You probably know exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. And yet, fewer than a quarter of all Americans get the recommended amount of physical activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A big reason is that many people simply don’t think they like to exercise. If you’re one of those people, try these five tips to get more exercise in your life. You may even start to like it!
1. Leave out the exercise you don’t enjoy
There’s no rule that says you should be miserable when you exercise. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to exercise. What would be fun for you? Think back to ways you moved your body as a kid—did you like riding your bike? Sledding? Playing team sports? Make a list of activities that you’d like to try. Try each one until you find new ways to exercise that you enjoy.
2. Set SMART goals
If you’re new to exercise, you might get discouraged comparing your activity to official recommendations (150 minutes of moderate activity a week). Instead, start with goals that are tailored to you, and ramp up over time. One approach is to set SMART goals. That stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound. “I will try one new exercise class this week” is an example of a SMART goal. When you set SMART goals for exercise, you might find you enjoy it more.
3. Reward yourself
As you find ways to move your body that you enjoy, and as you get stronger and fitter, exercising will feel like its own reward. But as you’re getting more motivated to work out, you can reward yourself for your progress. When you’ve reached certain SMART goals, find ways to celebrate your achievements. Take a bubble bath, get a massage, buy new workout clothes. Keep a list of rewards that are fun for you and use them to keep going.
4. Make it social
Working out with other people can make exercise more fun. Plus, when you have plans with someone else to exercise, it adds accountability. There are lots of ways to make exercise more social. Try a new exercise class with a friend. Take a walk with a coworker over lunch. If you like team sports, see if there are any pickup soccer games or kickball leagues in your area. Even if you prefer to work out at home, you can make it social by planning to do the same workout video at the same time as a friend.
5. Track progress
When you see yourself getting fitter, it can motivate you to keep going. There are lots of ways to track your progress. You can use a workout app or good old-fashioned pen and paper. Looking back on how your workouts have gotten longer, your running speed has quickened or the amount of weight you can lift has increased can be really motivating—and fun too!
As you try these tips, see how your mindset about exercise can change. As you find new ways to move and see the benefits, you may just start loving exercise.