It is not always easy to find the motivation to train, to leave the house and go to the gym or get dressed in workout gear to run to the park or to start your exercise session at home. Likewise, it can be hard to start going to the gym or doing a physical activity after the summer holidays or the Christmas break.
Regular physical training is useful not only for those who want to lose weight and get in shape. However, for those who want to stay healthy and enjoy all the benefits that constant fitness activity offers, it is vital to stay motivated. I have seen many aspiring fitness buffs struggle to push themselves while some managed to keep focused thanks to following basic motivation tips.
Exercise improves mood, relieves stress, back pain, and joint pain. It keeps the cardiovascular and respiratory system in shape, prevents tumors and lowers the level of blood cholesterol. In short, the reasons for practicing physical activity are wide-ranging.
Scientifically Proven Motivation Tips
Here are top scientifically proven tricks that boost motivation for training by leveraging psychology.
Write down your goals
Writing your goals in black and white and sharing them with friends is one of the secrets stay motivated. Researchers at the Dominican University of California asked individuals to write down their goals and keep their friends updated every week.
The subjects who followed this approach increased the likelihood of achieving their goals by up to 33 percent when compared to those who did not write down goals. In the group that wrote and shared the goals, 76 percent of subjects achieved them by the end of the study.
Post workouts on social media
The mechanism of sharing is the same as the previous method. A 2013 study published in Translational Behavioral Medicine found that for every 10 tweets participants lost 5 percent of their body weight. Another study, conducted by the co-founder of Weilos, a social media platform aimed at weight loss found that those who posted selfies showcasing the progress made in the gym lost more weight in a week than those who had not shared them.
Bet on your goals
A threat on your bank account balance is worth a thousand motivations. In a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers asked participants to wager money on their weight loss goals. After eight months, those who bet lost almost nine kilos more than those who abstained from the challenge.
Have fun doing it with your friends, partner, sisters, and brothers. This helps you to lose not only weight but also reach any other fitness goals associated with different forms of physical exercise.
Avoid unrealistic goals
Whether you want to see yourself leaner, toned or muscular, avoid setting unrealistic goals. Doing so can be a source of disappointment and loss of morale. This is demonstrated by a study that gave the participants two different diaries to write goals and results. One of the diaries should feature images of lean, toned and perfect bodies while the other shows neutral images.
The group with unattainable models on the cover often added high-calorie snacks to the diet and gained weight during the study. On the other hand, the group with the neutral diaries lost weight.
Work out with a friend
The researchers found that individuals who train in the company of a colleague reach their goals and lose more weight than those who train alone. This approach provides the much-needed encouragement in addition to some degree of competition, which is triggered when training as a duo or as part of a group. Training alone can become boring, and the risk of skipping sessions is undoubtedly higher than training with other people, thus enjoying mutual support.
There are two periods during the year that see peaks in gym enrollments: in autumn and at the beginning of the new year. These are times when good intentions on transforming physique reach their peak.
Often, individuals buy training gear required for the workouts and start headlong. In the first weeks, they dedicate four to five workouts or more. However, with time, the individuals begin to limit the number of times they head to the gym.
This change in tempo is typically characterized by a series of problems (excuses) that seem urgent, which results in skipping workout sessions. After a while, most of the aspiring fitness buffs find themselves sadly looking at the new training gear sitting idle.
Whatever your physical fitness goal, learn to focus on small targets rather than stay focused on the ultimate goal. If you need months of training to achieve a specific weight or performance, it can be easy to lose motivation. However, setting intermediate goals will help you keep your motivation high and give you the opportunity to celebrate your results.
Measure and recognize your progress
Keeping track of your workouts and results regarding timing, weight, constancy, and sensations is a good way to be constantly aware of the task at hand. Depending on your setup, you can use a diary or one of the many free online services to keep track of your improvements.
In addition to measuring, it is essential to recognize your progress. Furthermore, it is useful to enjoy the positive changes that can be recorded. For example, if the goal is to lose weight, take time to look at the large size outfits you used to wear. This will give you renewed energy to continue towards your goal.
Celebrating results by rewarding yourself with a gift (a new pair of shoes, pants, a massage or sauna) can be important. Rewarding means loving oneself and reiterating that the search for physical well-being is critical. Also, the awards and celebrations help to break the routine and ward off the monotony, which is one of the main enemies of motivation.
Procrastination is a sign that you are getting bored. If the goal you set will make you rejoice, the secret to achieving it in the shortest possible time is to enjoy every single step of the way.
