Staying Motivated to Exercise

STAYING MOTIVATED TO EXERCISE

By Susie Ro, MD


Most people with Parkinson’s are aware of the numerous benefits of exercise: improved motor function, mood, memory, sleep, energy level, constipation, sex life, and general health, to mention a few. There is even some evidence that exercise may protect and enhance function of brain cells, as outlined in the research on neuroprotection by Dr. Jay Alberts.

We all know it’s good for us, yet 95% of people who start the new year exercising with the best of intentions will stop exercising. So why don’t more people stick with something that is proven to make you look, think, and feel better, at least as much as any pill you can buy?

Lack of knowledge is not the main problem in most cases, it’s lack of motivation. But even motivation can be de-mystified with a list of concrete tips.

10. SET GOALS (WHY)

Find your personal reasons to exercise and write down every one you can think of. Post the list in a place so that you can see them. Reread the list when your motivation is low. Some examples might be:

*  To be able play actively with grandchildren.
*  To be able to go on trips where I want without getting too tired.
*  To improve golf gameo keep Parkinson’s at bay as long as possible!
*  To keep Parkinson's at bay as long as possible.

9. MAKE GOALS REALISTIC AND CONCRETE (WHAT)

Set a measurable goal with a time frame or specific event in mind.

For example, train to walk or run a 5k or 10k for a fundraising event like Team Parkinson’s that is scheduled for 3-6 months away. Have a goal outfit you’re going to wear at the reunion, and say you will lose 10 lbs in 3-4 months. Just saying you’re “going to walk farther” is too vague, and signing up for the Ironman when you haven’t completed a 5k is overwhelming. If you are new to exercise simply walking to the mailbox or around the block is a start.

8. MAKE A COMMITMENT- BE ACCOUNTABLE!

If you can’t do it for yourself, do it out of fear of embarrassment, fear of letting someone else down, losing money, guilt, etc. Once you tell all your friends and family of your plans, once you sign up for that race, it’s out there.

Another idea is to make an appointment with a personal trainer; you’re less likely to no-show if someone is expecting you, especially if you’re paying them. Personal trainers can also support and encourage you and come up with goals and strategies to overcome obstacles.

If all else fails, there is a website where you can bet against yourself. You send them your credit card info, and if you don’t meet your weight loss goal every week, it donates a large sum of money to a charity that you don’t like. Consequences of quitting are real if they hurt.

7. FIND THE FUN

If you enjoy the activity, you’re much more likely to stick with it. Some people like exercise classes, others prefer hiking in peace and quiet, do what you like. Or, try something new. You never know if yoga or Wii Fit might be your new favorite thing.

6. FIND A BUDDY/ TEAM

You’re much more likely to keep exercising consistently if you have a workout buddy or team. You keep each other accountable, challenge each other, keep each other company. Exercise classes can be instructional, motivating, and commit you to a specific meeting time.

5. MAKE IT EASY/ CONVENIENT

Find activities that are close to home and don’t require too much hassle.

Morning may be a good time for many, people are fresh after sleep/ not tired after a long day. Program it into your daily schedule (set aside a regular time), right after breakfast and brushing your teeth, or possibly in the early afternoon when many people are feeling a slump.

4. KEEP TRACK OF PROGRESS and WRITE THINGS DOWN DAILY

Set daily goals within your larger goal. Put a calendar on the fridge or keep a journal. Write down what you did that day, times, distances, reps-next to the goal for that day. Give yourself credit for every day that you’ve done what you’ve set out to do. Last month it took you an hour to walk 2 miles, now you’re doing it in 40 minutes- that’s progress. Seeing the numbers shows you incremental improvements and positive results.

3. BREAK IT UP and MIX IT UP

If you’re too tired to do an entire hour at once, do 20 minutes 3 times. If you’re very short on time, 10 minutes is better than zero minutes. Once an exercise is no longer challenging, you’ve hit a plateau. Switch up your routine or set a harder goal to keep getting better.

2. DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION/ AVOID THE “ALL-OR-NONE MENTALITY”

You know who you are. Awwww, I cheated on the diet. I stopped exercising for a week. Might as well quit, what’s the point now, right? Wrong!

Forget the past, don’t beat yourself up. No one will know or care once you eventually reach your goal. You are a real winner if you fall 7 times but get up 8 times. It’s OK to fall off the wagon, or to take a break (a SHORT break) as long as you’re committed.

So you’re not going to the Olympics, neither is the next guy. If you do the entire 5k on your own power, you’re amazing, period.

1. REWARD YOURSELF

Reward yourself every single day you bring yourself closer to your goal. Some people put a dollar in a piggy bank for every day they exercise, and at the end of a month buy themselves a treat. Completed the 5k? Buy yourself a weekend getaway, or at least wear the medal. The successes you achieve are 100% because you have the power to change yourself and make it a reality.

Reprinted with permission from Northwest Parkinson's Foundation and Dr. Susie Ro.

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