4 Ways To Trick Yourself Into Exercising, Even If You Hate It
These days, Americans sit for 13 to 15 hours per day.
Does this resonate with you?
I’m the kind of person who really struggles with exercise. I’ve never been a gym person; fitness machines intimidate me, and I also just find them extremely boring. Pre-COVID, I relied heavily on exercise classes like pilates, barre, and hot yoga to keep me motivated. Without the encouragement of an IRL instructor, or the comradery of my peers, I’ve found keeping up with an exercise routine especially difficult this year.
Now, as winter sets in and pandemic-related lockdowns loom, it’s incredibly easy to spend most of the day on the couch. Not to mention, quarantine has only made the ‘excessive sitting’ problem in our culture worse. According to Mayo Clinic, 90% of the world’s population lived in agricultural communities just 200 years ago, when people sat for just three to five hours per day simply to take breaks from physical work. Today, “modern Americans sit for 13 to 15 hours per day.” Does this resonate with you?
COVID-19 has eliminated even small physical activity from our daily lives; commutes to work, school and social events are no longer part of the routine. But staying active is key to maintaining both mental and physical health, especially during this challenging time. With this in mind, here are some easy ways to keep your body active from home, even if you hate fitness.
1. Schedule Movement Into Your Day
Last month, I got a massage to help with a consistent kink in my neck and shoulder. The muscles were strained from spending so much time at my desk, yes, but my massage therapist also pointed out that it could also be due to a lack of movement in those muscles. After working out the knots, she sent me home with a prescription of daily stretches and ideas for daily simple exercises to do, and, I must say, I’ve noticed a drastic improvement.
She reminded me that you don’t necessarily need to work out to keep your body moving. If you’re sitting down for much of your day, it’s key for your health and energy levels to get your blood flowing, your muscles stretching, and your heart rate up throughout the day.
Some easy ways to do this are:
- Set a timer on your phone to get up every hour and stretch your legs, arms, neck, and shoulders.
- Do simple exercises periodically during your workday such as jumping jacks, wall sits, planks, etc.
- Go for a morning, lunchtime, and/or after-work walk, even if it’s just down your street and back.
- Download an app to send you small exercise reminders, such as the free one called Move.
- Consider standing as you work: put your laptop on the counter for a meeting, type at your bookshelf, etc. Trust me, even half an hour a day can make a difference.
2. Try Some New Props
If you’ve resisted an upgrade from using cans as weights, now may be the time. Switching up your equipment, even if just a little bit (we don’t recommend overdoing it just for the sake of buying new things), could help motivate you. Introducing new props into your exercise routine can help you feel more like you’re at a real gym, too.
Items to try out:
- Resistance bands — to improve flexibility and joint mobility.
- Weights — for strength building, obvi.
- A thick yoga mat — to save your knees and muffle noise.
- Wireless headphones — so you can blast music without bugging your roommates.
3. Have Fun With It
The best part of exercising at home is that you can make a fool of yourself without anyone watching. Plus it’s fun! This is your chance to keep it light; after all, moving your body doesn’t need to be a serious endeavor. In fact, the more fun you make your workouts, the more likely you are to make a habit of doing them.
Might I suggest:
- Get your sweat on with a quick, no equipment dance workout such as this 15-minute video with a 2000s throwback soundtrack.
- Try something new from the comfort of your living room, like boxing or HIIT (high-intensity interval training).
- Use what you have to get that blood flowing: try a few trips up and down the stairs, jog or skip on the spot if you don’t have spare time to head outdoors, etc.
4. Join A Virtual Class
If you’re struggling to stay motivated with exercise, you could try live virtual classes through your local fitness studio, if they are offering them. This is a great way to support a business in your community and also stay accountable to a schedule. Another option is to follow fitness YouTubers or Instagram content creators and turn on post notifications. This way, you could feel inspired to challenge yourself with their newest workout on the same day they come out, for example.
I really enjoy saving videos with the “playlists” feature on YouTube. This way, I can bookmark exercise videos that I either want to try out or save those that I’ve liked and might want to watch again. I also like to ask friends for recommendations and add their favorites to my playlists, too. This way, whenever the mood strikes to move my body, I have easy access to a bunch of vetted options.
What’s inspiring you to move these days? Do you have any tips and tricks that could help out the community? Let us know in the comments!
Ashley is a freelance writer and on-going contributor at TFD based in Toronto. An avid traveler, she recently returned home to Canada after two years living abroad in Vietnam and Japan. She loves to read, try new things in the kitchen, and get outside. You can learn more about her work here and can follow her adventures on Instagram @ashley_corb.
Image via Unsplash