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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4. Plan How to Fit Exercise Into a Hectic Schedule

For busy parents, a major obstacle to getting fit is lack of time. If you wait for time to open up, chances are you won't be able to squeeze in a walk or a dance class very often. To avoid getting sidetracked by the daily demands of life, try these tips:

  • "Sit down with your schedule and really carve out blocks of time," says psychologist Susan Bartell, PsyD, author of Dr. Susan's Fit and Fun Family Action Plan. Put it in your calendar like any other appointment.
  • Add physical activity to things you already do. For example, pedal a stationary bike while reading or watching TV. Or take a walk with a friend to catch up instead of calling each other on the phone.
  • Plan activities you can do with your kids, such as going for bike rides or skating. Not only will you find more time for fitness, you'll help inspire your kids to move more.

If you plan ahead for potholes on the road to fitness, you're more likely to stay on course, Bartell says. "When you think through solutions to problems in advance, you're less likely to give up when a pothole comes along."

5. Bounce Back From Setbacks

You’ve set a reasonable fitness goal. You’ve prepared for potential problems. Yet somehow you still didn’t make it to the gym today as you had planned. Don't let that be your downfall.

"For many people, this is a slippery slope," Hanson says. "It reminds them of times when they failed before, and they begin to think of themselves as exercise failures."

When this happens, it’s time for an attitude adjustment so you don’t completely lose your motivation to exercise. If you miss the gym on Monday, that doesn’t mean your whole week is shot, Hanson says. It simply means you need to hit the gym on Tuesday or take the dog for an extra-long walk tonight.

Knowing how to exercise isn’t just a matter of learning how to use your body to hold a yoga pose or swing a racquet. It also involves learning how to use your mind to propel yourself into action and stick with a fitness routine.

"Start thinking of yourself as someone who exercises," says Hoefs. "Eventually, that will become your identity."

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Reviewed on January 14, 2012

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