As much as we all know we have to work out and push ourselves to get physically fit, lack of motivation is a very real thing that feels seriously prohibitive some of the time. So much so that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about a quarter of adults aged 18 and over get the right amount of cardio and muscle-strengthening activity. Without a doubt, a lack of motivation is a big source of why this number is so low. But there are a few smart things you can do to overcome the idleness and kickstart your workout so you stick with it well into your old age.
1. Invest in Better Workout Gear—That exciting, new feeling of a good playlist is right up there with the joy of debuting a great new outfit. With so many comfortable and cute workout leggings and bottoms these days, it’s so easy to get deeply sucked into fitness fashion. And we all know that when we want to put on our fave pair of leggings and tanks, we’re much more likely to hit the gym. New gear can also help ensure that you feel comfortable and supported when you’re going harder than you ever have before. For example, the right supportive sports bra can prevent you from developing pain that halts your workout.
2. Join a Competition—Anyone who has ever been on a competitive sports team won’t be surprised to learn that studies cite competition as the best source of motivation for exercise. Yep, maybe all you need to get yourself back into a physically fit state is to have a good old-fashioned faceoff. Though many of us haven’t been in any sort of competitive setting since high school, there are some great ways to change that no matter how old you are.
- Sign up for an adult kickball league. These leagues exist throughout the country to get grown-ups involved in competition and sports. They bridge sports with fun and socializing, so they’ll help you make friends, too.
- Try out for an intermural baseball, softball, soccer, flag football or basketball league. Slightly more serious, adult sports leagues help people stay physically fit through competitive sports well into adulthood. Community centers, the YMCA and local sports organizations usually run these leagues.
- Join a roller derby league. Roller derby is a full-contact sport where teams (mostly for women, but increasingly for men, too) compete while wearing roller skates. This physically demanding sport is not for the weak!
- Try frisbee golf. Disc golf may not be the most cardio-heavy activity, but it does get you walking and moving your arms. Adults can compete in disc golf tournaments around the country, and it doesn’t take a lot to learn.
3. Work Out with Others—It’s one of the most well-studied motivators out there. Working out with a partner helps keep you accountable and prevents you from skipping sessions, even when you’re feeling super unmotivated. Whether your gym buddy is an actual trainer, a group class or just a pal, use them to your advantage!
4. Make a Next-Level Playlist—Have you ever been so excited to listen to a good playlist that you make up excuses to do whatever you do when you’re listening to music, like drive or work out? A well-stocked playlist can be one of the best motivators, helping to dial up the energy and push you further when you’re starting to tire out. Regularly spend time finding songs and artists you love. This can be a time-consuming process that feels like a waste of time, but it’s well worth your while if it helps get you motivated or simply makes you happy.
5. Track (And Share) Your Progress—Tracking your progress is vital to helping you see that pushing yourself harder is really worth it. There are a number of ways you can track—whether it be through a fitness tracking app or an old-fashioned spreadsheet—and monitor your successes and failures. Don’t be afraid to occasionally share your progress, either. There are many people online and in your real life who will enjoy hearing about your fitness journey as you go.
6. Eat Right and Sleep More—It sounds so cliché, but never underestimate how much your sleep and diet affect how motivated you feel. The wrong foods can leave the body feeling sluggish and unresponsive, while the right ones can help you go harder and reach your fitness goals faster. At the same time, getting a good night’s rest will help prepare the mind and body for a full day of burning calories and staying active. If you tend to have sleep issues, prioritize addressing this above all else.
7. Set Specific Goals—Setting attainable, measurable goals is an excellent way to help you track your progress as you go about your health and wellness journey. Try to come up with concrete numbers—a certain amount of weight loss or muscle gained, for example—and write them down so you always have them as a reference point. A good fitness tracking app (or even the notes app on your phone) can be a great resource for setting and measuring goals.
Do Something You Love
The biggest life hack for anyone looking for an amazing way to get motivated about working out is this—pick a workout you really love. Whether it involves sports, water or pushing yourself to the physical limit with cardio and weight training, the most important thing is that you actually want to do it. After all, routine and repetition are vital to success in any fitness endeavor!