Whether it’s the feeling of a enjoying a workout or the runner’s high, exercising can be incredibly rewarding. However, if you’ve become stuck in a rut and start to dread your workouts, it may be time to try something new. Luckily, there are plenty of tips and strategies for enjoying a workout.
For starters, you can take your exercise to the next level by focusing on the outcomes. Instead of viewing your workouts as chores to be checked off your to-do list, focus on how you’ll feel afterward, explains sports psychologist Jo Van Raalte. Research shows that thinking about how great you’ll feel after your exercise stimulates the release of dopamine in your brain, a neurotransmitter that helps associate your workouts with positive feelings.
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Another strategy for learning to love your workouts is finding an activity that you actually enjoy, says Jess Eisner, an exercise and fitness specialist in the US. This could be anything from rock climbing to a barre class, to running in nature to even simply jamming out with a playlist. Research shows that listening to music increases workout enjoyment, so you can boost your motivation by connecting with a song or an artist that you like.
You can also make your exercise more enjoyable by incorporating a distraction, which is an easy way to increase the speed at which you’ll complete your workout. For example, if you’re working out at the gym, listen to a podcast or music that you like, or put on an episode of a show that you’re binging on Netflix. Studies show that this type of “carrot on a stick” approach can help you overcome your willpower issues and start to look forward to your workouts.