10 Mind Games To Help You Stay Fit
Playing mind games with someone usually has a negative outcome. However, when you’re playing mind games on yourself to stay motivated and stick with your workout routine, the outcome is usually pretty good! Try these 10 mind games to create and stick with your healthy habits:
1. Exercise beyond the gym. All movement is exercise. If you don’t count something as exercise unless it happens in the gym, you’re missing some of your best opportunities to stay active. Give yourself more options, such as take the dog for a walk, bike to the store, take five-minute stretch breaks, etc.
2. Creativity matters. This advice can be hardest for people who expect the most from themselves. Why bother walking around the block when you should be running your usual four miles? When you don’t have time to do all four miles, a brisk hike can keep you from feeling that you’ve failed to sneak in some exercise.
3. Set a goal. Increase the speed, frequency or duration of your activity. Maybe it’s time to train for a marathon or hike the neighborhood hill without getting winded? Be realistic when setting your goals and identify things that can be easily measured.
4. Try something different. Have you ever tried snow boarding, bowling or yoga? What about swing dancing, body surfing or tai chi? If you’re not feeling that adventurous, try reversing your regular walk route or exercising at a different time of day. Physical activity itself isn’t boring but how you participate in it can be.
5. Fool the brain. If you’re new to exercise, try some diversionary tactics, such as listening to music, watching TV or playing computer games to take your mind off the activity. However, make sure that you’re aware of sensations that could signal injury or that you’re overdoing it. As you become more experienced and comfortable with an activity, try things that are related to it such as focusing on your breathing or concentrating on the movement. This also can help you become better at the activity.
6. Find a mentor. Get a friend, workout buddy, mentor or coach to keep you honest and motivated. You can either exercise with your buddy, or simply check in with him or her to report your progress.
7. Use work as a workout challenge. Park farther from the office and put your walking shoes in the car the night before. Plan to take that new yoga class next week, and call the babysitter now. Take a longer lunch and walk or run before you eat. To get your boss’s approval, explain how exercise increases morale, lowers stress and gives you more energy during the day, all leading to increased productivity and profits (cha-ching!).
8. Face your challenges. Does vacation throw your exercise schedule out of whack? Do projects at work overtake your activity time? Do injuries sideline you? Fitness foes can be beaten once they’ve been identified. You can change your vacation style, set limits at work or incorporate exercise into your work day and get information about injury-free activities.
9. Be sociable. Choose places and times to exercise where there will be other people who are actively involved in exercise.
10. Follow a script. Use images of past successful experiences to remind yourself of how good exercise makes you feel. Or repeat a simple phrase to yourself, such as, “Every little bit makes a big difference” or “Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch.”
If you do some planning and use your imagination, you can trick your mind into sticking with your exercise routine.