The SparkPeople Blog

9 Little Tricks that Make Working Out A Lot Easier

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
9/7/2011 10:00 AM   :  79 comments   :  44,939 Views

I am not a morning person, but a few times a week, I make myself a morning exerciser. It's the only way I'm guaranteed to fit in my runs. A couple weeks ago, I was too darn tired to wake up early to run, so I decided I'd do it during the workday instead. I packed up my gym bag with my running clothes, then scrambled around the hall closet looking for travel size toiletries and a towel; packed a change of clothes (going over my mental checklist of underwear, socks, deodorant, oh yeah and a hairbrush), and headed to the office with a mental plan to run and shower during lunchtime.
 
I realized that by the time I packed up all my stuff, I could have been well into my run—or even finished a short workout (since 10 or 15 minutes of exercise is always better than none). And even with the best intentions—and a supportive work environment that encourages exercise—I never found the time to sneak away to run (let alone shower afterward). Before I knew it, my day was over, and my plans to exercise were foiled.
 
I enjoy exercising and make it part of my daily life—yet even I have trouble getting to it all the time. So I can only imagine how much harder it is for someone who doesn't like it and isn't quite in the habit. The whole scenario got me thinking about all the little things I do that have a big impact on my ability to stick with my exercise plans.
 
If you're having trouble sticking with an exercise routine, the most common excuses for skipping it revolve around lack of time, poor priorities, and motivation. These nine little things will help you tackle hurdles in all of those categories.
 
Keep your gym bag packed.
This is especially important if you exercise at the gym on your way to work or during your workday. Keep a checklist inside your bag of all the items you need to pack each day to prevent yourself from forgetting crucial items. Invest in a large gym bag with room for your clothes, and spend a little extra money to buy set of travel size toiletries that always remain inside your bag. A second hairdryer (or whatever other accessories you might need) could be worth the cost if it means "I forgot my hairdryer" will no longer be an exercise excuse for you to skip the gym over lunch.
 
Join a gym en route to work.
It's pretty hard to skip the gym when you have to drive by it on your way to work or your way home each day. For that reason, I've always joined whatever gym is literally on the way. Since time is an issue for me (isn't it for everyone?), it's way too easy to drive home rather than driving out of your way to a gym—especially if you're not that motivated. Joining a gym that is easy to get to is one of the best excuse busters around.
 
Give your goal a deadline.
Sign up for a race (like our Virtual 5K this fall!), and your motivation to stick with your training will stick around—I promise. Even if you're not a runner or a walker, you can sign up for other events or competitions in weight lifting, biking, Crossfit (for all you Crossfitters out there)—you name it. Or if a little competition doesn't do it for you, set a real date for your fitness goals and tell everyone you know about it. If you tell all your co-workers or family members that you're going to be able to do 100 pushups or 15 pull-ups by January, they'll keep you accountable.
 
Invest in your fitness.
If you're financially savvy and get a high from getting a bang for your buck, then buy some fitness-related items to keep you motivated and on-track. Purchase a 30-day pass to a yoga studio, some new workout clothes, a high-tech fitness device (more on that below), or a gym membership contract, then make sure you are getting the most for your money. Going to the gym just once a month may mean that each visit costs you $50—and that's not a good buy. (My father-in-law actually likes to joke about how much each of his gym visits cost him since he rarely goes.) Why not see how low you can bring your per-use cost down to by using it more often? Go five times a week and that brings it to just $2.50 a visit—talk about a good deal! Those $80 workout pants are pricey when you only wear them to bed, but wear them once a week to the gym for a year, and their per-use cost is about $1.50—a good buy!
 
Keep your equipment accessible and visible.
I like to keep my home clean and de-cluttered, but one thing I like to do on occasion is place small piece of fitness equipment in a visible place in my house. For a few weeks, it serves as reminder to use my equipment. When I first bought my kettlebell, I kept it in the living room. And every time I walked past it, I would do 10-20 kettlebell swings with it. Think about what else you could do: a pair of dumbbells in the hallway; a resistance band in your home office; and a stability ball in the family room could all be cues to drop and give yourself 5 minutes of exercise on the fly!
 
