Even if you know that squeezing in a workout is good for you (you do, and it is), that doesn’t always mean it’s going to be easy to get around to it. Whether we like it or not, sometimes the motivation of losing weight and staying healthy simply isn’t enough. Thankfully, the question of getting yourself to workout when you’d rather be doing anything but is one that’s been tackled on more than one occasion – and by science no less. We’ve taken a look at the studies and picked out seven tips and tricks to help you get those workouts in – and to help you actually enjoy doing it. (But, like, actually.)
Surround Yourself with Healthy Competition
It might feel great to be around people who seem like they are constantly doing better than you, be it at the gym, at work, or just in life, but a study from the University of Pennsylvania shows that healthy competition can actually motivate you more than words of encouragement. Basically, if you see someone else performing well in something, it will inspire you to want to better yourself. To upgrade the competition in your workout routine, try doing group classes or keep yourself up-to-date with your super fit friend’s social media. Do this, and motivation will come naturally.
When it comes to hitting the gym consistently, making your workout more of a habit than an obligation is key. How do you just build a habit? A study from the University of Iowa says that the best way to make the gym or any kind of workout a habit is by doing it at the same time every day. That way, you’ll have a mental cue that tells your mind and body it’s time to get in your daily dose of exercise. So, pick a time to go the gym every day, and pretty soon, exercising won’t feel optional – it’ll just feel like another part of your daily routine.
Turn up the Tunes
A lot of people listen to music when working out, but does it actually affect your performance? According to science, it does. A lot. According to Scientific American, music is a good distraction from fatigue and pain during a workout, and can help boost your endurance and metabolism. That means that music can literally make for a better workout. And while picking upbeat songs is important for motivation, it’s also important to consider your emotional connection with the song. If you relate more to a certain artist or a particular set of lyrics, you’re more likely to perform better when listening to that song, even if it isn’t as high-energy as some of the others on your playlist.
Focus on Your Accomplishments
Wouldn’t it be so much easier to drag yourself to the gym if you knew you would genuinely enjoy the workout to come? Thanks to research from Homboldt University of Berlin, actually getting that enjoyment may not be so farfetched. The study found that for both men and women, the key to enjoying a workout was achieving a “sense of accomplishment, mastery, or winning.” And while some people might skip a tough workout because they’re worried they won’t be able to conquer it, it’s important to remember that success comes in lots of forms. Just the act of getting up and going to the gym alone is an accomplishment.
Try Something New
Most of us are programmed to feel more comfortable with a pattern or routine in life. But when that same attitude extends to the gym, your workout can get boring and monotonous really quickly. Another point made in the study from Homboldt University is that novel experiences and new activities are a key to keeping your workouts not just tolerable, but enjoyable. Of course, going completely out of your comfort zone and trying something you’re not too crazy about from the get go can do more harm for your motivation than good, so start small. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try but never got around to it, now is the time to go for it. Switching up your workout will not only make it more enjoyable, it will also help you train new muscles, which is the most effective way to get in shape and prevent injury.
Find a Buddy
Alone time is important, but doing pretty much anything with a friend is going to be more fun than going solo. If you’re lacking motivation and feeling like you might want to skip the gym, having a friend with the same fitness goals will help keep you on track, according to the findings from a study from the University of Aberdeen. Choose your buddy carefully, though, because the study showed that certain qualities made for better performance. If your buddy offers you more emotional support, you are likely to work out more than if they offer you basic, practical support.
Try a Team Sport
If you were an athlete in high school, you probably remember how easy it was to stay in shape when your sport was in season. And it makes sense, since one study from the Journal of American College Health found that people are more motivated to play sports because they associate it with enjoyment and a challenge. Whether it’s just joining a recreational team through your gym or just getting together with a small group of friends, get out there and start playing today. You’ll switch up your routine, get the same exercise you would normally, and you’ll probably have a good time doing it.