How many exercise programs have you ever started? And how many of those programs actually ended up making you feel fitter and living a healthier lifestyle?
Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Not even close. While it seems like everywhere you look people are jogging, cycling and working out, the vast majority of us do not get even the 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity recommended in the Canadian Physical Activity Guide.
More than just poorer health, that lack of activity can lead to muscle and joint strains and sprains, and even broken bones. But not in the way you think it might. You probably won’t get injured (except your overall health) from sitting around too much. However, just like how your back is stiff when you get up after sitting for some time, when you start all those exercise programs you abandon, you are at increased risk of injury when you first start the program.
If it’s better for your health and carries less risk of injury to remain on a regular program of exercise, then why are more of us not doing so?
Motivation. Everyone would love to enjoy the benefits of more exercise, including improved health, feeling better and looking better too. But much of how we go about those exercise programs reduces our motivation to stick with them.
Here are just a few things – as counter intuitive as they may seem – that you can do to keep motivated on the way to better physical health. Please do not start any exercise program without consulting your doctor or physiotherapist.
1. Don’t Go to the Gym
All the effort it takes to get to the gym, change into your too-tight gym outfit, do your workout, change again, shower and get home again – all while comparing yourself most unfavorably to the buff bodies around you – can sap anyone’s motivation. Instead, talk to a trainer or therapist and find out more about a program that you can try at home, or with friends in a more relaxed atmosphere.
2. Don’t Be too Motivated
Sometimes you get so pumped to start your new, healthy lifestyle, that you set-off at a pace that is impossible to maintain for any length of time. And when you bog down, you get discouraged. Take it easy at first. Maybe only exercise for 15 minute intervals. But commit to doing so over a period of time long enough to get you in the habit.
3. Don’t Expect Results
Imagine if you went or an hour walk five days a week for three weeks. Fantastic. Now let’s hop on the scale and see how much weight you lost. Zounds!! The needle hasn’t moved. Why should you continue to exercise?Hinging your success on a number on the scale, or the seeing some more ‘definition’ in your muscles, will only clobber your motivation when it doesn’t happen. All exercise helps move you towards a healthier state. Even if you don’t see tangible results, you are doing yourself a world of good.
It’s always difficult to take set out on an exercise program alone. Look for a friend who wants to join you and get the assistance of a professional trainer or physiotherapist to help you sick with it.