What are the benefits of working out?
Practicing a sport regularly has lots of benefits both for your body and mind.
- It reduces the risks of diabetes, strokes and heart attacks. I did say it was an affair of the heart…
- It helps you gain strength, endurance and muscle mass to prevent against injury and chronic pain. Being active also increases bone mass, prevents joint pain, helps with movement, makes breathing and balance easier, and allows you to achieve a toned figure.
- Endorphin secretion during physical activity produces a feeling of well-being. In addition, a good supply of oxygen to the brain, like during sports practice, helps optimize brain activity.
- Some activities, like yoga and meditation, also develop your concentration.
- Physical exercise helps get rid of stress, reduces anxiety and depression, allows you to sleep better and reinforces self-esteem.
- Finally, and the list could go on, it teaches values such as perseverance, goodwill, respect and creates social links.
The choice of activity is absolutely crucial
With all the everyday and fashionable sports on offer, you are spoiled for choice! And that’s the hardest part, because it's within the sport that you will have to find your source of motivation. So, you might as well make this task easier for yourself from the get-go and choose wisely.
Sometimes the choice is obvious, and sometimes it’s not. So, you have to ask yourself basic questions to help inform your choice:
- What’s my budget? Free or paying? With equipment or not? Doing exercise without breaking the bank is achievable!
- Single or team sport? For some people, practicing in a club or in a group is already a source of motivation.
- Inside or out? Sometimes doing indoor sports mean you can’t make the excuse that the weather is bad…
- What do I hope to gain? Losing weight, getting stronger muscles, toning up, unwinding, relaxing?
Tips on how to stay motivated when working out
1. Outline your goals
At the start of this article, we mentioned the many benefits of being active. You now have to outline your objectives. Is it about having a new lifestyle, running a marathon, losing weight? We should not be afraid of setting ourselves targets to help us keep going and reach our final goal.
2. Planning sessions to be consistent
We don’t ask ourselves whether we’re doing the exercise or not, of course that might stimulate our imagination a bit too much… Follow my lead 😊
Being consistent with days and times allows you to get into a routine, it’s therefore the best way to get fit. It’s your time, it’s clearly labelled, and you know it is a priority in your diary. Soon you will no longer even think about what you are doing Monday at 19:30, soon you will even look forward to this time.
Are you tired today? Do you feel like you won’t even last one hour? Go for it anyway. You will do what you can, and that’s already very good. And then often your exercise will make you less tired and will recharge your batteries for a few extra hours.
The same goes for on vacation, even if you can’t do your favorite sport as you don’t have the right equipment or facilities… Keep this slot for a walk, a jog, swimming etc… So, don’t forget to pack a suitable outfit.
3. The choice of outfit
A suitable outfit is really important and of course, getting started in an outfit you feel comfortable in will motivate you. Nowadays, several brands, including some ready-to-wear brands, offer very nice outfits at a reasonable price.
On the other hand, if your activity requires a particular accessory, research good deals and the level of quality required. For running for example, although nowadays, you can get yourself specialized clothing at very affordable prices, almost any tracksuit and T-shirt will do the job. However, don’t overlook the benefit of having a good pair of trainers that will protect your knees and spare you a few injuries.
4. Outline sensible goals
This allows you not to get discouraged, to not injure yourself, to learn how to better manage your exercise and therefore to progressively increase your performance whilst avoiding too long a recovery time between sessions. Over time, you will feel more and more comfortable increasing the frequency of them in line with the progress you make. We shouldn’t compare ourselves with others or judge ourselves. Progress and initial exercise will come very quickly! Let’s not forget that above all we are doing all of this for ourselves and not for our gym partner with the perfect legs who also, like you, started out as a beginner one day.
If you are on social media, that works the same way. If you follow athletes’ profiles, it has to be as a source of motivation and not the opposite. They started out one day and then didn’t stop. Everyone has their own goals and their own priorities. And whatever yours are, whatever your pace is, you can already be proud of yourself, that’s all that matters!
5. Get your gym gear ready in advance
For example, if, like me, you rush about in the mornings: get your things ready the night before. This way, you no longer have to quickly fling them on when you jump out of bed. Do you have a yoga class tomorrow after work? Get your bag ready straight away. That way, there is no chance of you leaving without your things because you took too long in the shower.
Basically, you can take your sports clothes off the washing line and place them straight into your sports bag, rather than putting them away in the wardrobe only to have to take them out again. So, now you’re almost operational, like a firefighter!
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6. Listen to music/podcasts/audiobooks/web series
If you exercise alone, indoors for example, it might be a good way of combating monotony.
7. Find yourself a workout buddy
In pairs, it might be easier for you to stick to your commitments and challenge yourself.
8. Track your progress
A logbook to tone up your motivation - you can note down your weekly goal, targets reached, progress made, enjoyment gained. You can use technology: a smartwatch, an app, online community…
9. Reward yourself
We are going to end this post with the best part. We’re not machines and almost all exercise deserves a treat, within reason of course. It’s up to you to determine what that is according to the goals you have achieved. Personally, I aim for a super breakfast after my morning session, it’s really nice.
But this might be a treat if you’re on a diet. You have to learn to relax a bit, let off some steam and give yourself time to recover. It’s the best way to stay motivated. But of course, don’t take advantage of good things at the risk of losing the benefits you have worked so hard to gain. And this could be a new pair of trainers, for example, after running X km.
Editor’s opinion: Change your habits
If you really are finding it difficult to get started, you could try changing some of your habits to set the wheels in motion: walk more, for instance by getting off the bus a stop earlier or avoiding a 5-minute car journey. Take the bike when travelling on journeys that don’t really need to be taken by car: cycle to the post office, cycle to get some bread, maybe even cycle to your work place. Choose the stairs over the lift.
These new habits will allow you to notice changes in your physical health over time. You will become healthier and will gain greater confidence in yourself.
With this new-found energy, physical exercise won’t scare you anymore, and then it will be time for you to get stuck into sporting activities that suit you and start this article from the beginning to help find and maintain your motivation sustainably. When in need, get help from a go-between, :) A sports coach will know how to support you in this step by providing you with a schedule and tailored sessions.
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