Become a morning exerciser.
Morning exercise works. Let me repeat that: Exercising in the morning is one of the best ways to stick to a routine. Even with the best intentions, life gets in the way of your desire to squeeze in a workout. Anyone—even you—can wake up 15 minutes earlier to squeeze in a 15-minute workout (especially when you sleep in your workout clothes).
 
Dress for the part.
It's hard to say no to a workout when you're dressed for the part. Whether you do it in the morning, during the day, or after work, make sure the first thing you do in preparation for your workout is get fully dressed for it. You'll feel those excuses melt away, especially if you're like me and won't lie down on a couch (or a bed) with shoes on, and/or don't like wearing shoes inside the house.
 
Make rewards fun and surprising—and let your friends help.
Self-imposed "rewards" have never worked for me. If I want something, I'll generally just get it and feel like I deserve it. Withholding my own money for a reward I want doesn't really motivate me to follow through with something. I figured that rewards would never be part of my health or fitness plan, but was glad to leave them to others for whom they do work. Then I saw a SparkPeople member blog about rewards that totally changed my perspective. The member gave several of her friends an "allowance" to buy her a surprise gift. Then she wouldn't receive/open the gift until she reached her next milestone (which was pounds-lost in this case, but could be anything really). Now this is a fun and exciting way to reward yourself if you have trouble sticking with a self-reward structure.
 
Get tech-y with it.
Certain fitness gadgets inspire people to move: a pedometer, the FitBit, the BodyBugg, even a heart rate monitor. Since these track your calorie burn, they can serve as inspiration to get moving more to up your burn. When I bought my Garmin Forerunner, it totally changed my attitude about running from something I did to something I loved—and I'm not even a gadget person. These external cues and reminders to move may be all you need to get off your rear.
 
What "little" things make it a lot easier for you to exercise? Do you use any of the small tricks above? How have they worked for you?





Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
 

NEXT ENTRY >   Order 'The SparkPeople Cookbook' Today!

