January is often the time we decide to take charge of our health and resolve to change our eating and exercise habits for the better. The new year brings along with it a fresh start, and a perfect blank canvas to create new, healthy habits. However, these habits don’t last long for most of us – according to data from Gold’s Gym, most people end up breaking their resolutions (at least the ones related to exercise) on February 18. If you’d like to make your resolution to exercise more a habit that lasts all year long, try these tips to stay motivated until February 18 – and beyond:
- Set realistic goals. If you’re a couch potato who vowed to exercise 7 days a week come January 1, chances are good that your resolution has already been broken. Setting reasonable expectations for yourself will ensure you have the time, energy, and interest needed to help you reach your goal.
- Start slowly. Like setting realistic expectations, starting slowly will help you feel like your goal is more attainable, and you’ll be less likely to suffer fatigue or burnout if you ease into your healthy transition.
- Think about how much better you feel when you’re active. It’s easy to come up with excuses for why you don’t want to exercise, but it’s even easier to think of how good you’ll feel after you do. The next time you claim you’re too tired to be active, think back to a time you managed to fit in a quick workout and remember how good your mind and body felt afterward. Use that memory to help fuel your next exercise session.
- Schedule some exercise on your calendar. If you’re like me, you rely on a calendar (whether on your desk, phone, or Outlook) to keep your schedule straight. You know you have to attend a meeting or perform a work-related task if it’s on your calendar, so why not pencil (or type) a regular workout in there as well? You’ll be more likely to commit to exercise if you look at it as part of your schedule.
- Think outside the box – try a new activity. It’s understandable to lose interest if you stick with the same types of activity day in and day out. When you feel your motivation slipping, think about activities you haven’t performed before, but are interested in, and give them a try. Who knows – you might just find the workout you’ll want to stick with for years to come.
- Use the buddy system. Exercising with a buddy is a great way to stay accountable and receive the support you need to work out regularly. Remember that your buddy is probably looking forward to working out with you and wants to get healthy together – you wouldn’t want to let him or her down, would you? Think of your exercise buddy as your own personal cheerleader, and use them to your advantage whenever you don’t have the motivation to exercise.
- Add exercise in whenever you can. Physical activity doesn’t have to take the form of a 60-minute exercise class or a long run. Challenge yourself to be active in creative ways at work, at home, and when out with friends. Anything that gets your heart rate up – walking meetings, cleaning the house, or going bowling after work – counts as activity.