Having a hard time getting out of bed to get to the gym? Get over that. Missing a workout has implications. Just two weeks of inactivity can result in muscle loss and it will take you three times the amount of time to gain it back.
According to a Danish study published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, if you skip two weeks of working out, it’ll take six weeks to get you backto where you started. Cardiovascular fitness can decline even quicker.
Here are four ways to stay motivated and get to the gym according to Kellen Scantlebury, D.P.T., C.S.C.S, physical therapist and founder of Fit Club Physical Therapy & Sports Performance.
- Sign a contract: Some people are self-disciplined enough that when they make themselves a promise, they keep it. For others, that’s not always enough. Dr. Scantlebury said creating a contract with friends improves motivation. “We can lie to ourselves easily, but when we make a contract and sign it with our best friends, that’s a different story,” he said. You can even make it high stakes by attaching a cash penalty to breaking the plan.
- Rethinking positive thinking: We need to set ourselves up for success. When we think about how to get the workouts in, we should be thinking about the obstacles that may get in the way of achieving our goals and have pre-planned strategies to get around them. For example, if you know you are going to be pressed for time in the morning but still want to get that workout in, have your clothes and shoes ready and within reach. If you know you may not be able to make it home to change before a class, make sure to take your workout gear with you. Don’t leave room for excuses.
- Reward yourself: Who doesn’t love to treat themselves? By rewarding yourself for completing your goal, you start to create a neurological “habit loop” that will result in your brain craving reward after accomplishing a goal or task. If at the end of every week you have completed all your workouts, take yourself out for an acai bowl or grant yourself two hours of indulgent television. Eventually, your brain connects working out with a release of endorphins. According to journalist Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, “An extrinsic reward is so powerful because your brain can latch on to it and make the link that the behavior is worthwhile.” The routine eventually becomes habit.
- Make it social: Find people who enjoy the same activities you do. If you have people to run with or left weights with, you’re more likely to engage in that particular activity..
Long-Term Change is Needed for Better Health: Take the StrongPath
In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, age gracefully, and prevent (and even reverse) chronic disease, you must incorporate physical activity and strength training into your daily routine. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends people get at least 150 minutes of cardio and three sessions of strength training per week.
Increasingly sedentary lifestyles are at the root chronic disease. Inactivity can be linked to sarcopenia, frailty, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other chronic illnesses. Too many are ignoring the risks of being physically inactive.