How to Make Exercise Enjoyable

"I can't wait to work out!" If you can't imagine these words ever coming out of your mouth (sans sarcasm), prepare to shock yourself. With a few simple mind tricks and behavioral changes, you really can become one of those people who genuinely love to exercise.
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Take the First Step

Find a workout you actually enjoy. If the thought of jogging for miles on a treadmill or fumbling your way through a step aerobics class makes you groan, don't do it. Forcing yourself to stick with an activity you dread is a guaranteed motivation killer. "People sometimes forget that there are a million different ways to exercise," says Alice Domar, PhD, author of Be Happy Without Being Perfect. "You may need to try several types of workouts before you find 'the one.'" Don't know where to start? Ask yourself what you like to do and try to figure out how you can incorporate exercise into that. For example, if you love to dance, consider signing up for Zumba classes. On the other hand, if you're not blessed in the rhythm department -- and you want a low-key workout -- Pilates might be the perfect fit.

It worked for me! "Whenever I need to relax, I like to sit by the river near my house. I realized that if I walked, ran, or biked by the water, I could use that positive association to help me stay motivated. Now I actually look forward to exercising."
-- Becky Palermo, 33, Boston

Dress for Success

Don't reach for old tees and baggy sweats. Putting on real fitness clothes may inspire you to get moving. A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that people are motivated to work out if exercising is part of their self-image. "Wearing gym clothes helps you identify yourself as athletic and that in itself can be an incentive to get fit," says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. Plus, if you spend some cash on a workout wardrobe you can't let it sit unworn in a drawer, right?

It worked for me! "When I start a new fitness routine, I splurge on a stylish piece of gear I'll need for it, like a yoga mat or a pair of running shoes. I've noticed that when I have a new 'toy,' I'm eager to use it."
-- Jessica Brida, 40, Los Angeles

Continued on page 2:  Think Small


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