They don’t call it a workout for nothing. Exercise is hard work! But I’m in the business of ease and efficiency, folks, which is why I search for every possible way to maximize my time and effort in the gym–which, I’ll admit, is not my favorite place on the planet.
Exercise ultimately makes us feel better and keeps us strong and healthy, as I’m sure you’re well aware; all the mind and body benefits are precisely why we need to motivate ourselves to get that work done almost every day. The way I see it, the more effortless we can make your workout experience and the faster we can make the time fly by, the less likely you’ll be to blow it off.
I don’t want you to skip out on your workouts. Here are five tips to make exercise easier, so you’ll stop thinking of gym time as a prison sentence.
Trick your mind with shorter intervals.
I can’t put in an hour workout, y’all. One hour on the treadmill may as well be six months in my mind. That said, I can put four 15-minute workouts into an hour. Try slicing and dicing your workout–with four 15-minute chunks on the treadmill, doing a minute-long plank, 30 sit-ups, and 10 push-ups in between. (Also, sip half a bottle of water for hydration.) It’s roughly the same amount of time in the gym, but knowing you can power down after 15 minutes is a mental lifesaver. Not to mention, you can slip in some mild strength-training and much-needed hydration between sets.
Choose the right friend.
Some people really benefit from having a workout buddy to keep them accountable and distract them from the burn–or multiple buddies, in case someone isn’t free to hit yoga or spin class with you. Choose a workout partner who is roughly the same fitness level as you, so you don’t get discouraged by someone racing ahead of you or pulling off pigeon pose like a champ. Then go forth, make it a social event, and have some fun. “Fun events” are easier than begrudgingly dragging yourself to the gym, right?
Hit the coffee maker before you hit the treadmill.
Brew some coffee or grab some Starbucks before you start your workout. According to 2014 research, downing that caffeine roughly 90 minutes before exercise seems to make the experience easier. On top of that? Those who drank coffee in the morning before hitting the gym also consumed fewer calories at lunch. Bonus perk!
Turn up the tunes.
It’s not your imagination. Blaring a little Beyonce really does help motivate your workout and make the experience a whole lot easier and more enjoyable. Research has shown that music helps our bodies sync to a rhythm, so they actually become more efficient. For instance, one study showed that participants who cycled in time to a song’s beat actually used 7 percent less oxygen to complete the same amount of work as their music-less counterparts. (My guilty pleasures? Fifth Harmony and Little Mix.)
Check the mirror.
Nope, it’s not vanity. Checking yourself out in a mirror can actually help make your cardio workout easier. Crazy, right? But here’s why: According to a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, walking in front of a mirror instead of a wall or static image helped exercisers “stabilize their movement patterns” and ultimately expend less mental energy and effort to get the job done. Like with music, it’s all about allowing your mind and body to sync with something–in this case, it’s a visual. So if your gym or studio has mirrors, try using an exercise machine that faces one.