10 tips to motivate you to exercise

I love to be active so it’s a bit easier for me to stay motivated to exercise. But I know not everyone shares my natural enthusiasm. I wanted to share 10 tips to motivate you to exercise.

My motivation to stay active

Being a three-time cancer survivor also greatly motivates me to stay active. My body went through surgeries, chemo, radiation and more to clear those cancers. So it’s important for me to take care of my body to keep it strong and healthy as possible.

But even without those reasons, I simply feel so much better when I’m active. Not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Plus I’m choosing activities that I enjoy, making it easier to commit and fully engage. Let me hike in the woods, ride a bike or dance in Zumba and I am a HAPPY woman! My body feels strong, my mind clear and my emotions high. I almost forget I’m also getting a great workout!

Many people use the excuse of not exercising because they don’t like the gym. And many gyms have been closed off and on during the pandemic. But that shouldn’t stop you! There are so many ways to stay active. And have fun doing it!

We all need motivation at times so I wanted to share what has helped me through three cancers and just life in general.

10 tips to motivate you to exercise

Break it down to keep it simple.

Instead of focusing on a huge goal right away, commit to smaller ones. Setting out to hike five miles might seem like a lot so focus on the first mile, then when you reach that, think about the second and so on. The first time I committed to biking across Iowa with Team Livestrong, my anxiety spiked at the thought of biking 45-70 miles in one day. But when I broke it into smaller intervals, it sounded less overwhelming. So I set my Garmin bike computer to acknowledge five-mile intervals – it beeps every time I reach those five miles, then again and again. You can do the same if you’re starting cardio, such as walking or running. Maybe set a goal of 15-minutes in the morning and evening. Not too overwhelming at all!

Easy to grab home equipment keeps me motivated to exercise!
Make a date to be active.

It’s easy to get busy during the day and then think of working out as you’re sitting down to relax or fall into bed at the end of the day. It’s best to schedule activity into your day. Treat it like a date or mandatory meeting. Before COVID, I went to Zumba 2-3 times a week. I added it to my calendar and committed to keeping that appointment.

Find a friend.

An accountability partner can help keep you committed to a program or class. Plus mutually supporting each other makes it fun. While the cardio from Zumba is great, part of the reason I remained faithful to attending classes was seeing several friends at the class. I still have ‘accountability’ friends – we text and call to see how our exercise goals are going and motivate each other!

Online programs.

There are SO many online fitness programs available, from yoga to Pilates to dances to strength training and more. it seems like lots more are available since the pandemic, which is awesome. Many are free or low cost. Search YouTube for a type of class you’d like to try. There are also several paid subscription-based sites featuring specific exercise programs. I like the Beachbody On Demand programs for the variety of exercises offered – cardio, weights, yoga and more – and the fitness levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced). Plus, most programs have someone demonstrating modified movements.

Use household items.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on home gym equipment. Milk jugs and soup cans provide weight. A chair or wall helps with balance exercises. Going up and down a staircase is good for cardio and your leg muscles.

Modify the move to meet your own needs.

I get it, not all exercise moves are accessible to everyone. As a bone cancer survivor, I had my left lower femur and knee replaced with titanium. This means that I can’t participate in high impact activities (running, jumping, etc.), nor activities that put a lot of pressure on the pin holding my upper and lower leg together (limited squats and lunges). However, this doesn’t stop me! There are modifications to jumping jacks, push ups, squats and more. Rather than run, walk. I’ve come across great videos showing modifications to common exercise moves on YouTube or ask a trainer for assistance.

Participating in a cycling event keeps me active
Join an event.

There are so many events that encourage you to move! You can choose an activity, such running, biking, swimming, walking, hiking and more. Since the pandemic hit, many events switched to virtual, providing even greater options to participate from the safety and ease of your neighborhood or local park area. Motivate yourself even more by registering for a charity event. Last year I participated in virtual cycling events supporting Livestrong’s cancer support programs. I signed up again with Team Livestrong to bike across Iowa in July (donate to my fundraising page). Having a goal keeps me motivated to stay active.

Track your milestones.

There is a huge variety of health and exercise tools, from watches to apps to bike computers. Most fitness apps offer a free version to track steps, activity and even calories/food if you want. I admittedly really like my Garmin cycling computer as it tracks my mileage, routes and health stats (cadence, heart rate, etc). It’s fun to look back at the year to see how many miles I covered and maybe set a higher goal for the new year!

Reward yourself.

It’s good to have goals! Whether you’re committing to walking, hiking, running or biking a certain distance or completing an exercise program or focusing on staying active a certain number of days in the month, it can be fun and motivating to work toward a goal. Your reward can be small or big, but know that you deserve it!

Try new activities.

I’m a big fan of being open to new opportunities. I expand that idea to activities too. My philosophy? You don’t know if you like something if you don’t try it (hmmm, that actually sounds like my parents’ philosophy when I was younger and didn’t want to eat a new food, ha!). Not sure where to start? Ask friends what they like to do to stay active or search meetup.com for different activities.

What do you like?

I hope these 10 tips motivate you to exercise. Do you have favorite activities or exercises that help keep you motivated? Share in the comments!

**Always check with your doctor before beginning a program. I am not a trainer nor doctor and only offer these as suggestions based on my personal experiences. I am not receiving any financial benefits or otherwise for recommending any programs above (I just like them and wanted to share).

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