How to Exercise Regularly and Stay Motivated
Weight loss and improved fitness are some of the most common resolutions year around. Yet, according to a study conducted on 4,000 people, 43% gave up their fitness-related goal within one month, and after three months, only 10% thought that they could stick with their fitness-based resolutions. These statistics clearly illustrate that starting an exercise program is much easier than maintaining one.
What are the reasons behind this?
Too high expectations too early
While it’s fine to have lofty fitness goals, they also need to be realistic. Plus, they must be accompanied by process goals along the way. For example, if your goal is to lose 30kg, you should also have intermediary (process) goals such as 1kg, 2kg, 5kg, as well as other non-scale based goals (for instance, feel better, clothes fit looser, more energy). When a lofty goal is the singular goal that an individual is focusing on, it is easy to become demoralized and frustrated due to the duration of time and effort required to reach the goal. This often leads people to quit.
Not willing to make sacrifices
Getting out of bed at 5am to get your workout. Skipping drinks after work on a weekday with your colleagues to hit the gym. Getting to bed early, knowing that you have a kickboxing workout the next morning.
These are just a few examples of how making some form of sacrifice is likely necessary to achieve one’s fitness goals. As a result, those not willing to make them will likely fail. Starting and maintaining an exercise routine is a lifestyle modification, which involves change that is often synonymous with making some form of sacrifice.
Lack of a support system
This is a biggie! A lot of individuals, when undertaking an exercise program, go at it alone. While some people can make it work, most need some form of support system. Whether it be a workout buddy, a personal trainer, an encouraging friend/ family member or an online support group for those new to exercising, having support will make staying on top of your workouts easier than if you work in isolation.
This is an all-encompassing area that includes goal setting (both outcome and process goals), implementing a support system and having a progressive and realistic exercise program. By having a plan, you’re able to map out your proposed fitness journey so as to maximize your results and enjoyment, while planning out strategies for when things get derailed.
Lack of progress
This often goes hand-in-hand with having a singular and overly aggressive fitness goal. When people don’t feel like they are making any progress, the chance that they will quit is quite high. This is why having realistic goals is so important. It is also important to have resources to help educate you as to why you might not be realizing your desired results and how to get you back on track.
To be clear, exercise takes work. Whether it be three or five days per week, it takes effort to maintain an exercise program over a long period of time. For some individuals, this effort is not sustainable. While it’s likely that those that quit due to the effort involved do not implement strategies, such as having a support system, there are some for whom the effort of working out multiple days seems too much.
This is largely a programming error. While not everyone loves to exercise, the chance that an individual would hate all forms of exercise equally is slim to non-existent. There are many strategies to reduce boredom. Check out four such strategies.
- Follow an exercise program that integrates varying exercise types
- Exercising with a friend
- Take group fitness classes (in-person or virtually)
- Watch TV when exercising, so long as you can do it safely
As you can see, there are many possible factors related to quitting a workout program, as well as an equal number of ways to combat quitting.
How to stay consistent with your workouts
All too often, people starting a workout program go into it without a plan. This is a critical mistake. A properly constructed and implemented plan is what allows individuals to stay consistent with their workouts and thus gives them the best possible chance for success.
Here are several strategies to stay consistent with your workouts.
Make it a part of your day
There are a million things that can get in the way of a workout, including but not limited to family and work-related matters. Perhaps the best strategy that you can implement to minimize these outside influences is to exercise in the morning. This is also beneficial during the summer as it is much cooler at this time.
As the day progresses, the greater the chance that things will arise that may conflict with your planned workout. If exercising in the morning is not an option, then scheduling workouts during lunchtime or right after work is also a good strategy.
With respect to exercising after work, it should be done directly after. If you first come home and sit on the couch, the likelihood that you’ll get off it to work out is highly unlikely.
Maintain a log book to monitor progress
Maintaining a logbook is one of the easiest ways to keep track of your progress and training milestones. The date and time of workout, types of exercises, duration, rest and recovery, sleep quality, and nutrition are some of the data you can include in your logbook. This will help you keep a record of essential information that can be used to track your workouts and make improvements in your upcoming workout routines. Moreover, a training logbook can also serve as a tool to keep you accountable and as a source of motivation.
Whether it be meeting a friend in the park for a run, scheduling a session with a personal trainer, or booking a class at the gym with a no-refund policy, holding yourself accountable to get your workouts done is very important for your success.
Make it enjoyable
There are endless ways to work out. Therefore, you shouldn’t keep things in your workout program that you hate. Don’t like cycling? Try running. Hate doing ab crunches? Do front shoulder raises that stress your core and also strengthen your shoulders at the same time!
By building your workouts with exercises that you enjoy, you’ll likely look forward to most workouts, which will then lead to consistency.
Also read: How Does Exercise Benefit Your Body?
How to challenge yourself to keep exercising
No matter how good or bad an exercise program is, so long as you’re consistent with your exercise sessions, you will hit a plateau with one or more of them. This is both normal and expected. When this occurs, you have several choices…
- Increase the duration
- Increase the intensity
- Select a new and more challenging exercise
From a motivation standpoint, you can also select a new goal. Perhaps your goal was to lose 10 kilograms and now that you did that and feel great, you decide to sign up for a 10K race. This represents a new goal and thus, a new way to challenge yourself.
How to balance your routine so you do not burn out
If you’re doing the same exercise routine or program day in and day out, there is a high probability that you will get sick of doing it and mentally burn out. One of the best ways to reduce the chance of mental burnout is to have fun. So, ensuring that the workout program is something that you enjoy and look forward to is very important.
Other strategies to reduce the chance of mental burnout include:
- Take rest days
- Vary your exercise routine
- Set realistic goals
- If you’re in a mental workout rut, take a few days off
- Vary your workout environment (eg, gym, outdoors)
- Try new exercises and modalities (eg, indoor rock climbing)
1. Parren A. Research Shows 43% Of People Expect To Give Up Their New Year’s Resolutions By February. Sundried. 2021; published online Feb 12. https://www.sundried.com/blogs/training/research-shows-43-of-people-expect-to-give-up-their-new-year-s-resolutions-by-february#:~:text=Sundried%20conducted%20a%20survey%20with,think%20their%20resolution%20will%20last. (accessed Apr 28, 2021).