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How to Stay Motivated Exercising at Home

Is COVID-fatigue bringing on exercise-fatigue? Is your gym not able to open yet due to restrictions in your area or have you recently been informed that it will shut its doors yet again? Is it starting to get too cold to be outside? Well, we know life in general hasn’t been easy over the past several months, but keeping your distance and staying at home is still the safest thing you can do. To help chip away at the cabin fever you might be feeling, here are some practical and fun ideas for staying motivated to remain at home and either start -- or keep -- exercising.

10 Tips to Stay Motivated and Workout at Home

We get it. It’s not easy to stay motivated while working out at home -- especially if you live by yourself. While it’s certainly tempting to cozy up on the couch and binge your favorite Netflix series rather than hit the mat for that dreaded workout routine, don’t throw in the motivational towel just yet. Below are 10 tips or tricks to try that will hopefully make it much easier (and more exciting!) for you to exercise without stepping foot outside your house.

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  1. Make a plan.

The first thing to do when trying to stay more motivated is to create a clear plan with milestones for the coming weeks and months. Focus on actionable, small goals like “I want to work out five days a week” instead of dwelling on the big picture like “I want to lose 50 pounds.” While a variety of exercises like stretching, cardio, and strength training works best, every “body” is different. Make it a point to check in with your plan from time to time to make sure you’re staying the course.

  1. Create a dedicated space.

If possible, try to find a room or safe area in your home to do your workout without risking injury, and make sure it’s also a spot you actually enjoy being in! While you certainly don’t need to go crazy and buy the latest, fanciest home exercise equipment to create your own personal gym, having one room solely for working out can make exercising more of a reality and less of a chore. If you don’t have the space for an entire room, even something as simple as the corner of your living room where you keep some free weights and a treadmill can be just as effective.

  1. Schedule your routine.

Think about how many days you want or need to work out and physically schedule these dates on your calendar -- just like you would a doctor’s visit or dentist appointment. It might seem pointless and unnecessary at first, but when you plan your workouts ahead of time, you are essentially moving them from the “optional” category to the “must-do” category. Make sure to leave a day or two open as a buffer in case something unexpected comes up and you need to reschedule your workout that day.

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  1. Keep a workout log.

Whether it’s a file in your phone’s Notes app or a physical book, tracking body fat percentage and measurements like weight as well as the progress you make after every workout will keep you motivated more than analyzing yourself in the mirror every morning will. Being able to see on the screen -- or in print -- that your hard work is paying off can be exactly what you need to stick to your workout routine.

  1. Find a partner or community.

Just because you’re not going to the gym doesn’t mean you’re in this alone. Whether it’s an online community, a close friend or relative, or a few people you invite into your home (safely, of course!) every week or even once a month to exercise, finding real-life support and friendly competition can be a huge motivational boost. You might also consider meeting other fitness-oriented people on social media or organizing a group workout on Zoom -- whatever it takes to motivate you to keep exercising regularly.

  1. Turn your workout into a game.

If you find your workouts are getting dull and repetitive and you’re often lacking the motivation to do them at all, why not turn exercise into a game? Boasting more than 200 missions and 1 million participants, Zombies, Run! is just one popular downloadable fitness game. This app turns what would otherwise be a boring run into a survival adventure as you collect supplies to dodge zombies, build a town, and explore with each mile you run. Zombies not your thing? Try RockMyRun, an app designed for music lovers that plays music with tempos based on your steps per minute or heart rate. Check out some of these other fun at-home activities that are more like a game than a workout!

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  1. Set (realistic) goals.

You must create goals for yourself, especially if you are working out without anyone to push you. Your goals can be large or small -- whatever works for you. For example, you might have a goal of doing 10 pushups in a row without putting your knees to the floor or a goal of holding a squat for 30 seconds. Signing up for some type of event or race -- if done with proper precautions, of course -- can also be an excellent goal and motivator. Whatever you choose, make sure you are working toward something tangible instead of simply exercising just because you should.

  1. Reward yourself.

No, we don’t mean that you should grab a Snickers every time you successfully complete a workout, but rewarding yourself with something tangible when you accomplish your goals can be a wonderful motivator. This could be a new piece of exercise equipment for your home, a nice dinner out with your significant other, or that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing. The important thing is to make sure that you really, really want that reward so that you are truly motivated. In other words, that kale smoothie is probably not going to cut it.

  1. Switch up your routine.

It goes without saying that doing the same workout day in and day out will get pretty boring pretty fast, particularly because your body adapts to repetitions. When you switch things up, you’ll be more likely to stick to your regimen and thus avoid mental boredom. To make your workout routines more interesting and less monotonous, try to spice things up by setting up stations with kettlebells, exercise bands, jump ropes, and weights. Get outdoors on nice days and go for a run or walk laps around your yard and home. Run up and down your stairs in between your weightlifting sessions. When you find your body is sore at the end of the week, try Zumba, Pilates, or Yoga as a reward.

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  1. Get new workout clothes.

If you’ve been living in your yoga pants (and you’re definitely not the only one!), try to set aside a good pair of leggings just for when you exercise. Sure, you won’t be heading to the gym, but you’ll want to have your gym shoes and clothes within reach. Some studies have found that what you wear during your workout can have a direct impact on your performance -- a psychological phenomenon known as enclothed cognition*. Plus, buying a new workout outfit, leggings, or sports bra can be an awesome treat or reward when you meet your fitness goals!

While the country is still finding ways to navigate a “new normal” amid the coronavirus pandemic, you might be finding it hard to stick to your regular workout routine -- or even feel motivated to exercise at all. However, engaging in routine physical activity on a regular basis will not only benefit your physical health in the long run but also help to take away some of the stress and anxiety you might be experiencing. Sure, working out can be hard and downright miserable at times, but Stephen Hawking says it best: “half the battle is just showing up.” Let's get going and get there!

exercise at home yoga outfit

enclothed cognition: a term that relates to the effect which clothing has upon a person’s mental process and the way they think, feel, and function, in areas like attention, confidence, or abstract thinking.

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