What is the most common reason preventing us from exercising regularly? For many of us, the answer is simple: We don’t have time. To be fair, this is a legitimate explanation. There are weeks when deadlines at work can be overwhelming or family obligations outside the office seem to take up all of our spare time.
But let’s be honest: What we really mean when we say we don’t have time to exercise is that we don’t consider it a priority given the time we have available. In our previous post Exercise…It’s Part of Our Job we highlighted the compelling research illuminating the cognitive benefits of regular exercise. Exercise enables us to work more efficiently and be more productive. Yet many of us continue to view exercise as a luxury: If only we had more time.
It’s time to consider exercise as a top priority, but how? Below is a research-based list of tips to get you started.
- Find a physical activity you ACTUALLY LIKE. When we think of “working out” or “physical activity” many of us go straight to the treadmill or weight machines at the gym. There are many ways to work out other than going to the gym. Finding a physical activity, you actually enjoy is probably one of the most if not THE most important aspect in a successful exercise regimen. So, find something you are looking forward to doing like dancing, softball, swimming, or even a fun new workout class like barre. You are more likely to stick with an activity if you genuinely enjoy doing it.
- Exercise in a group, the effective way. We often hear that finding an exercise regimen that involves other people is a sure-fire way to stay motivated. Working out with a group adds a social, fun aspect to getting some exercise, increasing the odds that you’ll keep doing it.
However, there is another layer of research to consider. Studies indicate that not all “group” activities are equally effective at sustaining our interest. We are far more likely to stick with an exercise when other people are dependent on our participation. For example, the standard yoga or pilates class allows each individual to work out on their own within the context of a group. Research indicates that exercising as part of a team i.e., volleyball, tennis or soccer, is exponentially more effective in keeping your interest. In these types of team-based activities your efforts contribute directly to a team’s success, where if you don’t show up, the team will suffer. The idea of letting down teammates is not something we as people enjoy doing thus further motivating us to make it a priority.
With the current state of the COVID pandemic, group exercise can be a little difficult however, completely attainable. With companies like Pelaton and Mirror you can sign up and attend live classes where you can interact with others, compete against the community and invite your workout buddies to cheer you on. Gyms and personal trainers are offering Zoom classes and even FREE Instagram live workouts. All of the above alternatives allow you to work out in the comfort and safety of your own home and still socialize, compete and be held accountable to your workout buddies.
- Focus on performance. Instead of focusing on “just getting some exercise,” focus on leveling up your performance in the activity you enjoy. According to psychologists, mastery goals are goals that center on achieving new levels of competence and have consistently been shown to predict persistence across a wide range of domains. What does this mean? Invest in a trainer, hire a coach and purchase the right clothing and equipment. The additional financial investment will also increase your level of commitment, while the steady gains in performance will keep you interested and motivated over time.
Regardless of how you choose to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, utilizing one of these research-based tips to get you started will help put you on the road to a successful and sustainable workout regimen.
Stay tuned for our upcoming article highlighting how to promote and/or incentivize exercise to your employees.