Want to make your workout work for you? Here’s how.

Use a motivation cheat sheet

Exercise — we know it’s good for us. But just how good is it? The benefits are pretty impressive. For example, regular physical activity can help you:

  • Maintain your weight
  • Feel happier
  • Sleep better
  • Improve your memory
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol

Yet, even though we know exercise is great for us, sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation. Here’s a workout cheat sheet to keep you motivated.

Your workout cheat sheet
  • Doing something is much better than doing nothing. Even if it’s just a walk around the block.
  • Getting started is everything. Once you get warmed up, you’ll feel more motivated.
  • Find activities you really enjoy doing.
  • Mix it up. Cross-training improves your overall fitness and keeps motivation high. Doing the same activities over and over leads to burnout and can cause overuse injuries.
  • Consistency is key. Carve out time every day for exercise. The same time every day is even better. When it’s part of your regular schedule, you won’t make excuses for skipping a workout.
Tips to stay motivated

Be specific. Pick a goal that’s clear — one you can succeed at and easily measure. A vague goal, such as “I’m going to get more fit” doesn’t give you steps to follow, making it harder to achieve.

Find something you like. Seriously — or you won’t keep doing it. Physical activity should feel more like summer camp than boot camp (unless you like boot camp!).

Start small. Depending on your fitness level, that may mean taking the stairs more often or adding another mile to your usual running course.

Work out with a partner. When someone else is counting on you to show up, you’re more likely to hit the trail or the gym more consistently. Plus, a little friendly competition might be just what you need to stay motivated.

Make it a habit. The more regular you are about working out, the quicker it will become a habit. Don’t go more than two days in a row without exercising, and you’ll keep the habit going strong.

Do it for the T-shirt. Like the one you get for finishing a 5K or 10K. In other words, pick a goal you’ll feel great about reaching, and work on making it happen. You’ll have the shirt to prove it.

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