Tips to Stay Motivated With Your Fitness Routine
The coronavirus may interrupt your normal workout regimen. These tips can help you stay the course at home.
You know exercise can ease your pain, fatigue and stiffness, so you start working out. But if you’re like half of those who start an exercise regimen, you’ll stop within six months. Gym closures due to the coronavirus may also throw a wrench into your normal fitness routine. The following tips can help you stick to an exercise plan no matter what the circumstance.
Picture the reward. Thinking about the health benefits of exercise, such as less joint pain and more energy, can serve as inspiration. Research shows that visualization can work, so imagine hiking your favorite trail or picking up your grandchild ache-free.
Set a realistic goal. Break goals down into small steps, says Linda Li, PhD, senior scientist of clinical epidemiology at Arthritis Research Canada. The key is being specific. For example, if your goal is to walk at least three times a week, write down what days and when you’ll go. Every 10 days to two weeks, re-evaluate that goal, says Li. If you realize it’s not working or you’re getting bored, switch it up. You may need to try a new workout or change the time you head out.
Track your workouts. Seeing your progress in print can serve as motivation. Log your workouts in a notebook or use a fitness tracker. One study found wearing a tracker increased people’s activity by 17%. Recording your arthritis symptoms can also help you recognize triggers and causes of pain, adds Li. (One to try: the Arthritis Foundation’s Track + React, arthritis.org/ATtrackandreact.)
Make working out fun. Whether it’s tennis or tai chi, choose an exercise you enjoy. Working out with a buddy or group also makes it fun and helps hold you accountable to stay on track. A 2018 review found that those who walked with others were more likely to keep it up compared to those who strolled solo. The coronavirus outbreak may hinder the buddy system, but many studios offer live streaming or online classes. Set up virtual workout dates with friends to help keep yourself accountable.
Use social media. A 2019 study in Computers in Human Behavior found that seeing Facebook posts about exercise can boost your motivation. Consider joining or starting a workout group. And create friendly competition: Research shows that it can get you moving.
Add strength training. A study published in 2018 found that older adults who did resistance training twice a week improved their exercise motivation after six months. Strength training also builds muscles that support joints.
Exercise is not only important for your physical health, but also for your mental health during tough times. Check out the YES tool to help you get started on with a arthritis-friendly exercise program.
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