You already know there are many great reasons to exercise—from improving energy, mood, sleep, and health to reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. And detailed exercise instructions and workout plans are just a click away. But if knowing how and why to exercise was enough, we’d all be in shape. Making exercise a habit takes more and you need the right mindset and a smart approach. Whatever your age or fitness level, here are a few steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and more fun and instinctive.
1. Don’t use exercise to punish yourself
Women who enjoy exercise don’t see their workouts as punishment—not for eating too many cookies last night or for having put on a few extra pounds. Instead, they hit the gym excited for the rewards they will immediately feel. Shifting your focus from ‘having’ to work out because you want to change something about your body to ‘getting’ to work out because you’re excited about what you’re going to achieve, changes everything. Hating your body almost never works, and even if it does, it’s miserable.
When you’re getting ready to workout, try to become aware of the thoughts you’re having and their effect on your mood. Are you telling yourself to workout because you feel bad about your body? Or because you want to do something nice for your body? Do you feel guilty when you have the occasional indulgence or do you think “everything in moderation?” View your workouts as ways to take care of and reward your body—not as punishments for eating one too many cookies.
2. Get a workout buddy
This isn’t for everyone, and some people prefer to workout alone, but if you can find someone that works at the same speed as you, and has similar goals, then it can really help make it more fun. You don’t have to do the same thing together all the time. Find someone that wants to go to a workout class and try something new. Getting a workout buddy doesn’t mean going to the gym and chatting the whole time, it just means having someone to get through it with.
3. Focus on the mental benefits
Too often we focus on the physical changes we are wanting from exercise, but those changes are also regulated by so many other things so when they don’t change the way we want to, it is easy for us to blame the workouts and then stop enjoying them. Focus on the mental benefits of working out, like feeling less stressed and your attitude in general.
4. Choose your workout clothes well
Some people might see this one as a bit vain, but if you feel good about yourself, then you are generally happier in other things that you do. Having comfortable workout clothes is also really important – having your sports bra rubbing the whole time is not enjoyable.
5. Become a part of a community
No one likes to feel alone. If you’re looking to make your workouts a little more social, consider changing your typical lunch dates with friends into gym dates and checking out adult sports leagues in your area. Just start paying mind to the other people at your gym. You’d be surprised by how your gym can start to feel a lot more like home if you just start saying “hello.” Or join us at Kanthaka, our trainers are passionate about fitness and will help you in your journey to transform your mind and body!
6. Build In Rest Days Every Week
If you take the no-pain, no-gain approach to exercise, you’ll burn out quickly and will eventually come to loathe your workouts. You need to build in rest days every week not only for your body to recover, but also your mind. Once you’re on a roll with your workouts it can be easy to get addicted to them and want to push yourself further each day. But taking rest days (even when you don’t want to) can help your body and mind come to crave that next workout even more—keeping your attitude towards exercise as positive.