With the business of the end of the school year and the rush to meet scheduling and work deadlines before people leave for summer travel, the second half of of May can be a stressful time. Amid all these demands, it can be a struggle to keep up a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise schedule. Staying motivated for exercise and a healthy lifestyle requires hard work. You need to keep the vision of your goals and the joyful anticipation of future success active in your mind on a daily basis. And you need to anticipate the inevitable barriers that are likely to trip you up so you can prepare for them. Willpower is in your head, but not all in your head. You can structure your environment to make the healthy behavior easier to do, while ensuring that the unhealthy choice takes more effort. And you can train your mind to overcome mental obstacles and distractions.
Research-Based Tips for Success
The tips below will help motivate you to get started exercising or sustain the exercise habit even when you don’t feel like it:
- Structure your environment for success by leaving your running shoes near the door, your gym clothes laid out, or a full water bottle in the fridge to make it easy to get out the door in the morning when you’re tired.
- Find a fitness buddy to hold you accountable, celebrate your successes, and make the routine more enjoyable.
- Pin stickies with motivating slogans and pictures of yourself at the peak of health next to your alarm clock, on refrigerator doors and on the television to remind you of the rewards of healthy choices.
- Make public and private commitments to manageable, specific fitness goals.
- Create a motivating image of yourself exercising. Imagine the scene and what you would see, hear, observe, and feel.
- Visualize yourself running in nature, breathing the fresh mountain or sea air and feeling calm and energized. Or imagine yourself at the finish line of that race and feel your feelings of pride and accomplishment. Regularly bring up this image and breath in the energy of these joyful feelings.
The Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation
Running has many health benefits, including
- sharper mental focus,
- depression prevention,
- anxiety relief,
- more positive mood chemicals
- weight loss, and
- greater physical fitness and endurance
Yet many of us struggle to stay motivated through periods of boredom, pain, and injury. Below, is my quote from an article in Livestrong.com. In the article, I discuss research on runners showing that those who run as a personal challenge are more likely to persevere and be successful than people running for external reasons, such as to impress others or lose weight.
“#11 According to California-based clinical health psychologist Melanie Greenberg, research shows that many runners are motivated by internal factors such as pride and joy in the activity and commitment to a personal challenge. Let your ego take control when trying to find motivation to run and train. Intrinsic motivation can be much more long lasting, says Greenberg. Those with intrinsic motivation are more likely to withstand the pain, injuries, boredom and need for continuous practice, she says. Take pride in your athletic abilities and don’t be afraid to boast your successes to stay motivated.”
For the full article, by journalist Shannon Philpott, click here: