In Part 1 of this article I looked at motivation, and how it can vary from person to person. Given that we have to think about, and generate, the motivation to exercise within ourselves, I have listed below some of the elements which may be of assistance to you in both getting started, as well as maintaining, your exercise programme over the long term:
- Have at least One goal – The goal can be large or small but make it as specific as possible and also achievable so that you have a constant reason for exercising. For example, you may want to lose a certain amount of weight for a special occasion, or run a Half Marathon. If you are feeling more ambitious, you can have more than 1 goal, or perhaps an idea of a future goal when the first one has been achieved.
Having something to aim for is a great motivator, and the goal/s can be broken down into ‘bite sized’ chunks so that your progress can be tracked, and rewards can be more frequent (see later).
- Be Prepared – As soon as you have decided to exercise, you need to make it as easy as possible to ensure that you continue. And that means always having what you need ready for use.
For example, investing in a good pair of trainers which are suitable for your chosen activity is money very well spent. As are the comfort and sweat wicking properties of your choice of exercise clothing. And, of course, for us ladies, make sure that your sports bra is fit for purpose – ideally you should be measured by a professional before you invest in one.
You will also need to consider meals, snacks and drinks for the day/s you schedule to exercise. Fuelling prior to exercise, and refuelling after is crucial and something which should be planned in advance.
- Be Disciplined – Our lives are governed by routine and habit, so ensuring that your time to exercise also becomes a habit and a routine will mean that it quickly becomes factored in as a normal part of your day, which makes it easier to stick to. Commitments such as work or child care may govern the time of day you can exercise, but when you find a part of the day that is good for you then stick to it so that you know when that time comes you need to get ready and go.
- Be Flexible – It’s inevitable that there will be times when you have no option but to interrupt your regular exercise routine; For example if you have to work late or have a family commitment. The key is to adapt and have a Plan B. Always try to keep the momentum going by perhaps exercising for a shorter time. Alternatively, you may be able to fit it in at another time of the day, or re-schedule altogether for another more convenient day.
- Have Commitment – It sounds trite, but to accomplish anything worthwhile takes effort and commitment, and the same applies to your commitment to being as healthy and fit as you can be. And it’s not a commitment you make once, it’s something which needs to be worked on and reinforced every day. It also helps to keep your goal in mind, and regularly review how far you have progressed towards achieving it.
- The Rewards – These are the enjoyable ‘payback’ which make all of the hard work worthwhile, and they can be as great or small as you want them to be. The small may be something as simple and pleasurable as a latte, the larger reward may be a Spa Day or a weekend away.
The motivation for any of us to exercise can change every day, and may be based on a goal or even the potential reward. But the most important thing is to work on, and review, your motivation every day, and soon exercise will become second nature and a regular habit of the healthiest kind.