Great Stories from around the Web

Comments

  • 79
    You know how you can tell that someone isn't a morning person? They don't have the energy to exercise in the morning!!! If I forced myself to exercise in the morning I would be getting such a good workout. The best time for ME to exercise is mid-day. What the writer of this article isn't understanding is that not everyone is just like her. Find the time of the day that you will have the energy and the time and that is when you should exercise!!! - 12/5/2013   7:52:18 PM
  • 78
    I lost 80 pounds so I started coaching my friends to lose weight which means I am forced to lead by example and keep the weight off to play the part because I can't ask them to do anything that I'm not already doing myself. - 9/18/2013   7:46:06 PM
  • 77
    re morning - if I actually had to exercise in the morning it would never happen. The author claims to not be a morning person but I really doubt it. I have built an exercise routine just find with only really being active in the afternoon and night and occasional noon. I strongly believe you have to find what works for you and not what works for others. I do like other suggestions (except I don't pass a gym on my way to work since I work in several different places so finding something close to home I can go to after work is much better for me). - 7/22/2013   11:46:08 AM
  • FIONAJESSE
    76
    The tips are quite easy and we can follow it easily with our daily activities. A small change can result us better health. - 4/23/2013   6:42:13 AM
  • 75
    I have a treadmill in my living room, so it is very easy to get on when I watch my favorite shows. - 3/22/2013   6:43:03 PM
  • NASCOZZ
    74
    I go to the gym on my way home from work. My gym bag is always packed.....except for today. I packed it, but forgot my workout clothes! I literally went to the store during my lunch and bought new gym clothes! No excuses allowed. - 3/11/2013   2:05:52 PM
  • 73
    Using the FitBit One has been a real eye-opener for me. Certain workdays are full of climbing stairs, and the FitBit One reflects this. Other weekend days that are mind-body exercise intensive show that step count is down. The FitBit One is easy to wear (IMHO) and totally simple to log. On my computer, just sit there while connected to the internet, and the device automatically collects the latest data. Now that's the kind of human interface that suits me! - 3/11/2013   7:05:40 AM
  • 72
    I go to the gym every day at lunch. It keeps me out of the mall, and away from the fast food. Plus, I pack my bag immediately after I take my dirty clothes out. That way its ready for the next day and I don't forget my underwear (most days :)). - 2/26/2013   8:23:55 AM
  • 71
    The heart rate monitor is a great motivator for me. Seeing the carlorie count increase as I go is great, but it's also helpful to know if I'm really pushing myself as hard as I could/should based on what my HR number is. Great article. - 2/19/2013   1:34:15 PM
  • GPSHIKERNBIKER
    70
    Morning workouts, clothes prepared the night before. - 1/9/2013   12:22:42 PM
  • 69
    I swim and I like to do it early in the morning. So when I am getting up and after breakfast when I am in the bathroom, I put my suit on and that means I am half way there. I usually just throw on some sweats and head out the door immediately after that and once I am in my swim suit and out the door, the swim is a already a done deal (as long as there is no problems with the pool, in that case I will head upstairs to the weight room, and I row for 30 minutes as it is pretty much a full body cardio and strength exercise as well. - 12/1/2012   2:32:12 AM
  • JSYWG170
    68
    Great ideas! - 11/17/2012   1:28:25 PM
  • INCH_BY_INCH
    67
    Mornings I'm usually up and going. My days start at 4:30 ish. I been trying to revamp my time to see if I can use the time more wisely. I think a person needs a certain amount of time for the brain to get all the other body parts to warm up let alone fire. I have a circle driveway so I been trying to do a lap or so around the driveway before leaving in the morning. I would like to get more walking going, but I haven't quite figured out how to keep my animals from following me. For now I do about a half mile, just along my property line with seven cats following close behind and a couple of dogs. Just when I think the coast is clear to take off, not long afterwards my parade is closely in step with me. I live on a county road so it makes me nervous to have them on my walks. I tried to pen them up but they are not always together at that moment. If I spend to much time looking for them I would never get any excercise in....so I do my best for now...maybe they will get sick of following me around. Here's to jumpstarts with pot holes in the best laid plans. - 4/6/2012   10:24:00 AM
  • MYLILCUTIE3
    66
    This article was great! - 4/3/2012   11:18:45 AM
  • 65
    I keep my dumbbells and stability ball in my living room. My husband actually uses it as a foot stool when I am not using it.
    Also I just bought a heart rate monitor and I kind of like it. I have a range of calories 350-400 I have to burn during my run so I keep going for 5 miles till I reach that lovely 400 number :) - 3/7/2012   8:59:48 AM
  • SHELTERED1
    64
    I too am a morning person, and have mornings I just can't get it into gear. Thanks for the motivation. I'm going to try your suggestions. - 2/21/2012   1:17:37 PM
  • 63
    Thanks, Nicole! Great focus ideas! Because of life/family situation, it is best for me to workout after work each day. To ensure that I DO it, I keep my workout clothes and shoes at the end of the bed so that when I get home I throw them on first thing. I don't stop to do anything else first. I also keep whatever else I need handy. My family now expects me to workout first when arriving home. Since Dec. 30, this has worked well for me. I also set up a rewards system and was able to purchase new running shoes after reaching a goal. I'm scheduled to run my first 5K this spring. - 1/30/2012   5:34:29 PM
  • 62
    A wonderful blog, Coach! Honest, and packed with excellent tips, too! - 11/23/2011   10:57:21 AM
  • ANNIEBOO78
    61
    There are two things that keep me motivated: snacks and a trainer!
    If I miss my morning workout and need to go to the gym after work I MUST eat a good afternoon snack! Celery and peanut butter or carrots and hummus are great for me - definitely curb the afternoon hunger. If I'm too hungry after work that's a great excuse for me to go home for dinner instead of going to the gym. Plus, when I'm hungry I usually eat too much for dinner and end up too full to move!
    I also invested in time with a trainer at my gym! I chose a cheaper gym so I could afford some one-on-one time with a trainer, and it's been great! I've had to give up some other things to make room in my budget, but it's been SO worth it to have someone teaching me and holding me accountable each week! - 9/15/2011   12:18:35 AM
  • 60
    I like the idea of getting other people to help you with the reward thing. I haven't been able to find a balance there. On the one hand, if it's something that I need, it's hard to justify not getting it then and being done with it. If it's not something I need, it's hard to justify spending the money on it.

