We all know exercise is necessary to maintain a healthy weight, but we don’t often think about the other benefits. Fitness explained the positive effects start to take hold the instant you get moving, strengthening your lungs and boosting your mood.
Make it a habit and you’ll reduce your risk of cancer, lower your heart rate, and add years to your life. But don’t be discouraged if you’re not a seasoned athlete, because every little bit helps. Health reported that any amount of physical activity is better than none. The article revealed findings from multiple studies that found walking anywhere from one to 74 minutes per week can reduce the risk of death by 19%.
While the national guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week, you might want to consider focusing on more challenging efforts. Forbes reported findings from a study that found subjects who regularly incorporated vigorous workouts into their routine experienced a reduced risk of mortality compared to those who only engaged in moderate activities. Klause Gebel, one of the study’s authors, told the publication, “if you can manage some vigorous activity it could offer significant benefits for longevity.”
Even armed with this knowledge, it can be tough to work up the motivation to get your heart pumping. People who enjoy working out still struggle from time to time, whether it’s due to exhaustion or because they simply don’t feel like it. Instead of throwing in the towel, chase away those blah feelings with these 5 tips. You’ll be on your way to a happier, healthier day in no time.
1. Make it social hour
Getting together with friends is tricky when you’re juggling a crazy schedule. Instead of picking between working out and meeting up with a pal, combine the two and you’ll score tons of benefits. Men’s Fitness explained that working out with a partner holds you accountable. It might not be a big deal to skip a workout by yourself, but blowing off a friend is another story.
Working up a sweat with a pal also means you’ll have more fun as you exercise. It’s tempting to stare at the clock or watch the distance increments creep up when you’re stranded on treadmill, but you’ll never have to worry about that if you have some company. By the time you’ve had a chance to catch up, your workout will be finished. FitDay explained you’ll stop dreading a trip to the gym and start looking forward to it.
While having a buddy along is usually a great idea, make sure you choose wisely. Women’s Health recommended picking someone who’s near your fitness level so neither of you becomes discouraged. If your best friend is an all-star athlete and you’re a beginner, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
2. Give yourself rewards for attaining goals
Setting goals for your fitness efforts is always a good idea, but only if you get something out of it. If there’s no celebration following a great race or losing the final 5 pounds, you might find yourself wondering what the whole point was in the first place. The Mayo Clinic suggested taking a bit of time out of your day to bask in the good feelings and even indulge in some new gear. The key is to choose something that isn’t related to food. The Washington Post reported that many people tend to overindulge after a workout because they feel like they deserve a treat.
Setting the right goals is just as important as picking an appropriate reward. Health explained it’s much more useful to focus on things that are specific and measurable, instead of going for something broad, like better fitness. The piece went on to say that it should be challenging but still attainable, so you don’t become too frustrated.
3. Indulge in favorite TV shows
Sitting down to watch a favorite TV show might start out innocently enough, but it can easily turn into a binge session before you know it. Instead of cuddling up on the couch to watch the latest episodes, turn them into exercise-only treats. Outside reported that watching TV while you hit the treadmill or elliptical can lower your perceived effort, making your workout seem like less of a chore. But stick to something light. Anything that requires too much brain power is going to reduce your effort and the effectiveness of your workout. Women’s Health has some tips on how to get the most out of your workout while still enjoying your favorite shows.
4. Treat it as recess
If the thought of working out sounds like the worst form of torture, consider replacing the regular treadmill routine with something a little more unconventional. Many of the fun activities kids go crazy for on the playground are a great way to get your heart racing. Bonus: they’re just as fun for adults.
Jumping rope is one of the most effective forms of exercise out there, and Real Simple has a great workout that’ll only take you 15 minutes. Some gyms have found huge success in using childhood favorites to make working out the best part of the day for their clients. DNAinfo reported that a gym in New York regularly incorporates activities like hopscotch and relay races into their workouts.
If group activities are more your thing, consider signing up for a league or club. There are organizations for everything from ultimate frisbee to dodgeball. In addition to having a ton of fun, you’ll boost your fitness. Livestrong explained playing dodgeball is equivalent to high intensity interval training without feeling like it. When working out is this much fun, you’ll be bummed when it’s over.
5. Create an awesome playlist
Good news for music lovers: Listening to tunes while you work out can lead to higher performance. Science Daily reported on a study that found participants who listened to their favorite music while exercising benefited from a decrease in perceived effort and felt more focused. So even if you don’t love dance songs, you can still reap the rewards.
And the perks don’t stop there. The Huffington Post reported that listening to faster-paced music can lead to increased effort — plus, it puts you in a better mood. Shape has tons of suggestions for great playlists that will take the work out of your workout.