Daily Dose

Six ways to trick yourself into exercising

With the harsher than usual winter, you may be having a harder time motivating yourself to exercise. Glamour magazine in its February issue recommends a few ways to trick yourself into doing a workout when you’re just not in the mood. Your challenge this week is to try one of these mind games to get moving.

1. Promise yourself that your workout only needs to last for seven minutes. It takes about six minutes of moderate activity for your brain to feel that first rush of mood-elevating hormones; once you feel a little boost in your mood, you’ll likely want to exercise for a little longer, Wayne Westcott, a Quincy College fitness instructor told Glamour. Even if you stop the workout after seven minutes, it’s better than not working out at all.

2. Remember it’s a great antidepressant to ward off the seasonal blues. Research suggests that burning 350 calories, three days a week, can help ward off depression. Here are four ways to use exercise to boost brain power.

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3. Listen to a few songs on your workout playlist before exercising. It will likely trigger a kind of Pavlovian response in your brain, according to fitness experts quoted in Glamour. You will associate the song with exercise, which will make you more likely to want to grab your workout clothes.

4. Schedule it in your calendar. This worked for a friend of mine. She treats her workout like a work appointment and heads down to the gym in her office building the minute the alarm beeps on her phone. “I can always re-schedule it if something comes up during the day,” she told me, “but it has to remain on my schedule somewhere.”

5. Try something novel, and consider it an adventure. My mom has been avidly posting Facebook pics of herself on a pilates machine that she tried with a trainer for the first time. I’m thinking of signing up for 10 classes at a local yoga studio just to break up my routine—or I may just try a new workout DVD or a new app for my iPhone that tracks my runs.

6. Find a fit friend to motivate you. Being around people who show off their abs or discuss their workouts will likely inspire you to get moving as well, research suggests. If you have a fit friend willing to work out with you, so much the better.

What sorts of mental games work for you to stay motivated during the winter months? Check out the video above for more tips.

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