    I think the biggest trick I used that you didn't mention was that I try to keep a back up plan. So, for example, if I plan to go for a bike ride but the weather is terrible, I don't just sit on my couch and think, "well, that's a bust." I think, "well, that's a bummer, but I can go to the gym, or I will put in this video that I wanted to try, or whatever." - 9/15/2011   12:15:47 AM
  • WICKLOWHILLS
    59
    Early workout - before my brain can come up with an excuse. That's a great idea. 15 mins won't kill me... it'll be great start to the day. You're also very right about having equipment to hand. Packing everything away means 'out of sight, out of mind'. Thanks for the tips. - 9/13/2011   3:53:34 PM
  • 58
    I am not a morning person but for about the last 20 months or so I have made a concerted effort to get up early and exercise. I started off by swimming once or twice a week and have now moved onto 3 sessions in the gym before work. I am also not too keen on exercise but combining the two has really worked for me. I have recently started a programme called Couch to 5k. It's a series of podcasts that take you through a 9 week programme to get you not running at all to running up to 5k or for 30 minutes. I've just started week 2....so far, so good. Healthy eating also going well and have finally got my weight below 11 stone (154lbs) and don't plan to go above it again!! - 9/12/2011   4:29:13 PM
  • 57
    Got my 6:15am Bootcamp in this morning and I have a 7:00am Zumba class tomorrow. Yea, me !!! - 9/12/2011   1:53:04 PM
  • 56
    Thank you for sharing, I am going to try and put these good tips to work!! - 9/12/2011   2:08:53 AM
  • KATIEMAC317
    55
    Great ideas! - 9/11/2011   11:28:27 PM
  • 54
    Great blog. These tips are very helpful and easy. - 9/11/2011   5:37:09 PM
  • 53
    I just can't work out or run first thing in the morning. Just isn't gonna happen. My mind wakes up long before my body can get moving much less able to lift any weights. Even if start my workout around 9:00 on the weekends, my whole morning is shot. I'm too tired for the rest of the day to get any chores done. I have to start on my chores and work around the house first before I can work out or THAT just doesn't get done. My momentum to start on the chores starts early in the day. I can go so many hours at that and then I'm ready to stop and my desire to get out and exercise kicks in. Then I do my run or workout, take a shower and make dinner. This way I can work up an appetite, eat dinner and can sleep well from the fatigue of the run or workout.

