Find your drive: An exercise motivational

getting-huge.jpg by ericmcgregor
Somewhen before hitting my 28th birthday, I looked in the mirror and noticed a bit of a paunch.

"What." I thought to myself.

I was rather skinny back then, and skinny plus belly did not go well together.  It took a few days to sink in, but I realized that something needed to be done.

Though vaguely aware that "everyone" says exercising is good for you, I never really gave it much thought, always seeing exercising as something only overweight people needed to do. But suddenly it's something I needed to consider. I went to the closest gym and got me a membership.

Thus started my workout life.

Through the years I've had stretches where I gave up on working out, for whatever reason. There's been times where I've had to drag myself biting and scratching to the gym. There's been instances where I looked for any excuse to skip my workouts. But in the end, I kept on going, because the benefits outweigh the costs, although I sometimes need reminders.

Here's my list of motivators, which I've used with myself and others:

Long term motivation
To convince your logical left brain

1. Looking good

Appeal to your vanity. How buff you look is one part of your appearance completely under your control. Knowing you look good does wonders for your self esteem. Knowing that this result is something you earned makes the reward all the sweeter.

2. Mood improvements

If you've ever had to deal with long stretches of the blahs, regular exercise helps alleviate that. There's evidence that exercise reduces anxiety and depression. [*] [*] [*]

3. Better sleep

With regular workouts, sleep comes deeper and more easily. Part of it is obviously from the fatigue of the workout, but there's a significant residual effect which makes sleep better even days after the workout. [*] [*]

4. More energy

Regular exercise makes you feel more energetic, and I personally am more active and outdoorsy when I exercise.  If you enjoy the outdoors or just exploring the city, having the energy and drive to walk about will definitely improve your quality of life.

5. Real strength and endurance

The muscles you pack on isn't just for looks, they're actually useful. You'll get to shoo off offers of help when the time comes to move those heavy boxes. You'll also get to stop wheezing like an asthmatic and having your friends asking if "grandpa needs a hand" after climbing a few flights of stairs.

6. Improved health

A fit body has a better immune system. [*] [*] After I started exercising regularly, I've noticed that I catch colds less frequently, and when I do I recover more quickly than before. For a long term view, exercise also reduces the risk and complications of cancer [*] [*] [*] [*], heart disease [*], and diabetes [*].

7. Retain youthfulness

Every year after age 25, your body loses ~1% of muscle per year. Also, as you get older, fat deposits start building up around your organs, which causes all sorts of problems. Both of these need to be combated retain your youthful state. [*] [*] Surprisingly, exercise actually keeps you young on a cellular level as well. Research found that people who exercise has cells which age slower. [*]

8. Increase mental acuity

Exercise has been shown to improve memory, increase cognition, and actually stimulate new brain cell growth. [*] [*] Time during a workout is also great for clearing your mind of the distractions of the day, allowing you to see things in a different light afterwards. So go for a jog right before working on that big project or studying for that big exam.

9. Sports performance

Do you have a favorite sport or outdoor activity you like to do? Increasing your endurance will allow you to play the sport longer and harder, and allow you to concentrate on improving your technique since the strength and endurance portions are already taken care of.  Targeting specific movements of your sport will allow you to improve your performance even when you are not actively playing, which is helpful for activities which you may not be able to do often, such as skiing or snowboarding.

10. Injury prevention

Strong core muscles prevent back injuries by stabilizing your spine and prevent strain.  Having a strong core is not only necessary for many exercises and sports, it's important for keeping a good posture through your daily life, which will prevent a host of other injuries.  Starting your exercise life early also means stronger bones when older [*], and exercising when older means less falls and less injuries from falls. [*]

Short term motivation
To convince your emotional right brain

1. It doesn't take long

Only 20 minutes a week of exercise is enough to improve your mental health, and 2.5 hours a week of moderate exercise or 1.25 hours a week of vigorous exercise is enough to give significant health benefits. [*] Finding that little bit of time is worth it; try cutting out some activity that isn't really making your life better and replace it with this.

2. Just show up

Once you get to the gym, it's easy to put in a full workout. After all, you're already there, so might as well. Therefore, the hardest part of working out is actually just getting out the door. So you only need to motivate yourself enough to put your shoes on and get in your car, momentum will take care of the rest.

3. Spice it up

Fill your MP3 player with tunes that get you going and make you want to move. Find exercises that you think are fun. Try different kinds of exercises to keep things interesting.

4. It feels good

Make the connection between the relaxed, refreshed glow you get after the workout with the workout itself.  In fact, nowadays I even enjoy the slight soreness I get a day or two after the workout.  It really makes me feel alive, and is a constant reminder that I have done well by my body.

5. Get obsessive-compulsive

Track all your data so you can self congratulate as your numbers improve.  I track my bodyweight, bodyfat percentage, as well as my lifts, and I get a sense of accomplishment whenever I review my data.  You can also track changes in your appearance through regular photos.  Engage your sense of vanity!

6. Help your buddy out

Engage your sense of duty; make a pact with a friend or a loved one to get fit. This way when one of you feel like working out, both of you will tend to do it. Not only is wanting to set a good example be a great motivation, so is not wanting to look like you're slacking off.

7. Enjoy the eye candy

Go ahead, ogle the hardbodies at the gym. If you can use either the feeling of desire or envy to drive you, why not take advantage of it. One day it may be you that someone else is ogling for motivation.

Full Sail Silhouette by anoldent
Once you have your motivations set in place, the key is to turn exercising into a habit. Consistency will allow the results to build upon one another, and get you through the lows when your drive is lacking. Soon enough it will be a part of your life, you'll enjoy the fruits of your labor, and you'll wonder how you got along so long without these benefits.

No Response to "Find your drive: An exercise motivational"