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How many times have you made this statement and followed it up with other negative comments such as “I hate the gym”, “it’s too time consuming”, “I hate sweating”, “I hate the pain”, “everyone else in the gym is so fit”.

When we actually weigh up the pros and cons to exercising the benefits win out. But first you have to look at your motivation. We are all spurred on by different things from health, appearance, energy, and even social acceptance but the key is to realize that motivation must ultimately come from within. It can be triggered externally but the tools to achieve your goals are internal, the aim is to bring them to the surface, a challenge in itself.

A big problem in getting motivated lies in thinking that the only way to get exercise is to attend a gym. We picture ourselves staring at equipment we’ve no idea how to use and surrounded by fit, healthy people with superb bodies. We forget the hundreds of other everyday activities that can burn calories and build muscle.

Consider the following benefits of becoming more active:

  1. You will get a significant energy boost.
  2. Your mood will be lifted and you will feel happier. Physical activity releases endorphins which naturally make us feel better.
  3. You’ll burn calories which will change your body composition ie. burn fat and build muscle.
  4. You’ll make your heart more efficient because pumping blood more easily means more oxygen gets to our muscles and organs and they’ll work more effectively.
  5. Your balance, posture and everyday motor skills will improve enabling you to do things that seemed impossible before.

Even when you recognize the health and wellbeing exercise brings sometimes it’s hard to get started. It’s best to keep it simple at the beginning. Consider the following options that don’t involve getting active in the gym:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Crunches in front of the TV
  • Running up and down the stairs
  • Dancing
  • Body weight squats
  • Jumping jacks
  • Biking
  • Push ups
  • Cleaning the house

With so many options out there, it shouldn’t be hard to find a few things to get you moving and that you can fit into your daily life. You could even break activity up during the day so you don’t even notice you’re doing it. Take the stairs instead of the lift in work, park a little further away from the supermarket, walk faster between places when you’re running errands.

A helpful tip is to find a reason other than “weight loss” to exercise. Do you want to tone up your muscles, do you want more energy, or maybe you want to improve your cardiovascular health? Whatever your exercise motivation is, take it one step and a time and break it down for success. An example is:

  1. I will consciously think about ways to add small bursts of activity into my routine this week.
  2. Next week, I will go for two 20 minutes walks on my breaks at work on top of that.
  3. In 3 weeks, I will increase that to three 20 minute walks per day.
  4. In week 4, I will walk faster and maybe even for a bit longer.

If you can find an exercise buddy it will be even easier. If not, listen to some upbeat music or a motivation track as you walk.

If you take this advice eventually physical activity will become an important part of your daily routine that you may not be able to live without, dare I say, you’ll probably actually start looking forward to it.