long run.
Throughout these conversations you have with your friends and family—and, quite frankly, with yourself—you are developing an attitude that exercise is work.
Is it ironic that a popular alternative for a term like exercise that is such an immensely healthy and positive behavior is associated with work? After all, we rise from bed early to go to work (sometimes begrudgingly), we create lists of chores for work that needs to be done around the house, we help our children with their homework and look forward to the times when our work is done.
It seems, then, that the last thing we want to do is introduce more work into our daily routines! Developing new, positive habits in our daily lives does at first take effort and concentration. Even experts say that creating fulfilling behavioral changes will likely be unpleasant in the moment before they truly pay off.
Still, it could be the case that in trying to make real change towards a healthier lifestyle, you are tricking yourself into thinking that regular exercise is in some way a negative behavior by calling it “work.”
Even if the terms you use for trips to the local gym or jogs around the neighborhood track or trail are a matter of semantics, there are a number of proven tricks and tips you can implement into your normal exercise routine to make your daily physical activity more mentally enjoyable.
Here are a few:
Develop a routine
Many researchers have recently published studies on how impactful daily routines are in the formative years of childhood. The repetition of regular behaviors such as bathing and feeding times allows for feelings of safety and security within what may otherwise seem like a hectic environment.
The benefits of routines long outlast our childhood as they account for stability and self-discipline in our adult lives, as well. When your daily activities consist of taking a shower right after you wake up, then fixing breakfast before heading off to work, you don’t question it. You just do it!
When you incorporate exercise into your daily routine, eventually your evening jaunt or morning stroll will become second nature. Instead of seeming like a foreign affair, it will become stranger to not exercise during the day. Soon, it will become so natural, you’ll wonder what life was like without routine exercise.
Go at the right time
Are you an early riser? Do you find that you’re more clear-headed and productive at day break? Or is it a struggle to get out of bed? Would you rather be somewhat of a nighthawk, tackling extra tasks after dark before bed?
These questions matter when maintaining a regular exercise schedule. If being physically active is a hassle to accomplish within your daily routine, you won’t want to continue to exercise!
It might be best for you to get your blood moving and your exercise out of the way right at the beginning of the day. It could be that you need to work up the energy and mental preparation to get the most of out your exercise in the evening. Maybe you can fit in a yoga class during lunchtime.
Whichever you choose, make sure this is a time you are able to focus clearly on achieving your fitness goals above all else.
Choose the right music
While it may be an obvious suggestion to have your headphones accompany you to the gym, new research is showing how and why music is a great ally to your positive exercise habits.
In a recent study, British researchers found that, while listening to certain music didn’t make exercise easier, per se, it was a great motivating factor for helping individuals push themselves hard enough to achieve their goals. Up-tempo music, in particular, showed the best results for positively distracting athletes into thinking less about the discomfort of their workout.
Music also helps you keep a steady pace throughout your exercise, puts you in a better mood, promotes greater effort and puts you in the “zone” so you can maintain a healthy focus.
Wear the right clothes
Factors such as weather, comfortability and the type of physical activity you plan to do are all apparent reasons for choosing the right type of clothing to exercise in. More often than not, we instinctively grab the clothes that are available and don’t think twice about it.
One important and oft-overlooked factor to choosing the right exercise clothing is self-confidence. It’s natural to be conscientious of your body image when working out, especially if a slimmer or more toned appearance is part of your fitness goals. Being confident in the way you look and feel in your clothes has a huge impact on the productivity of your exercise.
The more you time you spend being self-conscious or comparing yourself to others, the less time you can spend honing in on your fitness goals and pushing your limits.
Go with friends, partners
Buddying up with a friend or family member can enhance your exercise routine in several ways. If you ever question your form for a certain stretch or lift, your partner is an extra set of eyes. If you need a spot to push your weight-lifting limits, they are there to help.
When you know your friend has taken time out of their day to exercise, you certainly want to be considerate of the importance of making their time well spent. You’ll likely find the time fly by quicker than normal with a partner and you can both share in your success when you’ve finished.
Besides, everything feels better when done with company!
As with anything in life, smiling is the best possible medicine. It’s more than a cliché, too. It’s positive effects are proven!