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The Psychology of Motivation

Now that the year is well and truly under way it’s time to get serious about your health and fitness goals for 2019. I’m sure many of you reading this have started a fitness program but may have stopped due to boredom, lack of enjoyment or results coming too slowly. Here are seven tips to help you stay motivated!

1. Set goals

Start with simple goals and then progress to longer term goals. Remember to make your goals realistic and achievable. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up if your goals are too ambitious.

For example, if you haven’t been resistant training consistently in a while, a short-term goal might be to get to the gym three days a week. An intermediate goal might be to train four days a week. A long-term goal might be to train 4 times a week plus a yoga session.

2. Make it fun

Find activities and training varieties that you enjoy, then vary the routine to keep it interesting. If you’re not enjoying your workouts, try something different. Try sime group fitness classes, pick up an old sport or try something new. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be boring, and you’re more likely to stick with a fitness program if you’re having fun.

3. Make physical activity part of your daily routine

If it’s hard to find time for exercise, don’t fall back on excuses. Schedule workouts as you would any other important activity.

You can also slip in physical activity throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk up and down sidelines while watching the kids play sports. Take a walk during a break at work. Pedal a stationary bike or do strength training exercises while you watch TV at night.

Research has found that sitting for long periods of time may negatively affect your health, even if you otherwise get the recommended amount of weekly activity. If you sit for several hours a day at work, aim to take regular breaks during the day to move, such as walking to the water fountain to get a drink of water or standing during phone conversations.

4. Put it on paper

Are you hoping to lose weight? Boost your energy? Sleep better? Manage a chronic condition? Write down your goals. Seeing the benefits of regular exercise and writing your goals down on paper may help you stay motivated.

You may also find that it helps to keep an exercise diary. Record what you did during each exercise session, how long you exercised and how you felt afterward. Recording your efforts and tracking your progress can help you work toward your goals and remind you that you’re making progress.

5. Join forces with friends, neighbours or others

You’re not in this alone. Invite friends or co-workers to join you when you exercise. Work out with your partner or other loved ones. Play soccer with your kids. Organize a group of neighbours to take fitness classes at a local health club.

6. Reward yourself

After each exercise session, take a few minutes to savour the good feelings that exercise gives you. This type of internal reward can help you make a long-term commitment to regular exercise.

External rewards can help too. When you reach a longer-range goal, treat yourself to a new pair of walking shoes or new tunes to enjoy while you exercise.

7. Be flexible

If you’re too busy to work out or simply don’t feel up to it, take a day or two off. Be gentle with yourself if you need a break. The important thing is to get back on track as soon as you can. Now that you’ve regained your enthusiasm, get moving! Set your goals, make it fun and pat yourself on the back from time to time. Remember, physical activity is for life. Review these tips whenever you feel your motivation slipping.