Everyone is always searching for the secret sauce for exercise motivation. Even if you’ve found a workout that you love, there are days when you don’t want to do it. Days can turn into weeks, which turn into months and before long you can’t remember the last time you went to the gym or did your before-work Tabata training.
You probably think that staying motivated has something to do with a magical internal force that you blame yourself for not being able to control. But new studies show that there are some specific practices that will help you reach your goals.
Below are a couple of tips to help you get moving when you know you should but can’t. They might not be the quick fix strategies like drink this potion twice a day and don’t eat these three foods that you’re looking for. However, they do provide insight into some long term changes that you can make that will work if you give them a try.
As an added bonus, I threw in some exercise advice from Bob Harper should you ever find yourself on a deserted island.
Learning to live in the moment can have a huge impact on your productivity, weight and health. Now it seems that mindfulness meditation is a topic that is being studied in sports medicine. According to Gregory Cherok, a sports psychology consultant with the American College of Sports Medicine, research shows that mindfulness meditation improves attention and sharpens impulse control.
But, the simple skill of living in the present isn’t as easy to acquire as it sounds. Our human brains have a tendency to skip around from past, to present to future throughout the day. This is a distraction that takes us away from what is happening in the here and now.
Chertok says that mindfulness training is a critical skill in sports. Performance occurs in present time and focusing on past failures leads to anxiety and muscle tension. He believes that mediation can alleviate exercise boredom, one of the main reasons people have trouble sticking with an exercise program. Chertok also suggests that people use one of the many meditation apps that are available
Tip – Shut out the noise and distractions for a few minutes each day and focus solely on your goals. Mindfulness meditation will keep you centered and provide relief for the stress that goes with trying to find the time to do the things that are most important to you.
Early To Bed, Early To Rise
It seems that night owls struggle with exercise motivation more than their early-to-bed peers do.
A new study recently published in the journal Sleep, suggests that people that come alive when the sun goes down have difficulty finding the time or the motivation to exercise.
The study measured the habits of 123 healthy adults that slept for an average of six and a half hours a night. Over the course of a week each participant’s sleep was monitored with a wrist actigraphy and a sleep diary.
One of the lead researchers of the project, Dr. Kelly Glazer Baron, an associate professor of neurology and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Northwestern University in Chicago, said that the average exercise was 83 minutes of vigorous activity per week.
“This was a highly active sample averaging 83 minutes of vigorous activity per week,” Baron said. “Even among those who were able to exercise, waking up late and being an evening person made it more difficult.”
Baron says that the study shows that circadian rhythms need to be considered when recommending exercise programs and interventions. “Sleep timing should be taken into account when discussing exercise participation,” she added. “We could expect that sleep timing would play even a larger role in a population that had more difficulty exercising.”
Tip – If you’re a night owl and have a hard time adhering to an exercise routine, this news should be key in helping you identify and overcome motivational barriers that you may not have been aware of. Adjusting your sleep patterns so that you get to bed earlier and up earlier may be the first step towards better exercise adherence.
The Deserted Island Exercise
Since we’re on the topic of exercise motivation I saw this today and had to share. Bob Harper, trainer on NBC’s Biggest Loser, says that the Burpee – hated by many and loved by a rare few – is the best exercise for, well, for anything!
The burpee that you learned to despise many years ago in grade school has not only made a comeback, it has now been endorsed by Bob Harper as being the one fitness move to take with you to a deserted island. That’s kind of a funny analogy but I get what he’s saying. You can do a burpee anywhere without any equipment.
Burpees strengthen both the upper and lower body, enhance mobility and balance, and kick up your metabolism. “It does it all,” Harper says. “You will get the workout of your life.”
If you’re motivated to exercise, and specifically, motivated to do burpees, here’s a quick how-to video for you.
Don’t be discouraged if you start out only being able to do one or two. Keep adding a couple of burpees to your workout and eventually you’ll be able to do a full Tabata workout using just the burpee.
A Tabata workout is 20 seconds of movement followed by 10 seconds of rest for eight cycles. In other words, do as many burpees as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10, then start again.
Interested in a 30 Day Burpee Challenge? Click here.
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