    I always keep my gym bag packed and ready to go.
    I have a gym on my way home from work. Nice!
    At home, I keep gym equipment in sight and easily accessible.
    I've bought new workout clothes recently and am still shopping and liking my new wardrobe!
    Have my Garmin 305 Forerunning and iPod with me on every run! Love it! - 9/11/2011   11:24:15 AM
  • HUSTONJP
    52
    I pack a gym bag full of my bike equipment (helmet, clothes, shoes, gloves) and store my bike in the mini-van so I can hit the rail trail immediately after work during the week. This works well when I only have an hour to ride at the end of the work day. If I go home first, there are too many excuses not to ride. - 9/11/2011   10:29:43 AM
  • 51
    Thank you for sharing some terrific ideas! Excellent blog! - 9/11/2011   5:11:08 AM
  • 50
    As usual, I seem to go against the tide. Morning workouts just don't work for me. I start my day with my family, and getting ready for the rest of the day. My workouts in the evening, though, are my time. I lose the stress of the day, I get physically tired for sleep, I end the day with a great sense of accomplishment and strength. - 9/10/2011   8:14:41 PM
  • 49
    I noticed that I get more out of my workouts in the mornings as well. If I try to put it off until the afternoon or later, I slowly become less interested in doing it. - 9/9/2011   8:44:44 PM
  • 48
    Great blog, I have to force myself to become a morning excerciser with no excuses - 9/9/2011   7:23:29 PM
  • 47
    Great Blog. Thx! - 9/9/2011   2:13:25 PM
  • 1CRAZYDOG
    46
    Here I thought I was an "oddball" because I do some of my exercises in the morning when I get up (5:30 am) and the house is still not in "hustle and bustle" mode. To do that, I sleep in my work out clothes! LOL I thought I was the only one in the universe who did that. THANK YOU! It really does help. So does it help that I keep my weights @ my bedside, so they're in my face! - 9/9/2011   10:28:38 AM
  • KAYAKGIRL1108
    45
    Great blog!!! I have found if I don't work out as soon as I wake up I don't find the time later. I go to bed in my workout clothes and head to the gym as soon as I wake up. - 9/9/2011   8:44:39 AM
  • CASANDRAQ01
    44
    I have a gym bag packed, now I just need to take it to my car and go. What do you do when you work early in the morning or the middle of the night? - 9/9/2011   5:17:39 AM
  • 43
    Good read! - 9/8/2011   11:51:40 PM
  • VANANDEL
    42
    I'm not a gadget person, but I got a Garmin 705 for my bike and I love it! It's so incredibly motivating and having a record of all my rides is wonderful. On Sunday I have a Century (100 miles), so today's ride was short, but intense. I did intervals and my GPS let's me view my heart rate during the intervals and see how much time has elapsed before I can rest. - 9/8/2011   11:19:17 PM
  • 41
    I am SO not a morning person. In fact, my husband jokes that I need my caffeine in an IV. I can easily fall asleep again after my alarm goes off, and I have passed this trait on to our daughter, much to my husband's annoyance. He can just open his eyes, turn on his lamp, and start reading a book without even getting out of bed, first thing in the morning, and he doesn't understand why everyone else is not like him... I used to make lots of plans to get up earlier in the morning, but none of them worked. They just never seemed very compelling compared to getting a few extra minutes of sleep, UNTIL I discovered bicycle commuting. I started on May 20, 2011, and I love it so much that after one day I was hooked. I now bike to work 4-5 days a week. I love getting out in the sunshine -- except this week: thanks, Tropical Storm Lee :( Biking to work makes my whole day better, and I get two hours of exercise while commuting. My route takes me about 6 miles on a beautiful multi-use (former railroad) trail, and then past some of the most iconic landmarks in Washington D.C. (see one of my recent blogs -- with photos). I sometimes joke that I only go to work so I can ride my bike and get a paycheck. (It's only a joke. My job is not so fun right now, but I still give it all I've got. ) Not even 95+ F weather can keep me from it: only thunderstorms.

    I have definitely invested in clothing and equipment for biking, but for practical reasons. I go through a lot of clothes exercising every day. Other than that, I don't need any rewards, because the activity itself is so intrinsically rewarding.

