It's hard to get in the mood to exercise when the couch is calling your name just a couple of feet away. And once you take out your phone to pull up a workout video, it may only be a matter of seconds before you're clearing your email inbox or sucked into the TikTok void. Who needs exercise, anyway?
Well, we all do in some shape or form. Maintaining roughly 30 minutes of physical activity every day (and possibly double if you sit all day at work) is one of the most important things you can do for your health, alongside sleeping and keeping a balanced diet. Regular exercise can help ward off illnesses, keep you from developing chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease, and simultaneously help boost your mood and sense of well-being.
But gyms cost money, and finding the motivation to exercise in the same space where you eat, sleep and relax can be tough. To rethink the way you work out at home, some simple tweaks or additions may be necessary to make your routine more enjoyable -- something you'll want to come back to again and again, sans distractions.
Here are some quick and easy tips for keeping you off the couch and on your living room floor working out.
1. Leave your favorite exercise equipment in plain sight
Rolling out my stained, turquoise yoga mat has conditioned my brain into knowing when it's "time to exercise." To keep it a priority, I keep it in plain sight, underneath my table. The second it's flat and ready for action, I have to start the routine.
Because time is of the essence to ride the motivational wave once you get the inkling to start exercising, it's important to make the most of it with exercise gear that you'll actually use -- and that you actually enjoy using. For me, that's an ab roller and an old pair of boxing gloves. I'll pull them out just in case I feel like throwing them into the exercise routine mix. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't, but there really is something to having something in sight, in mind.
Another tip: Don't bother with equipment you don't like using. I don't enjoy lifting weights or running on a treadmill, so I don't even bother trying to incorporate that into my home exercise routine. Keeping things fresh and pleasant is key to a balanced, active life even if you're only being active for a few minutes at a time.
2. Get dressed for sweat-cess
This is a pretty simple one, but once you commit to any number of exercise minutes, put on your gym clothes or whatever your "exercise gear" is. Some surveys of gym-goers have suggested that simply slipping into workout gear can provide the motivation sometimes needed to get you working up a sweat.
To ride this wave, get moving right after changing into your workout clothes. Try not to lay around, take a phone call, start sorting through your clothes or start any other activity that isn't exercise. Doing so may feed a sense of procrastination and erode the careful balance that has to be managed in the home-space-as-exercise-space.
How soon you change out of your workout clothes after you're done, however, is up to you. We won't judge.
3. Set the mood
While candles have been the subject of debate in terms of how healthy their fumes are, few things have been as available and effective as setting the mood of a room. (To be safe, consider lighting a candle in a well-ventilated room or trimming the wick, per Healthline.) If you're settling into a yoga routine, a Pilates workout or anything else you'd like to spice up with the right ambiance, lighting a candle before your exercise routine -- or as a cool-down reward -- can really change the energy of the room.
Another mood-altering tactic is to curate specific music playlists for your workouts. Choose playlists you know pump you up, or alter your headspace to be in tune with your body, then let loose. Being choosy about your tunes can also be helpful for sleep.
4. Listen to a podcast or a dialogue-heavy TV show
I am a movie snob and dialogue addict. So when I'm totally not in the mood for exercise, or any of the "mindfulness" or "present" elements it can bring, I turn on a favorite podcast or sitcom with constant and easy-to-follow dialogue to get me through the workout. While some have wagged their finger against watching TV during exercise (and the opportunities for injuries it could invite), listening to a show could bring you enjoyment and make the workout experience generally more pleasant.
For this reason, I am extremely specific about which TV shows or podcasts I play: I won't put on any part of a movie I haven't already seen or a show I am really looking forward to watching. I'll steer clear of anything that will pull my eyeballs away from the task at hand. Stream of wit and word is key. Apple has also tapped into people with this preference, with the company's Time to Walk series.
5. Remember 'done is better than perfect'
Sometimes you can do everything to set up your exercise space and get in the headspace for a workout, and your body or mind simply won't comply. That's OK. Repeatedly disparaging yourself will bring a negative connection to your workout space/home. Even 10 minutes of stretching, or a five-minute living room jumping jack session, works your muscles and increases your heart rate. Your body will thank you for this effort, and you'll always have another opportunity tomorrow or next week.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.