It's 5 p.m. Monday, and as you drive away from the office, visions of nap time, happy hour, or your favorite shows dance about in your head. The last thing you want to do is throw on some workout gear and "sweat it out" at the gym.
Exercise to maintain a healthy physique is obviously the main reason we get off the couch. Workouts to enhance our mental fitness is just as, if not more important, especially during the long winter months.
Here a six ways to stay motivated and up the physical activity, even when a relaxing night cuddled up with hot tea and a blanket are calling your name:
- Put on Your Gym Clothes Right After Work. Lacing up your gym shoes and changing into the workout gear as soon as you get home will keep you from getting too comfy on the couch. Also, it doesn't hurt to buy fashionable exercise clothes. No one wants to put a cute outfit to waste.
- Set Aside a Pre-Workout Snack. There's nothing worse than stepping through your front door feeling ravenous and doing major damage in the kitchen. If I fill up too much, I feel lethargic and would much rather take a nap than go for a run on a full stomach. Setting aside a light snack will curb hunger and fuel the body enough to crank out an intense cardio or strength training session.
- Take Advantage of Online Resources. The Internet is full of cardio and strength training workouts, and better yet, most don't involve any equipment. Print out a workout routine and hang it on your garage door, or stick it on your refrigerator to remind yourself that you have a structured exercise regimen waiting to be tackled.
- Eat a Good Lunch. A balanced lunch is the perfect way to stay energized and focused into the early evening hours. If you're hitting the gym immediately after work, self.com suggests this nutrient-packed meal: One cup of whole-wheat penne with 4 oz. grilled chicken breast, tomato sauce, a sprinkle of Parmesan, broccoli and sliced zucchini.
Why? "The protein in the chicken will keep energy humming and allow your muscles to store much-needed glycogen from the pasta to fuel your cardio efforts," Carrie Wiatt, a private nutritionist in Los Angeles, told Self. "Slow-burning carbs leave you feeling full, while veggies add vitamins and fiber."
- Make it a Date. Scheduling a run or gym session with your favorite exercise buddy will turn any grueling workout into a social activity and keep you obligated.
- Remember That Post-Workout High. When all else fails, think of how great you feel after any run or strength training session. The endorphins released during physical activity are nothing to scoff at, as exercise helps fight depression, can reduce anxiety and enhances self-esteem.
Cincinnati Running Fitness Examiner Sarah Buelterman, a recent graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, resides in Cincinnati.
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