To Avoid Missing Workouts, Make Exercise Work for You

Having trouble finding the motivation to exercise? It happens to the best of us—a busy schedule or a nasty cold can throw even the most determined person off their game. Yet, the trick to staying motivated may be easier than you think, according to an article on After researching motivation for 20 years, Michelle Segar, PhD, who was quoted in the article and is director of the Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan, nailed down these tips to boost willpower and turn exercise into a life-long habit:

  • Everything counts. Throughout the day, we all participate in physical activity. Everything from walking across the parking lot to playing tag with your kids is exercise. So count it! If you give yourself credit for being active you’re more likely to feel successful, leading to higher energy overall.
  • Focus on what you can do. If you find yourself skipping workouts because you’re short on time, try to think of quick exercises you can fit in. Jog up and down the stairs for 10 minutes or do a quick ab workout while you’re waiting for a meeting to begin. Remember, everything counts!
  • Choose exercises that feel good. Quit doing exercises you don’t enjoy; you’re more likely to give up if you don’t like your workout. Instead, choose activities you love, whether it’s hiking, swimming, or dancing—if you enjoy it—you’re more likely to keep doing it.
  • Identify your goals. Don’t exercise just because you “should.” Exercise for yourself and identify why you’re doing it. You may be exercising to reduce stress, improve your mood, or catch up with a friend. Whatever the reason, make sure you’re working toward something you want.
  • Don’t take on too much at once. When first forming healthy habits, it’s easy to get excited and take on too much at once, only to get overwhelmed and burn out. Instead, try focusing on just one healthy routine first, like a new workout. Once that’s a habit, add something else into the mix, like a more balanced diet.

Segar puts it best when she says, “Do the physical movement you want to do, when you want to do it, for the amount of time your life allows.” And remember to have fun! There’s nothing more motivating than that.


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