7 Habits of Highly Effective Exercisers
Exercise Motivation Tips 5-75. Involve your causes.
A political junkie, Rachel Simpson, 31, decided to use her partisan loyalties to help herself lose weight. She vowed to exercise four times a week; for each week she failed to do so, she agreed on Stickk (a Web site that helps people stay committed to their goals) to donate $25 to the library of a former president she didn't like. "Suddenly, working out was mandatory!" says the recent law school graduate in Minneapolis. Three months later she was down 16 pounds -- and hadn't betrayed her party.
Why it works: Strong feelings, especially antipathies, have a multiplier effect. "Losing $10 to an enemy feels like $20 or even $30, so you push yourself harder," says Dean Karlan, PhD, professor of economics at Yale and a founder of Stickk.
Do it yourself: On Stickk, you can pledge to give a minimum of $5 to a charity or an individual (you provide the name and address) you like if you meet your goal or to one you dislike if you fall short. (Your credit card is charged.) Or sign up to raise money for a charity on the Web site Plus 3 Network: You pick from a list of goals that have prearranged corporate sponsors; if you meet yours, they'll pay the charity.6. Make friends with class regulars.
The thought of spending time with her Spinning buddies pushes Marie Bruce, 24, a coach and events director in Austin, Texas, to her morning class three times a week. "We're a tight-knit group," she says. "If I'm grumpy when I walk in, they don't let me stay that way for long." During the past six years, she's grown close to her extended gym family; in fact, they're invited to her upcoming wedding.
Why it works: It's smart time management. "You get your social fix while doing physical activity," Fortier says. Both boost health, and the better you feel, the likelier you are to want to exercise.
Do it yourself: Some classes foster friendships more than others, so you'll have to do some sleuthing. "Arrive early and observe," suggests Moreno, who teaches IntenSati, a mix of aerobics, dance, yoga, and kickboxing. "Are people staking out their places in silence, or are they chatting and laughing and flitting around the room?" Another good sign: The instructor seems to know everyone's name.7. Create an exercise contest.
Taking a page from The Biggest Loser, Elizabeth Kirat, 35, and her friends are embroiled in a sweaty battle to see who can diet and exercise off the most weight. Every six weeks, they call the winner. "There's money at stake, but it's really the bragging rights that keep you returning to the treadmill," says Elizabeth, a photographer in Denville, New Jersey. So far she's dropped 10 pounds.
Why it works: Competition turns a solitary pursuit into a fun group one. "By trying to beat each other, you're actually pulling each other along," Visek says. "Even playful heckling validates that you're working toward a similar goal."
Do it yourself: The contest can be for anything: most steps walked, most hours logged at the gym, highest percentage of body weight lost. Aim for anywhere from four to 10 participants. "Fewer than that, and one person who's not really trying can hobble the group. More than that, and it's hard for everyone to interact," Visek explains. To keep group members engaged, limit the competition to six-week rounds and have weekly check-ins, when people put money in the jar. "Your incentive is regularly refreshed in your mind that way," Visek says. Once everyone has agreed to the rules, let the games begin!More Ways to Maximize Your Motivation
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July/August 2010.
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