The next time you feel guilty for missing your workout at the gym, stop and take the time to think about what could make your training session more fun. Enjoying the pursuit of physical well-being is critical to your success.
It is important to note that contingencies exist and no individual is 100 percent motivated every day. When unexpected events occur, or you are experiencing a bad day, take a step back and dedicate time to yourself. The sooner you accept the bad days, the faster they will pass, and you can go back to working towards your physical well-being with the motivation you had before and with your self-esteem intact, if not better.
I think that skipping a workout or stopping your diet and then resuming is a sign of great mental strength and motivation. In the face of unforeseen events, one of the keys to motivation is the acceptance of difficulties.
Do not be afraid to change your approach
During the journey towards your goal, you may feel the need to change your plan. It may be that you are following your program to the letter but that it does not give you satisfaction or fun. In this case, do not be afraid to experiment. Changing the approach to look for a more stimulating and enjoyable routine does not translate to failure.
On the contrary, in most cases, it means just the opposite. Some examples of new approaches include interspersing one routine with another — for instance, switching running with spinning, swimming with step, changing gym or lap or just days of the week or training methodology.
Keep your initial goal in mind
If you feel that your motivation is coming down, try to recall the initial reasons for your goal. If your goal were aligned with your values, you would see that you can easily forget the problems and difficulties of the moment and focus on the real goal.
If you do not like what you are doing and you feel it as a duty, and none of the current approaches have helped you, do not be afraid to change it. Looking for physical well-being through something you do not like is not heroic, it is counterproductive. Surely, you can get better results by doing something you want best, and that excites you.
Benefits of Physical Exercises
The benefits of physical activity are scientifically proven by health professionals and psychologists. It is clear that those who enroll in the gym or start playing sports, do so to improve overall health and wellness. However, this is not all. The benefits of sport extend well beyond the physical aspect, even influencing mental well-being.
Intense exercise promotes the release of endorphins, a natural chemical produced by our body that creates a feeling of well-being and happiness. As a result, the positive mood helps prevent depression, anxiety and many other psychological illnesses that can make life difficult.
Performing physical exercises serves precisely to avoid stress. Sport increases the production of norepinephrine, a chemical that allows the brain to improve the reaction to stressful situations or extreme situations. This means that in principle that you feel better about yourself. With the increase in self-esteem, you will love yourself better and, therefore, it will be easier for others to like you.
As a result, you will not only make new friends, but you will also consolidate your existing relationships. Also, you may create new acquaintances in the gym. Any exercise can help to distract the mind and make the brain and body relax. In sports, some neurotransmitters are released that help reduce anxiety symptoms.
Boost cognitive capabilities
By participating in sporting activities like weightlifting and bodybuilding between the ages of 35 and 45, you contribute to the increase in the production of chemical reactions in the brain. In turn, this prevents degeneration and oxidation of the hippocampal neurons.
This causes cognitive development to continue and old age to become more pleasant. Furthermore, by improving your vascular health, you will avoid heart disease.
The increase of cells in the hippocampus also allows greater ease of learning and improves the retention of new information. Several studies have shown the relationship between the development of children and their physical condition. This principle has also been verified in elderly subjects in which case exercise and sport bring not inconsiderable benefits to memory.
Exercise keeps you active even though you will notice the fatigue during the first few days (until you are used to it). You will feel more energetic in a short time, and you will be more productive in your daily activities.
Doing sports during the hours when most people rest, such as in the morning or after lunch give you an extra dose of energy and makes you more active during the day. Having a better perception of yourself, being happy and feeling good will help you improve your social relationships. In this way, you will easily attract the attention of others as you will have more confidence in yourself.
This will encourage you to participate in organized activities, to practice sports in groups or to start a discussion with unknown people. All this will make you feel good and positive.
Exercising outdoors in the winter
Outdoor sports are a very useful form of training even when it is cold and low temperatures do not have to be a deterrent. Even lovers of outdoor sports can often be influenced by the winter weather and give up their training sessions.
If you are also a passionate runner, jump on the skates or dedicate yourself to fit walking in the park, you do not have to worry about the cold. Get up from the sofa, wear training gear suitable for the season and go out to train.
Choose protective but breathable garments and dress in layers to modulate the body temperature according to the external climatic variations. There are several reasons to practice outdoors even when the temperatures are low.
Calorie consumption increases. To keep the body temperature constant, around 37 degrees Celsius, the body is forced to burn more calories: in one hour of running at five degrees Celsius, you consume 600, which is twice as necessary with a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. One becomes accustomed to dealing with cold with less effort because adaptation gradually leads the body to acclimatize.
