Can you trick yourself into liking exercise? Psychology experts say yes. They use the term “reframing your mindset” to do so, and it is one of the most effective strategies for helping you get off the sofa and get moving. As those experts explained, “Even though most of us put happiness near the top of our want lists, many of us are secretly convinced that it will always be just out of reach. But the truth is that happiness is already available to us. All we have to do is start moving.”
They go on to explain that research has proven that movement alters our brains in a manner that triggers a sense of happiness, and said: “moving our bodies is one of the best ways to foster a chemical reaction that leads to happiness.”
Yet, not all of us love the idea of a workout, and so we have to alter our mindset about what it all means. As a simple example, when you hear the term “exercise,” don’t think exclusively of an intense bout of running or weightlifting. Don’t think that you must work out for a long period of time or it simply “doesn’t count.”
Instead, adjust your mindset to think of any sort of physical movement as counting as exercise. After all, if you skip the elevator and walk those five sets of stairs to the office, it counts as exercise.
How else might you change your mindset about exercise? We suggest the following:
- Think of any movement you do as exercise AND simultaneously as a gift to yourself. Gift yourself in this way at least once each day, but try for a few times daily. For example, gift yourself 15 minutes of gentle stretching during lunch or gift yourself an hour’s jog or walk at the end of the day.
- Give yourself some flexibility in scheduling. For example, if you planned on doing a one hour jog but your schedule got disturbed, still give yourself some smaller chunks of time to get that exercise into the day. Altering the mindset to accept four 15-minute intervals as the same as a solid hour requires you to be flexible in your thinking, but will change how you see and feel about exercise.
- Your reason for doing exercise should NOT be about losing weight, getting into shape or improving your health. Why? They are temporary motivators and bound to fall short of long-term goals. If you are going to adjust your perspective on exercise, you have to turn it into something your brain likes at the moment. Because of that, you should exercise because it feels good, stops you from feeling blue, or gives you joy (such as dancing, playing a game or any other reason)
- Exercise is NOT a guilty pleasure or something that should be seen as self-indulgent. If you feel guilty about taking time away from household chores, the family, or anything else, you must halt this thought process. Self-care is essential, never selfish. Taking a bit of time each day to address your well-being and health is never a guilty or vain behaviour – it is essential.
- Make it fun. One of the best ways to change your mindset about exercise is to look forward to it. If you follow the tips above, you will realize that you can choose just about any physical activity as your exercise. So, if you find that you enjoy belly dancing, juggling, walking the shopping centre or something else, and it is a way you can get yourself healthier, then do it and do it with joy.
Taking better care of yourself is what exercise is all about. Make it anything BUT a chore, change your mindset about it and the benefits enjoyed, and you’ll be finding yourself working out more than ever before.