- Start Looking at Exercise Differently. All movement is exercise. Give yourself more options. Take the dog for a walk, bike to the store and take five-minute stretch breaks. If you don’t count something as exercise unless it happens in the gym, goes on for 40 minutes or requires a shower afterward, you’re missing some of your best opportunities to stay active.
2. Think Small.This can be hardest for people who expect the most from themselves. Why bother walking around the block when you should be running your usual four miles? Because when you don’t have time to do all four miles, a brisk hike can keep you from feeling that you’ve failed.
3. Set an Agenda. To challenge yourself, set a goal like increasing the speed, frequency or duration of your activity. Maybe it’s time to train for a marathon–or take a walk up the hill in the backyard without getting winded. (It’s ok to think small for your performance agenda).
4. Get off the Beaten Path. Have you ever tried water-skiing? Bowling? Swing dancing? Swimming? Chi kung? How about reversing your power walk route? Exercising at a different time of day? Physical activity isn’t boring, but how you participate in it can be.
5. Use Your Brain. The active mind needs to be engaged. Dissociation tactics like listening to music, watching TV or playing computer games may help you stick with it. As you become more experienced, associative strategies like focusing on your breath or concentrating on your body movement can help you enjoy exercise more.
6. Get an Accountability Partner. Find a friend, mentor or coach to keep you honest. You can either exercise together or simply check in with him or her to report your progress.
7. Plan to Stay Active. Don’t decide in the moment if you can make the choice beforehand. Plan to park farther from the office and put your walking shoes in the car the night before. Plan to take that new yoga class next week.
8. Face Your Fitness Foes. Does vacation throw your exercising schedule out of whack? Work projects overtake you? Get bored? Fear of success? Fitness foes can be beaten once they’ve been identified. You can change your vacation style, set work limits, or find new challenges.
9. Go Tribal. Even if you are introverted, the presence of others in your exercise environment can be motivating. We pick up on other people’s energy. We get into the tribal rhythms of being fully alive. Choose places and times to exercise where there will be other people actively involved in exercise.
10. Use a Script. Think skipping this one little walk won’t matter much? Be prepared with an answer for this excuse. Use images of past successful experiences to remind yourself of how good exercise makes you feel. Or repeat a simple phrase to yourself like every little bit makes a big difference. If you use planning, flexibility and imagination, you won’t ever need to feel like a dropout again.