Immune defenses increase. Doing sports in the open air not only allows the body to reoxygenate all the tissues. This brings considerable benefits to health and general well-being but also triggers biochemical mechanisms in the body, which bolsters the natural defenses. Thus results in greater resistance to seasonal illnesses.
The mood improves. In the winter, the mood tends to be darker and pessimistic. It is proven that the reduced number of hours of light negatively affects the mood. There is nothing better than little physical activity (preferably in a pleasant natural environment) to stimulate the production of serotonin and endorphins, the hormones of serenity.
Vitamin D levels are not lowered. This substance is essential for carrying out many metabolic processes: for example, it is used to absorb and fix calcium. It is vital for keeping the bones strong and healthy. The substance is synthesized (that is, made available) by the body thanks to the exposure of the skin to sunlight. This is why it is always good to favor outdoor training sessions.
The cardio-circulatory system is effectively stimulated by the cold because the heart is forced to pump more efficiently a sufficient quantity of blood to maintain constant body temperature.
High-level athletes often train in the cold. It is scientifically proven, for example, that the best temperature for running a marathon is six degrees Celsius because the heart works better.
Combating stress with exercise
Stress prevents you from moving forward and keeps you stuck on the same things. A negative state of mind makes you believe that you will never reach the goals you set for yourself and that you lack time to act. It is as if, during the day, you did not have enough time to reach and fulfill your goals.
Stress is perceived by the brain as a state of activation that prepares you to escape from a certain threat. The mind stops conceiving a calm and inner balance because there is a decompensation. You are always on alert, tense and your eyes focus only on what you have to do during the day.
Learn to enjoy what you do. It is known that there are plenty of techniques to combat stress. Nevertheless, there is a clear aspect: no one can leave their job or disconnect from their family. These are the two dimensions in that stress, tensions and anxieties are concentrated.
To reduce stress, you can practice breathing techniques, head to the gym or exercise at homes and follow the treatment prescribed by the doctor. However, the best treatment would be to focus mentally in such a way as to see reality from a different angle. It would, therefore, be a matter of learning to let go.
To view things in another way and to enjoy them, you need to loosen the rhythm. Therefore, it is essential to learn how to set priorities. Those who learn to let go can reach a positive emotional state of maximum concentration. One feels good with what one does and, in this way, one frees oneself from tensions and moves away from stress.
It is apparent that it will not be possible to flow from one day to the next, especially at work or if you suffer from tension. The ideal would be to start engaging in things that will help you achieve this state of calm. Once you have made it, you can apply it to other aspects of your life.
Pick a physical training routine, which you enjoy. People who paint, for example, quickly reach this state of calm and pleasure. Painting with watercolors, drawing with charcoal or mandalas is, without a doubt, therapeutic. The ideal would be to do it every day for at least an hour.
Another option that usually gives excellent results is to practice flow yoga. This variant was started in India, but it has been successful in the United States. Flow yoga is more physical and intense, incorporates natural sounds or mantras and develops strength, elasticity, and balance. It is energizing and is interrupted with a final relaxation that helps you to connect with your inner self.
Performing activities, such as yoga, painting mandalas, hitting the gym or practicing any other activity that you relax and allow you to concentrate on will help you. Apply this state of calm to other tasks you have to handle.
Walking: the best exercise for the body and mind
Walking is an exercise full of benefits. Just walk half an hour every day to improve your cardiovascular health and reduce stress. This form of physical activity does not cost anything, and it enriches your soul. It helps you free the mind and take care of your body. Few exercises are just as therapeutic and suitable for all ages.
According to the European Society of Cardiology, walking about 20 minutes every day helps you take care of your heart and to improve physical health in general. According to some studies, walking could help gain between three and seven years of life.
Simply pick a pair of comfortable shoes and a direction, which favors inhaling fresh air. It would be perfect, for example, going to the countryside or heading to green space.
You must never forget that the main enemies of your body are stress, routine and negative thoughts. Often, the simple act of doing the same things every day ends up automating the brain, and there is nothing more dangerous than a brain without stimulation and rest.
Get out walking, without pressure and obligations. Pick only with a bottle of water and the right clothing. This helps clear the mind, improving the health of neurons. Walking helps to revitalize thoughts and oxygenate the cells and, suddenly, life loses that sense of rigidity and allows you to be freer.
It also helps to re-establish a link with your emotional needs. You establish an inner liberating dialogue that relaxes many of the structures of our brain, thus regulating the neurochemistry associated with stress.