    And now I'm finally losing weight too. WooHoo! - 9/8/2011   10:38:20 PM
  • 40
    like the CHEESY as hell Participaction commercial used to say (I am sure Cheryl knows the one I mean) "Don't just think about it do it ,do it , DO IT .......!" - 9/8/2011   10:11:33 PM
  • NEVERGIVEUP68
    39
    I am definitely not a morning person, but I was forcing myself to walk outside every morning last month and i felt so good. This month i havn't done it yet becouse i am not feeling well. - 9/8/2011   9:12:56 PM
  • AMBER461
    38
    This blog is great. I am an early riser I wake about 4.30 a.m., get dress and go walking at 5.a.m. I don't have any way to store equipment but I have my resistance bands, a jump rope and a set of dumbells, plus I have some exercising DVDs which I use every other day. - 9/8/2011   9:08:41 PM
  • 37
    Morning workouts are the best for me --- the day is fresh, people are positive and upbeat, all the equipment is newly clean! The best part - watching the stars dwinde to dawn... - 9/8/2011   9:00:54 PM
  • 36
    I am definitely not a morning person, but I was forcing myself to the pool, 3 x a week, in the morning. I have stopped due to terrible joint problems. Once I have my knees replaced, back to the pool, for me. Now, I ride my bike, late afternoon. - 9/8/2011   7:59:43 PM
  • RUNESHADOW
    35
    I stick with morning exercise and despite recent advice that one should eat before exercising, I can't do it. My "trick" is laying out my yoga mat before I go to bed (Sorry, Nicole, I am not sleeping in my leotard and leggings) so I have to walk over it as I do my first morning tasks. I have to be in a TON of pain to roll up the mat without at least doing my basic physical therapy exercises, and usually complete at least a 30-minute routine. Then shower & breakfast. I also keep my exercise log near the workout space because it encourages me to see all the nice entries of start and stop times, even though I track online later in the day. I use a simple wirebound notebook, with two vertical columns for two months per page, logging date, start and stop times, minutes, crunches.

    My daughter did really well when she joined a gym near her job years ago. It dismayed her after she had a baby and could no longer fit those workouts in her day, working full time.

    My other trick is getting off the city bus a stop or two before my destination, if I am not in too much pain, so I get in a nice brisk walk, cane and all. I WANT to walk more, so it is hard to restrain myself when the pain is bad. I am on the go 7 days a week and constantly on and off buses. - 9/8/2011   6:17:12 PM
  • 34
    I LOVE my gym!!!
    But you've just inspired me to wake up early from here on.....and work out daily beginning in the early morning...what a great way to start the day.
    I am going to "Just Do It"...as the saying goes.Thanks! - 9/8/2011   5:55:51 PM
  • 33
    Lots of good suggestions in the article. What has worked for me: joining a Y that is close and setting goals. The Y had a competition in the spring to "Rev up" your exercise minutes/calories. Since March, I have logged 1000 minutes each month. I joined the virtual 5K and my daughter and I ran that in April. I used the SparkPeople guide for training for a 10K and completed that on Saturday. My next goal is the end of the month when our family will ride in a 75 mile bike ride to raise funds for MS. Thank you Nicole and other staff for your input in helping me reach these goals!!!! - 9/8/2011   5:12:11 PM
  • 32
    I am a morning person big time but I can't say that I am motivated to work out in the mornings BUT, I make myself do it and afterwards I am so glad that I did! There are soooo many things that can come up during the day to prevent you from working out. I find that when I do it in the mornings it's outta the way, I feel good both mentally and physically and if I can I add another workout later in the day. If I don't get to workout in the evening I don't feel bad because I got a workout in early in the morning. If you start doing it, it will become a habit and you will keep at it without a problem! The morning workouts are really a GREAT thing! - 9/8/2011   2:40:23 PM
  • 31
    Except for the morning work-out I loved the rest of these tips. I always keep my gym bag packed and ready at all times. Immediately after cleaning up I repack it and either stick it in my car or in the living room so I see it the next morning to put it in my car. My company has a great gym and I am near several military bases so I don't have to join a gym which is great. I also updated my old MP3 for a new IPOD Nano which is really cool because it has the Nike+ system which records my cardio work-outs when I plug it into my computer. - 9/8/2011   12:43:32 PM
  • 30
    Getting up and getting it over with! I'm NOT a morning person, but I AM a morning exerciser, at least for what I call my "major" activity - like running, cross training, etc. Also, I find that doing something EVERY DAY helps a lot. It just becomes routine that way. Last week I started to go out for a run, but it started to lightning and thunder, so I went back inside. Instead of going back to bed, I decided to to something else (an aerobics video). - 9/8/2011   12:27:20 PM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Join SparkPeople.com

Sign up for a FREE SparkPeople account