9 Tips For Staying Motivated to Exercise

Less stress can lead to more productivity

Woman exercising on treadmill in gym
Getty ImagesRegular exercise boosts energy and focus.

Everyone knows that exercise is a KEY element to good health. The trick is keeping yourself motivated to exercise, if you're a person who naturally relapses into the couch-potato pose.

It took me years of prodding, but I've finally managed to turn myself into a dedicated exerciser. I never push myself very hard (at all), but I do manage to stick with a routine.

Personally, I find it more motivating to think about short-term gratification like "I'll sleep better" than long-term considerations like "I'll live longer" or "If I have surgery, I'll recover quicker."

Here are some things to keep in mind, if you're trying to keep yourself motivated to exercise:

1. Exercise boosts energy. It took me a long time to notice that I'd drag myself to the gym, work out for 40 minutes, and leave feeling far more energetic than when I went in.

2. Exercise provides an outlet for feelings of pent-up hostility, irritation, and anger. I always find that I'm far calmer and more forbearing on days when I've exercised. I have a jittery, high-strung nature, and exercising takes the edge off.

3. Repetitive, rhythmic motion of exercises like walking and running brings a serene mood and clarifies thinking. I've had all my best writing ideas when walking or running, and sometimes assign myself a particular problem to think over during a walk.

4. Sticking to an exercise regime raises your self-esteem for the very fact that you're sticking to an exercise regime.

5. Exercise offers a chance to be alone and uninterrupted -- a relief if, like me, you're often surrounded by distractions. Or, if you prefer, exercise also offers a chance to get together with other people -- a relief if, like me, you spend a lot of time working alone. I have both kinds of exercise during my week.

6. Regular exercise helps to keep your body chemicals in balance. When you experience stress, your body prepares for "fight or flight" with a huge number of biochemical reactions. A stressful event these days, however, is more likely to require a phone call than a sprint uphill. The potentially damaging byproducts of the stress response, such as cortisol, nevertheless continue to pump through the body, and exercise helps offset that effect.

7. Exercise helps you fall asleep more easily and sleep more deeply. The Big Man really notices this in himself.

8. Pure vanity can be a good motivator. Remember that people who exercise move more easily and energetically, and appear more youthful.

9. When I don't feel like exercising, I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to move easily and without pain -- no wheelchair, no crutches, no brace, no trick knee or bad back.

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Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

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Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project--accounts of her experiences test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, www.happiness-project.com, she reports on her daily adventures in pursuit of happiness. Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject. Though her conclusions are sometimes counter-intuitive—for example, she finds that true simplicity is far from simple to attain—her insights resonate with readers of all backgrounds. Response to Rubin’s practical approach to happiness has been overwhelming. Psychiatrists suggest these books to their patients, professors assign them to their students, book groups read them, families pass them around, and groups have sprung up across the world where people do Happiness Projects together. Exhausted parents and college students, senior citizens and professionals, clergy and social workers, and people facing divorce, illness, and drift have written to tell Gretchen Rubin how she’s influenced them. A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, Rubin started her career in law, and was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She has written several books, including three novels safely locked in a desk drawer. But of everything she’s ever written, she says that her one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people. Rubin is an enthusiastic proponent of using technology to engage with readers about ideas, and she has a wide, active following on social media. “The Happiness Project” was even an answer on the game-show Jeopardy! She loves to connect with readers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube—and on her popular daily blog, of course. Gretchen Rubin has a free monthly newsletter which features highlights from the blog and Facebook Page (sign up here) and the free daily “Moment of Happiness” email with a happiness quote every morning (sign up here). If you’re interested in launching a happiness project group, for people doing happiness projects together, you can get the “starter kit” here.

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RouteUS66Busload

I would need that if I get up early in the mornings.

November 03 2013 at 1:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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