This form of physical activity makes you more creative and helps you find alternative solutions to your problems. Maybe it will seem awkward but an act as simple as changing scenario, setting the heart in motion and giving greater levels of oxygen to your brain free has considerable benefits.
Adjusting your cortisol levels is vital (too high levels cause stress, while a fair amount of cortisol promotes motivation and energy). Reorganizing the neurochemistry of your frontal cortex where your plans, ideas, and goals are located is one of the key benefits of physical exercise.
A simple activity, such as jogging or walking in the countryside gives you an opportunity to experience new sensations, smells, and visual stimuli. A more relaxed mind and surrounded by pleasant stimuli can create new and better ideas. Now you know you have to go out walking whenever you feel trapped or under pressure for a certain problem.
It is important to remember that the aim is not to run or walk fast. You can exercise at a pace that maximizes benefits. When you want to walk, keep a normal pace but without running. In this way, you will not get excessively tired. A moderated approach allows your heart to function optimally and improve circulation, including oxygenating the tissues of your body.
By improving blood pressure, you will also be able to regulate blood sugar levels. Walking also helps to keep the right body lost and to fight obesity. You will improve the health of your immune system and eliminate many of those toxins that make the body sick or cause classic water retention.
Take care of the bones
One of the most significant risks to the health of your bones is a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for eight to 12 hours every day because of your work triggers serious consequences that begin to accumulate and show various signs. These include stiffness of the joints, deficiency of muscle elasticity and the accumulation of fat, which implies an excessive load on the bones.
The same applies to the loss of strength and elasticity of cartilage. It is evident that if you suffer from back or knee problems, you can not sustain a long walk. In many cases, walk for 10 minutes on a treadmill, on a flat and secure surface.
In case you suffer from bone problems, you must respect your limits to avoid getting hurt. For this reason, instead of having to give up a healthy walk, you can consult a specialist to understand what is the most suitable walking way for you. Walking every day for about 20 minutes helps protect the body from loss of bone mass and decalcification.
Every time you walk in the open air, you absorb a substantial dose of vitamin D, which necessary to improve muscle coordination and reduce the risk of fracture. In addition to this and the fact that it is a therapeutic physical activity, walking helps the nutrients to reach all areas of the body more effectively thanks to the reactivation of the blood circulation.
Exercise protects you from neurodegenerative diseases
Most people know that practicing daily physical exercise is one of the best health habits. It is the most effective way to acquire muscle mass, strengthen joints and improve physical endurance in the face of certain activities.
It is also one of the principal means of combating obesity and preventing the development of cardiovascular diseases. Few people know that sport also directly affects brain health by improving cognitive functions and regulating certain emotions.
The increase in blood flow that occurs during physical activity is good for the brain. Thanks to this, oxygen is transported in adequate quantities, and the brain cells are activated to perform their functions.
The result is greater mental concentration and, as if this were not enough, new cells begin to form that improve memory and learning ability. The brain gets used to the increase in blood flow and in the long run, develops the ability to turn certain genes on and off. The new neurons stimulate memory in the hippocampus and protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
The deterioration related to age and cerebral hemorrhages is avoided. The exercises that activate most of the muscle groups are great therapy for people who suffer from anxiety. They stimulate the production of hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine, known for their calming effects on mental health.
By performing high and low-intensity physical activity, the production of some neurotransmitters associated with well-being is raised. This explains why many therapists recommend practicing daily exercise to be associated with treatment for depression. Everything indicates that its realization increases the levels of endorphins and serotonin, also called happiness hormones.
Fatigue caused by work is produced when oxygen does not optimally reach the brain and this obliges to make efforts to activate its functions. As exercise increases blood flow and oxygenation, practicing it regularly will reduce tiredness and weakness. Women with a sharply decreased libido can get wonderful benefits from practicing yoga, cardiovascular exercise or strength training.
These activities improve sexual desire, increase safety in intimacy and ensure proper blood flow. Also, exercise is beneficial, in particular, because it improves erectile function. Together with neurotransmitters that are good for the state of mind, regular physical activity strengthens and stimulates an area of the brain called the frontostriatal circuit which, the more it is strengthened, the higher self-esteem generated in people.
People who are stressed because of their work or family problems can relax incredibly thanks to at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. This therapeutic activity improves the physical ability to respond to stress by increasing norepinephrine in the brain. It has also been shown that it can reduce the levels of cortisol, hormone reported as responsible for this emotional state.
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