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All year, you’ve been great about getting outside to walk, run, hike, bike, and keep up with daily exercise.
But what happens to your motivation now that winter is here? Depending on where you are, it could be snowing, freezing, raining or, at best, chilly.
Knowing that regular exercise can prevent heart attack, stroke, diabetes and more will not get you out of bed and into your sneakers on frigid days like these.
Nor will the fact that you’re having trouble fitting into last year’s jeans.
Let’s face it: it’s all too easy to stop following an exercise program, and nearly impossible to get started again when the weather turns cold…
Or something unexpected derails your routine.
Unless you have some tricks up your sleeve for when life gets in the way, like these…
8 tips and tricks to keep moving when life just gets in the way
If you’re prepared for these inevitable events, you will have a better chance of sticking with it. Here are some tips to help…
1. Find an immediate “why.”
Dr. Michelle Segar is director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center. She believes that “the only way we are going to prioritize time to exercise is if it is going to deliver some kind of benefit that is truly compelling and valuable to our daily life.”
The fear of developing diabetes later in life, the desire to lower our blood pressure numbers, even the desire to be thinner, are not motivators that will last.
In order to stick with exercise, find a “why” that is immediate: to be able to go on a planned outing with your grandchildren, to earn a reward you’ve promised yourself for completing a week of sticking with it… short-term rewards, not scary, long-term possibilities.
2. Find a purpose.
If you can combine exercise with another necessary activity, it will be easier, and there will be less chance you’ll skip it. Bike or walk to work, or take the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator. Park at the far end of the parking lot when you go shopping. You’ll have to walk faster to get your errands done in the same amount of time!
3. Plan and prioritize.
Think about when, where and with whom you’ll exercise. Don’t leave anything to chance or last-minute planning.
Falko Sniehotta, professor of behavioral medicine and health psychology at Newcastle University in England, describes two types of planning. The first is action planning, as described above. The second, and just as important, is coping planning.
If you anticipate things that will get in the way of your exercising and develop a “workaround” for those eventualities, you will be more successful at following through.
4. If it doesn’t work, change it.
What if it rains for a week and you don’t go running? Or what if you try tennis and find out you hate it? Instead of doggedly trying to “follow through,” tell yourself that this method simply isn’t working, and try something else.
5. Be sensible about illness.
Personal trainer Joslyn Rule uses this rule of thumb: If it’s above the neck — a headache or a cold — you’re generally OK to exercise. If it’s below the neck, like if you’re having trouble breathing, then rest. The key is to be sensible and do something, but not more than your body can tolerate.
6. Tap into technology.
Using a Fitbit or other tracker is very motivating for some people. For others, it’s tuning in to a fitness podcast on the days they feel like staying in bed. Explore online videos to discover different fitness methods you may want to try.
7. Don’t put yourself down.
You may have your “why” and your plan, but things can get in the way. Family responsibilities, illness, and work are real. Don’t beat yourself up and say you’re “unmotivated” when you skip exercise. Focus on the times you did stick to the plan, then get up and do it one more time.
8. Use visual motivation.
It may seem silly, but an old-fashioned star chart or a string of red X’s on a calendar has kept many a person true to their fitness plan. There’s something about seeing those marks grow that makes it harder to “break the chain.”
And remember, there are plenty of ways to exercise in the warmth and comfort of your own home. For several free, in-home work out videos, from yoga to planking (and even rebounding), click here.
- No Sweat: Lasting Motivation to Exercise — Dr. Michelle Segar/YouTube
- How to stay fit forever: 25 tips to keep moving when life gets in the way — The Guardian