Researchers have been trying to figure out what compels us to do something repeatedly we don’t always want to do – like exercise. Here are some scientifically-proven strategies to help your workout motivation:
- Give Yourself a Real Reward – Give yourself tangible, immediate benefits to working out, such as treating yourself to an episode of your favorite TV show or a healthy smoothie after you exercise. These kinds of rewards are powerful because your brain starts to link the reward to the behavior making it seem worthwhile. Over time, the motivation becomes the workout itself, as the brain begins to associate sweat and pain with the surge of endorphins — those feel-good chemicals released in the brain that are responsible for that exhilarating rush you get after a great exercise session. Once you’ve trained your brain to recognize that the workout itself is the reward, you won’t even need the treat.
- Sign a Commitment Contract — Research shows we’re more likely to follow through with pledges when we make them in front of friends. You can up the ante even more by signing a contract agreeing to pay a pal $20 every time you skip your planned workout. Studies of people who created contracts found that those who signed longer contracts ended up exercising more than those who agreed to shorter time spans. Once we get past the initial pain and discomfort, it’s much easier to recognize the benefits of sticking to the routine.
- Rethink Positive Thinking — Believers in the power of positive thinking also believe in the power of positive imaging, where you actual visualize the behavior and the beneficial outcomes of it as well. For example, when deciding whether to get out of bed to go running in the morning, it helps to imagine how the sun will feel on your face as you run. Or visualize your happiness as you see the results of your fitness routine. You can also visualize the obstacles to getting in the workouts you desire. Once you have those images, it’s easier to find solutions to work around the things blocking your wellness path.
- Find Your Fitness Tribe — What will ultimately inspire you to get up and start moving is a strong, supportive community. The laughs, high fives, and words of encouragement from the bonds people make are things that can’t be replicated. Find a workout that makes you feel good and surround yourself with people that help build your confidence as much as your strength.
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