You know what's the hardest part about exercising? It isn't your aching muscles or the tiredness you feel; it's how to stay motivated exercising. Somehow, we always find a way--perhaps an excuse not to do it that week--and we eventually go back to our old ways of being sedentary. To avoid this disturbingly common phenomenon, here are a few tips on how to stay motivated to exercise.
Find a convenient location
Look for a place that's convenient (i.e. accessible) for exercising. You can go to your neighbourhood gym for workouts or simply go around your block for your jogging jaunts. The important part is that the place is accessible from where you live, work, or study to make it easier to form into a habit. What's more, having a convenient place to exercise makes it more difficult for you to come with an excuse not to exercise.
Make it fun
It's hard to sustain an activity if you don't like doing it in the first place. If you want to stay motivated to exercise, you'll have to engage in something that you think is fun. Think of a sport or physical activity that you enjoy doing--if you like basketball, tennis, biking or whatever other pursuit, then do it regularly. The health benefits would simply be secondary.
Exercise with a group
Look for a companion or a group that you can exercise with. Having someone with you in your workouts would motivate you to continue what you're doing because it keeps you accountable. If you're part of a group exercise, you'll also be motivated to train harder, or at least keep pace with the others to avoid embarrassing yourself. If you're with your friends, or if you develop friendships in the group, you'll have a support system that would encourage you to keep going.
Set doable goals
When you exercise regularly, try to set attainable goals to keep you motivated. Aim for bite-sized and realistic objectives that you can achieve in a week or two. This will make you feel great for hitting your goals in a short span. Perhaps you can have one overarching goal and have several smaller goals in between.
Buy more workout outfits
Consider getting more workout clothes to get rid of your reasons not to exercise. Sometimes, it's so easy to say that you don't have clean clothes to exercise. More importantly, buying more workout clothes makes you more invested in the effort and bolsters your identity as someone who exercises regularly. Exercising now becomes part of what you do. But don't just buy a couple of outfits; try to buy at least a week's worth of workout clothes so that you can exercise for that period without having to hurriedly wash the night before.
Share your workouts online
Ever heard of the social networking site DailyMile? It functions as a social training log that allows you to share your exercise routines with friends and contacts. The concept works because it makes you accountable--there's an online record that people see. Furthermore, it provides you a support group for your efforts to exercise. Take note that you can also share your exercise routines in other social networking sites.
Establish a regular schedule
One approach to make it easier to sustain your exercising efforts is to make it a regular part of your schedule. It doesn't have to be large blocks of time--you can set aside 30 minutes to an hour and do it regularly until it becomes a habit and way of life. When exercising becomes a part of you, it's so easy to stay motivated doing it.