For many of us, the biggest challenge to getting physical activity is just putting our minds to it. We all know how easy it is to talk ourselves out of something – and exercise is no exception. There are tons of ways we can keep our bodies healthy and active, so it doesn’t need to be boring or painful. Stay positive, keep things interesting and put a system in place that will help you stick to your fitness plan. For those in the bleeding disorders community, staying in shape means healthier muscles and joints and therefore, fewer bleeds and factor. Additionally, exercise promotes a healthy weight, which takes pressure off the joints. Read on for some ideas to motivate you to get and stay in shape.
Make it routine. Build physical activity into your day like it’s your job, because in a way, it is! Figure out the time of day that works best for you to exercise, and set aside that time for you to do just that. If it becomes just another piece of your schedule every day, you won’t try to talk yourself out of it or let other engagements take its place. Getting daily activity and building fitness should be a high priority.
Set goals. Nobody likes to give up, so setting goals for yourself is a good way to ensure you stay focused on your day-to-day physical activity. Set challenging but achievable goals that you know you can accomplish. By working towards and meeting your goals, you are not only getting stronger, but you are building your confidence. Once this becomes routine, you can set higher goals, knowing that you will achieve them. When setting goals, make sure they are not only achievable but measurable, specific and time-bound.
Record your progress. Keep a training log to see how you are progressing toward your goal. Use a fitness tracker, calendar or notebook to record your daily activities. It’s a visual affirmation that you are working towards your goals and reminds you that you are making progress.
Need a place to record your progress? Download HFA’s Get in Gear App and track your fitness activities! The app records all types of activities, as well as duration and/or distance, calories burned, keep an ongoing history log of fitness activities and access information on bleeding disorders and health and wellness. Receive encouraging achievements as you reach important milestones.
Find a training partner. Having a training partner makes exercise more fun and easier to get motivated to get out the door. Knowing you have a “date” to meet someone, you’ll be less likely to make excuses. Invite friends and co-workers to work out with you. Or use your dog as a training partner – they will be more than happy to run around outside with you!
Make it fun. Exercise should be enjoyable, after all it takes place at a time when we are just focusing on ourselves and nothing else. Do the activities you love – whether it’s hiking or dance or swimming – and make sure that you are savoring this time you are taking out for yourself. If it starts to get monotonous, take music with you – it’ll make the experience more energetic and fun.
Reward yourself. After you finish a workout, take a few moments to savor that euphoric feeling that exercise gives you. The better you feel, the more often you will want to work out. This positive feedback loop is tremendously effective at keeping us in shape. For even more motivation, you can reward yourself with a non-food item, like a new pair of running shoes or a music album, after you’ve reached a goal.
Remember physical fitness is for life so don’t stress if you slip occasionally. The most important thing is that you get back on track as soon as you can, as long as your body is up to it. Your brain may make it seem like it’s more of a struggle than it really is, so take it one day at a time. If you have a bleed or joint pain, you can always do low intensity exercise, or activities that focus on mental health, like meditation. Stay focused, even with setbacks, and you can achieve any fitness goal you put your mind to.
*As with any new activity, or if you are having joint or bleeding problems, make sure you check with your physician to be sure you are ready to get started.
“Fitness: Tips for Staying Motivated.” Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20047624