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20 ways to stay motivated

4 MIN READ • 2nd September 2016

Get your workout mojo back with these motivational tips and tricks

From work deadlines to sore hamstrings, there are a number of reasons for losing motivation to train. While some of life’s obstacles are unavoidable, too many skipped sessions can see your health and fitness take a step backwards. Try these tips and tricks to make sure that – real emergencies aside – you’ll never miss a session again.

  • Positive rewards are useful when trying to maintain good exercise habits, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine. Pre-book your massage for the day after your sweat-sesh and it can act as the carrot to your workout stick. Plus, if you know you’ve got some muscle therapy lined up you’ll be more inclined to give your workout your all.

  • Taking your workout outdoors could be the key to boosting your motivation. In a study from the University of California San Diego, those who exercised outside exercised longer and more often than those working out indoors – clocking up an extra 30 minutes of activity a week.

  • Studies have shown that training logs are a great tool for maintaining your motivation and exercise intention. After exercising, write down how you feel. Next time you are low on motivation to go for a run or to get to the gym, you can pull out the diary and read about how great you felt after nailing that 5K.

  • If you’re struggling to stick to your fitness plan, try doing your workouts in the morning. According to research from the American Exercise Council, people who exercise in the morning are more consistent than those who leave it till later in the day, when there are likely to be more obstacles or responsibilities to derail your routine.

  • If you’re a slow riser, try simple tricks like putting your alarm on the other side of the room or immediately opening your curtains. “By opening your curtains immediately when you wake up, you suppress the melatonin levels and then feel less sleepy,” says Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep and energy expert at Nightingale Hospital. “This sets you up for a more energetic day.” More energy means more motivation to nail that workout.

  • Try making a pre-workout shot using beetroots. A study from Kansas State University found that taking a shot of beetroot juice two hours pre-workout, helped to boost energy, endurance and stamina during exercise, helping users to exercise up to 16 percent longer.

  • Eliminating boredom is one of the most important factors for maintaining your fitness routine. One study at the University of Florida found that exercisers who varied their workouts were 15 percent more likely to keep their routine than people who stuck with the same workout each week.

  • Investing in wearable workout equipment that allows you to monitor your progress can help motivate you to stick to your goals. Research in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity found that people who wore pedometers over a 12-week period increased their mood and exercise output, walking an extra 1,000 steps daily.

  • Struggling to squeeze that 30-minute session into one sitting? Try breaking up your workout by doing a 10- to 15-minute session in the morning and one after work. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh found that women dropped equal amounts of weight doing one 30-minute workout, two 15-minute sessions, or three 10-minute bursts.

  • Apps such as Sweatcoin could help give you that much-needed incentive to get active. After tracking your activity, Sweatcoin converts your movement into a currency that you can spend on real life goods, service and experiences, including trainers and exercise classes.

  • Keep your eyes off the clock when exercising and not only will it help you stay ‘in the zone’, but you’ll get through the workout before you know it. If you’re on a machine, try putting something over the digital display to resist the temptation to peek.

  • Next time you’re dreading those tuck jumps and squats, remember that being able to exercise is a privilege. Some people have physical limitations that prevent them from lifting weights or taking that gruelling LBT class. You’re lucky to get to do those 50 burpees.

  • All the work that goes into prepping for your workout can be a greater hurdle than the workout itself. Take control and get yourself ready for your workout ahead of time. Whether this means packing your gym bag the night before or sleeping in your workout gear, take the ‘maybe’ out of your workout and plan to succeed.

  • Upgrade your playlist with fresh new tunes that will get your blood pumping and help keep you moving. Try synchronizing the music tempo to the pace of your workout too. A University of Toronto study found that people get better results when the beat of the music complements their pace.

  • You don’t necessarily have to go hard or go home. A University of Georgia study of people who reported persistent fatigue found that those who rode a stationary bike three times a week at low intensity got a bigger energy boost than those who didn’t exercise at all. If you’re really not feeling it, aim to do just 10 minutes. Doing something is better than nothing, and who knows, you might do more.

  • There’s a lot to be said about the power of scent. Research in the International Journal of Neuroscience found that sniffing the herb rosemary promoted alertness, whilst another study in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology found that sniffing peppermint delivered improved exercise performance, including increased running speed.

  • If it’s your energy that’s letting you down, try some bee pollen. Used by athletes to boost endurance and resistance, bee pollen is one of the few nonmeat sources of vitamin B12, which plays a key role in energy production in the body. Try sprinkling onto your morning cereal or into smoothies for an all-natural buzz.

  • Remember when you were a kid and exercising wasn’t a chore, but merely play? Channel your inner child and engage in exercises that you find fun to maximise your staying power. Research from Cornell University also found that when you think of your workout as fun rather than exercise you’re less likely to stuff your face afterwards. Win-win!

  • A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that 91 percent of people who planned their intention to exercise, specifically writing down when and where they would exercise each week, ended up following through. But don’t set yourself up for failure – make your goals challenging yet attainable. You’re much more likely to stick with 25 daily squats than knocking out two miles a day.

  • If you happen to miss a workout, don’t beat yourself up. Instead use it as a learning exercise to see what went wrong. Did you go to bed too late? Did you eat the wrong food? Listen to your body and identify what went wrong so that you can bounce back stronger the next time.

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