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Published on: 05-Jul-2023

We all do it. We set ambitious health and exercise goals and then fail to follow through because life gets in the way. Developing a fitness habit takes a great deal of effort, not to mention daily motivation. Staying fit becomes increasingly important as we age, so you owe it to yourself and your family to work on maintaining and improving your health. If you struggle to stay motivated to exercise, here are a few helpful ideas.  

Make It Fun

Find an activity that you find fun. Pickleball, tennis, walking with neighbors, or bicycling can be a lot more enjoyable than riding a stationary bike in the basement or walking on an elliptical daily. When you’re having fun, exercise becomes mindless and less of a chore.

Schedule your Workouts

If exercise is not on your daily to-do list, it should be. When workout time is planned, it becomes easier to follow through. Many people find working out first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day, and you immediately get a sense of accomplishment when you cross it off your list.

Set Goals

It’s easier to get motivated when you set a goal. Do you want to lose weight? Get toned? Run a marathon? Define your goals and then reward yourself when you hit short- and long-term goals along the way.

Track Your Progress

Maintaining a journal or fitness app to track your activity and progress can be very motivating. Tracking your activity, weight, and measurements allows you to visualize your progress and set goals.

Find a Workout Partner

Staying motivated is hard, so a workout buddy makes exercising more fun. And, when you are unmotivated, your partner can motivate and encourage you, and vice versa.  

Be Kind to Yourself

Every day will not go according to plan, and even though you want to work out each day, it’s not always going to happen. Don’t be hard on yourself or beat yourself up with negative self-talk when you fall short of your goals. Remain positive and continue your fitness journey.

Follow the 3 x 10 Rule

Don’t be afraid to change your goals if they are too ambitious. If you can’t work out every day, try using the 3×10 rule. Dedicate three days a week, and ten minutes each day to physical activity. If you cannot motivate yourself to work out every day, start with three days and then work your way up to more. Do what you can do, and don’t pressure yourself to go too far or too fast.

Perhaps the greatest motivator of all is understanding that the steps you take now to improve your health will help dramatically as you age. Working out daily will not only improve your physical health, but your mental health as well.

Authored by Zach Meeker, Research Assistant for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center