How To Trick Yourself Into Working Out… Every Day

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: bbernard)

In the spirit of Halloween, this month we’ll be sharing solutions that are so simple and easy—and at times, automated—they feel like magic. Hocus Pocus celebrates all the small ways you can trick yourself into living a better life.

When you think about working out, does your mind go right to the idea of sweating profusely on a treadmill? Here’s the thing about exercise—from a young age, it’s taught to us by our doctors that it’s important for our health, but we’re not always taught about what exercise really looks like.

Exercise is certainly a generally good thing, but it’s also a highly individual thing—and something that looks different for different people. Everyone has their own goals, abilities, fitness levels and reasons for working out, and the only thing that matters is that you do what works best for you. Exercise can be about losing weight, gaining weight, building strength, coping with stress, dealing with chronic illness, or even just because you enjoy certain physical activities. And a workout doesn’t have to look like the intense gym sessions we see so often on TV—it can be as simple as waking up 15 minutes earlier to take a walk around the block, or doing yoga before bed.

You don’t have to want to exercise every day—truly, you don’t have to want to work out at all—but if you do want to start exercising more often and it feels like it’s impossible to do, reframing the way you think about working out can help. Rather than trying to schedule in an hour at a gym every day even though you already feel like you don’t have enough time, try sneaking a little extra exercise into your everyday routine. And if it’s motivation you crave, there are tricks you can try to get you into the fitness groove, however you choose to move.

For your normal routine…

Trade in Your Transportation

This depends a lot on where you live, what your commute is like, and what you’re able to do, but if you usually drive to work and it’s not too far, try switching out your usual car trip for a bike ride. If your usual commute involves public transportation like the bus or the subway, try getting out a few stops early and either riding your bike or walking the rest of the way.

→ 21 Ways to Sneak Extra Walking Into Your Day (and Hit Your 10,000 Step Goal)

Skip the Elevator

If you can, pretend like the elevator just doesn’t exist and take the stairs instead. Of course, if you work or live on the 15th floor, going up and down all those stairs might be exhausting, so try getting out a few floors before yours and walking the rest of the way up.

Work Out While you Watch

Have a favorite show you always watch regularly? Use that TV time to get some exercise in while you’re tuned in. It won’t take any extra time out of your day, and you can do whatever kind of exercise works best for you and your body without worrying about trying to fit it into your busy schedule.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

If you can spare 20 minutes…

Exercise in Bed

No matter who you are or how you feel about fitness, I think we can all agree on one thing—sometimes getting out of bed is hard. (Especially come winter when the outside world is cold and dark, and your bed is so warm and snuggly.) Make the best of both worlds by doing some light exercises in bed, like these exercises from BuzzFeed.

Start a Post-Dinner Walk Tradition

You can go it alone, or you can get your family/friends/roommates to join you, but either way, try scheduling a short after dinner stroll around your neighborhood into your day, and make it something you really enjoy. If you’re walking alone, it’s an opportunity to clear your head and think, and if you’re with people you love, all you need is some good conversation.

(Image credit: wavebreakmedia)

If you have the time…

Find Classes that Suit You and Do What You Love

Fitness classes don’t have to be the same ones you’re always hearing about—they’re not all crossfit, spinning and yoga, I promise. Seek out a unique class that both fits your body and incorporates elements of things that you already love, and you’ll look forward to it rather than dread it. Classes like Pound, for example, put an exercise spin on drumming complete with weighted drumsticks, while organizations like Spirit Club offer different classes that are meant to provide fitness opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. Another example is CorePower Yoga, which offers a class called Core Restore that’s great for people who deal with pain, as it’s designed to alleviate soreness.

→ Brush Up on Your “Sweatiquette”: 6 Things Your Fitness Instructor Wants You to Know

Join a Recreational Team

You don’t have to be a student or a pro to join a team sport—there may be intramural leagues in your area that you can get involved with, or you can even try to start your own. And you don’t have to play football or soccer for it to count—activities like frisbee, golf, and bowling are all great, too.

(Image credit: Syda Productions)

To get motivated…

Make Your Workout Clothes Double as Pajamas

Make getting out of bed for a morning workout feel a little less daunting by wearing your workout clothes (make sure you invest in comfortable ones!) to bed—it’ll save you precious time getting ready.

Make a Playlist that Boosts Your Mood

Music is a powerful thing—ever notice how sometimes the right song can change your whole mood? Put together a playlist of all the songs that motivate you and pump you up, and let it guide you through your exercise routine.

Reward Yourself for Challenges

Sometimes exercise is challenging, whether you’re doing something new that you’ve always wanted to try, or you’re just not in the mood to get out of bed. Come up with little rewards for yourself for those times when you need a little extra push—think promising yourself a warm bubble bath if you try a new workout class, or treating yourself to your favorite meal when you do something you thought you never could.

Rethink How You Set Goals for Yourself

Think about the goals you’ve tried to achieve in the past, and why they didn’t work for you. Make goals that are realistic so you don’t set yourself up for failure from day one—things that you can slowly build yourself up to, rather than things you want to achieve quickly. Don’t set goals for things that are beyond your control, and don’t focus on numbers. Your goals, just like the exercises you do, work best when they’re tailored to you, what you can do, and how you feel—not what you think you should do.