Yes, of course you know you should work out—it boosts energy, makes you happier and helps you lose weight. You also know your to-do list is endless, in the morning you have no time, at night you’re too tired, and sometimes in between you just don’t feel like it. Still, you know you need exercise. Here are some tips on how to get moving when you really don’t feel like leaving the couch:
Set small goals. Thirty minutes of exercise on most days is the recommendation, but if that’s a chunk of time you don’t have in your schedule, feel free to break it up. Fifteen minutes, twice a day–or even 10 minutes in the morning, 10 in the afternoon and 10 at night—is just as effective. Research conducted at the University of Wisconsin found overweight women lost similar amounts of weight whether they did 30 minutes of aerobic exercise in one shot, or divided their sessions into shorter spurts.
Do what’s fun. Hate going to the gym? Don’t go. The idea of taking a Zumba class gives you hives? Tell your friend you have to pass. You’re more likely to stick to a fitness program if you’re doing something you like. Try new things, too: take tennis lessons, for example, or join a softball league.
Recruit a buddy. Exercising with a partner can help keep you motivated and more accountable, and studies show you may even work out a little harder: Researchers at Michigan State University found exercising with someone you perceive as moderately more capable can as much as double your own workout time and overall performance. Ask a friend to take a yoga class with you, sign up for a local charity run together, and even form your own walking group.
Reward yourself. When you hit milestones—like training for your first 5K walk, or running longer than you ever have before—give yourself a treat to stay motivated, such as a new pair of running socks or a 30-minute massage.