If there's anything that's going to stop someone from exercising, it's feeling like their workout is too hard. If hitting the gym felt easy, we would go every day. With that in mind, it can be helpful to know some ways to make your workout feel easier, as these little tips and tricks can motivate you to get moving more often and perhaps even enjoy the process more.
"Beliefs about intensity, length, and structure are why many people get frustrated and quit before they see the results they want," says Samantha Kellgren, Founder of sjkfitness.com over email. "The 'go hard, or go home!' and 'no pain, no gain!' message has been around so long that people think they should be on the verge of puking every time they enter the gym. This does not make for a fun experience."
Getting in a good workout doesn't necessarily mean you need to knock yourself out, and working hard shouldn't necessarily make you feel miserable. There are ways to tweak your workout that will leave you feeling physically active but not feeling like you've expending all your energy over a little bit of cardio.
Next time you're dreading that long run or kickboxing class, consider these seven ways to make your workout feel easier.
1. Do Intervals
"Breaking up your workout into smaller sections of higher intensity and recovery makes the time fly," says Kellgren. A study published in the Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine and Science In Sports found that people who incorporated interval training into their workout were more likely to stick to their workout, even when the study was over. As an added bonus, with interval training, you get to work for a shorter amount of time and still burn the same, if not more, calories.
2. Go With A Friend
"Go to a class or workout with a friend," says Kellgren. "You won’t feel like you’re on your own and the hard work of others will instantly motivate you." Indeed, research shows that people have double the pain tolerance when working out with someone versus alone, according to a study from Oxford University.
3. Pick Something You Like
Nothing is more miserable than forcing yourself to do a four-mile run when you hate running, so choose something you enjoy to help mitigate the strenuousness of your workout. "If you love dancing, sign up for a class," says Kellgren. You’ll look forward to it, and it won’t feel like a workout."
4. Put On Some Good Music
If a good Beyonce song has ever made you feel more motivated, it's not just in your head. Another study from the Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine and Science In Sports found that briskly-paced music leads to a more brisk workout, and it can improve your mood during a workout as well, which can in turn help boost your performance.
5. Be Reasonable With Your Goals
"If your goal is to workout six days a week, but you find it nearly impossible, make your goal four," says Kellgren. "By having a goal you can actually accomplish, working out won’t seem so daunting." Not everyday has to be your full maximum either. On off-days, consider taking a walk, which can not only be relaxing, but have a variety of health benefits, according to Harvard Health.
6. Drink Some Coffee
If you ever needed an excuse to drink more coffee, here's one: A study from the journal Appetite found that cyclists who had caffeine an hour before riding ranked their workout as less difficult and more enjoyable than people who were not caffeinated.
7. Eat Before
If you find you often lose energy during your workouts, you might want to nibble on a pre-workout snack. Research from Sport Sciences for Health found that exercise after not eating for a couple of hours makes your workouts feel tougher.
If your workout doesn't feel as brutal, you'll be more likely to keep up on your exercise regimen and continue those healthy habits.
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