“Hacks” are basically innovative ways to motivate or trick yourself into exercising — a fun way of reframing the classic concept of “exercise motivation.” We all need motivation to exercise. I love moving and I still often need a gentle push in the right direction. If you have trouble motivating yourself to move, try one of the seven hacks listed below.
1. Couple exercise with something you enjoy.
Watch TV or listen to a podcast, an audio book or music as you work out. Better yet, have a program you are only allowed to listen to or watch when exercising. Enjoy the finer things in life? Join a fancy gym so you feel special.
2. Have a mantra or pep talk ready to go.
Self-talk is extremely powerful. Repeat a simple mantra. Something like “The worse your mood, the more important the workout” and “Perfection is the opposite of done. Your workout does not have to be perfect. Just do something.”
3. Stop associating working out with the gym.
Your workout doesn’t have to take place in a gym to be worthwhile. Thinking it does simply gives you another excuse to be inactive. Make your workouts convenient so you are more likely to do them consistently. Walk regularly, join a local sports team or set up a home gym. Just commit to something realistic — anything — and do it.
4. Reward yourself.
Set goals and non–food-related rewards: a hot bubble bath, a new workout outfit or a movie with friends. Don’t let yourself have the reward if you don’t reach your goal.
5. Generate friendly competition.
Figure out what drives you. If you care about saving money, pay yourself every time you train. When you reach a pre-established amount, splurge on something you normally wouldn’t buy. If competing with others is more motivating for you, sign up for ClassPass or a virtual activity tracker; compete with friends on how many classes you attend or how many steps you take.
6. Create visual reminders of your success.
Have a calendar on the fridge and place a sticker on it every time you exercise, or create a spreadsheet or graph and record your workouts. Basically, find solutions not excuses. Working out in the morning? Sleep in your exercise clothes. Have an unpredictable schedule? Always have a gym bag packed and ready to go.
7. Get a fitness buddy.
Friends make everything more fun. Plus, you are less likely to skip a workout if you are meeting someone. Meet your buddy and do fitness classes, go for a walk, do fun partner strength exercises at the gym or simply meet and do cardio on side-by- side machines.
Figure out what drives you, then do that. Build on the foundation of your inner nature; harness your personality, learn from every experience and always look for opportunities to move.