How To Get Motivated to Exercise

It can be hard to exercise. Here are 5 tips to help you get off the couch and get fit.
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By Linda Wasmer Andrews
WebMD Feature

You know you should do it. And you know why: Exercising -- simply put, moving instead of sitting -- is critical for safeguarding your health and setting a good example for your kids. So why does it seem so hard to get yourself moving?

The truth is: You can. But knowing how and why to exercise isn’t enough.You need to develop the right mind-set to get and stay motivated.

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"Change is hard!" says certified health behavior coach Shelly Hoefs, fitness supervisor at the Mutch Women’s Center for Health Enrichment in Sioux Falls, S.D. "When we try to start exercising, we think of all the excuses for not doing it and all the things that have gotten in the way before. Getting fit starts to seem overwhelming. And that makes it feel stressful. Before long, we don’t want to do it anymore."

Here are 5 steps to get you moving in the right direction -- and keep you going.

1. Find Personal Motivation to Exercise

What you need to get you up off the couch is a reason that's important to you. At first, that may be some external factor, says Cal Hanson, director of the Sanford Wellness Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. It could be a number on the scale that surprises you or your doctor's recommendation that you need to move more to stay healthy.

There are all kinds of benefits to getting fit. Which matters most to you? Something as simple as taking a brisk walk after dinner every night helps to:

  • control your weight
  • strengthen your bones
  • enhance your muscles
  • reduce your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer

Plus, by becoming active, you're being a good role model for your children.

These benefits may get you started, but they may not cut it when it comes to keeping you moving day after day, Hanson says. To keep up your motivation to exercise over time, you also need to find your internal motivators. Maybe taking a yoga class leaves you feeling more energized or less stressed. Maybe a run or walk every day helps you let go of stress. Hanson says these are the kind of rewards that are meaningful to you on a personal level and that can help keep you motivated.

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