Knowing about the benefits of physical activity is one thing, but exercising regularly is another. For days when you’re having a hard time getting off the couch, here are a few tips you can use!
1. Focus on the immediate benefits: Exercise helps us stay in shape and prevents all kinds of health problems down the line. But when putting on your running shoes feels like a chore, reminding yourself of the short-term benefits can be more effective than focusing on distant objectives. For example, remind yourself how relaxed you feel after a yoga session, or how you sleep better whenever you take a walk at the end of the day!
2. Set smaller goals: When it comes to physical activity, getting started is often the hardest part. To get over this hump, try setting smaller goals. What used to seem like a mountain will look more like a molehill. Who knows? Once you get started, you may decide to do three sets of free weights instead of just one. Always remember, 10 minutes of movement is better than none!
3. Create rituals: Set clear goals and come up with a plan on how to achieve them. To make the process all the more concrete and motivating, try printing your plan and sticking it on your refrigerator. As soon as you complete one of your scheduled activities, put a sticker over it or cross it off using a red pen. This strategy can be very satisfying, you’ll see!
4. Don’t overthink things: If you look for reasons to give up, you’ll always find them. Sometimes it’s best to stick to the plan and avoid overthinking. Did you say you would go snowshoeing on Saturday morning? Make it happen! Grab your winter gear and get out there. Is Monday supposed to be your workout day? Backing out is not an option! If you usually work out first thing in the morning, getting your clothes and equipment ready the night before will make things easier, and you’ll be less tempted to crawl back into your warm bed!
5. Make it fun: Not surprisingly, doing an activity you hate requires a lot more energy than doing something you like. You could go hiking with crampons or snowshoes, go downhill or cross-country skiing, walk around the city, go ice skating, dance around your home or take an online yoga class… There’s something for everyone!
6. Track your progress: Sports watches, step counters, tracking applications… There are many tools that will allow you to measure and track the amount of exercise you do. Some people prefer to go about things more intuitively, but if you’re more left-brained, statistics and graphs can be a great source of motivation! You can even record the number of steps you’ve walked or the kilometres you’ve covered on your fat bike using the action plan you’ve placed on your fridge! (See point 3.)
7. Kill two birds with one stone: If you’re worried you might get bored during your workout, try making it more social or educational. Invite your spouse or children to join you or go for a long walk while you talk to your loved ones on the phone. You can also grab your headphones and listen to a few episodes of a podcast on ancient Roman philosophy or any other topic you might be interested in. It’s a great way to tone your legs and sharpen your mind at the same time!
8. Be mindful while you move: When you’re being active, the main principles of mindfulness are very relevant. Before you start your physical activity, take a moment to scan your body, starting at your head and slowly moving all the way down to your toes. Do you feel any tension or discomfort? Take a few deep breaths. Then, as you start exercising, try to visualize what’s happening in your body. Your heart rate increases, your lungs fill up and then expel air, blood flows through your veins and sends oxygen to your muscles… After your workout, do another body scan and pay attention to what feels different. Make an effort to remember how good you feel. It will provide you with more motivation to get moving again next time!
9. Broaden your horizons: Running 10 km and pumping iron aren’t the only ways to be active. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, 10 minutes of movement is better than none! There are so many everyday activities you can do to get your heart pumping and your muscles moving. Walking to the grocery store, shovelling snow, washing the floors, cleaning the garage… It all counts!
10. Reward yourself: Finding the motivation to move can be difficult sometimes, but the satisfaction you’ll feel afterwards tends to be well worth it. When you meet a goal, you deserve to feel proud! Reward yourself by taking a nice bubble bath or watching an episode of your favourite TV show. After all, recovery is important too!