How to exercise when you’re not in the mood

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It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s early and sleep is better for us than a workout, right? Not to mention it’s expensive. A night on the sofa with Netflix, or a morning lingering over peanut butter toast, is far more appealing than pulling on leggings to go spinning.

And yet, we all know how much better we feel after a workout. It’s invigorating, clears our head, gets the blood circulating – plus, it’s good for our health and burns off some unwanted calories, too.

So, we turned to the experts to learn how to get ourselves to exercise when we’re not in the mood. Pin these to your mirror and recite them to yourself when that alarm goes off at 6am…

Luke Worthington is an elite performance and human movement specialist.

“The trick to finding motivation to exercise is to be realistic about your goal setting and how much time you have to commit to your plan,” he says. “If you’re running a company, bringing up two kids, and caring for an unwell parent, then it’s probably unrealistic to expect yourself to add in six exercise sessions a week.” He goes on, “in my opinion, health and fitness is all about balance. A fulfilling life should have a balance of professional fulfilment, healthy relationships and a reasonable amount of alone time for self reflection and evaluation. Building three to four exercise sessions into this should complement this, not replace elements of it. Once we find a balance that incorporates health and fitness into a balanced and happy lifestyle, all of a sudden we understand that we have created habits and routines that include physical activity, so one missed gym session here and there really doesn’t matter – it’s the bigger picture across the whole week, month and year that matters.”

Mark Hignett from Fitness Space Battersea is a fitness expert and personal trainer.

“When I’m really not in the mood it’s so hard to find the motivation to train so what I do is scrap my programme and do a workout I enjoy. I keep it short and sharp but make sure it’s effective. Sprinting is my favourite exercise so I’ll do 10 sprints on the skillmill followed by a couple of upper body exercises. Music has to be on point to drag me through it,” he says. “If I’m still lacking motivation then it’s a group session for me – let the instructor do the motivating.”

Kajsa Ernestam is the in-house dietitian at global health app Lifesum.

“Consider using an app to keep you on track with your goals and to challenge and inspire you. Also, subscribe to an aspirational blog. Although you may have already signed up to a gym and committed to a diet, if you subscribe to a food blog or health newsletter, update alerts can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track and might even inspire you to try something new with healthy recipes and exercise regimes. Plus, a good method to help you boost your motivation is to find something that you know will trigger your willpower, whether it is a song or a photograph of something you want to achieve.”

Melissa Weldon is the head of training at Sweat It.

“Drag a friend into the equation; if I’m really busy or tired, I invite friends to train with me. That way I will never let them down and therefore still get my workout in. Take the pressure off. So one day you don’t get your workout done or you miss a thing off your to-do list, the world will keep spinning, it’s not that serious. Hit life a little harder tomorrow!”

Best of luck. And remember, self-care comes in all shapes and forms. One day it may be a run, the next, hot buttered crumpets. Balance is key.

By Charlotte

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