One of the most important things you can do is to prioritize your health and wellbeing. Yet in these self-quaratened times, setbacks, challenges, and roadblocks will question your commitment.
You are ignited by your dreams and the life you want to work towards. But when your exercise end goal is ripped away and routine becomes restricted, it’s common for your motivation levels to plummet.
Rather than beating yourself up for being human, take a minute to read, recenter, and rediscover your fitness “why” and “how”.
This guide will fill your head with science-backed methods for overcoming obstacles to exercise when you’re working out at home.
Overcoming Obstacles to Exercise When You’re Working Out at Home
Sticking to a regular exercise routine isn’t easy in general. When you throw in unpredictable life changes, it can seem close to impossible.
Whether you’ve become besties with your couch or have to balance work and daycare, these issues don’t have to stand in your way. A normal part of achieving goals includes overcoming obstacles.
To break through these barriers, begin by honing in on why you want to work out.
Start By Defining Your “Why”
Whether you were training for a marathon, bulking for a muscle-building competition, getting fit for festival season, or slimming down for summer swimsuits, these goals were helping you achieve a deeper-rooted need.
Identifying your real reason for reaching for better is what will help you brush the dirt off and get back on your feet…
Your values influence the daily decisions you make. For instance, maybe you were driven to work out in order to have energy and feel good in your body. Or maybe you wanted to get healthy so you could be there for your kids.
Leadership Coach, Kelli Thompson, described in ThriveGlobal that values should be based on how you want to move through life. Rather than focusing on a specific timeline, focus on how you want to feel when you get there:
Feel: On this date, how will you feel when the goal is accomplished? Use as many descriptive words as possible. And ask yourself if these feelings are in line with your life values.
Do: What are the actions you need to be doing to keep you on track? Keep them specific but realistic and flexible enough to allow for what life may throw your way.
Who: Who in your life will help you reach this goal and stay on track? Who are people that you see as role models?
Break Through Barriers
Ok, so now you have your why for working out but you look around and your kids are running and screaming or maybe your roommate or partner is looking over your shoulder as you read right now.
Here are practical strategies for overcoming barriers to being stuck in social isolation.
TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE
If being self-quarantined has turned you into a full time parent daycare and teacher, it can seem near impossible to take any time to yourself. But instead of thinking of a workout as a dedicated window of workout time, aim for exercising in short bursts throughout the day.
Studies show that short bouts of exercise throughout the day has similar effects as one continuous bout. Meaning, if you’re on mom duty, doing three, 10 minute workouts is just as effective as a consistent 30 minutes.
This is also an excellent approach to taking a quick break from your at-home work. Studies show that 15 minute exercise sessions enhance cognitive processing. In other words, you’ll be more productive.
A study from Bristol University assessed 200 employees. Participants who exercised had 21% higher concentration and 41% increased motivation to work.
Remember that any activity is better than none and the key is to find a schedule that works for you.
ADAPT AN AT-HOME WORKOUT
If you can get outside for a workout, go for a long walk or run and soak in some serotonin boosting sun. Or if you have access to a backyard or patio, you can get a good muscle buildi
ng Fitbod workout going.
If you don’t have access to the outdoors or simply prefer to stay inside, create a dedicated workout space in your home. If you’re living in a small space, creativity will be your key. Store your yoga matt under your bed. Or find a corner you can workout in and write yourself motivational quotes.
Regardless of whether you have weights or simply your own body weight, you can successfully get fit with a 3-day-at-home-workout. Each of these include both upper and lower body exercises and shouldn’t take you longer than 20-30 minutes.
GET YOUR KIDS INVOLVED
What better way to sneak in a workout AND tire out your cooped up kids than involving them in your routine.
If you have a toddler, use them in your workout routine. For instance, have them lie underneath you and for every push-up you do, they get a kiss. Use your toddler for extra weight as you do sit ups.
If you’re kid(s) are older, include them in a dance party. Dancing is an excellent way to get cardio. Turn on some fun music and make your own music video. Follow a choreographed music video from some of your favorite artists.
Combine playtime with exercise. Get outside and kick a ball around or go for a bike ride. Create your own bootcamp by adapting some kid-friendly Fitbod workouts.
HAVE A HOUSE WORKOUT PARTY
If you share a space with someone, they can have a strong influence on how you eat, exercise, and even sleep. The effects can be positive or negative. Be the positive influence on your roommates or partner by initiating a workout “party”.
Throw on an exercise video and get fit together. Or devise a friendly fitness competition, keeping a tally of how many and what type of exercise each of you does daily.
If your roommate or partner isn’t motivated to exercise but you still want to be respectful of the space (i.e. avoid 6am jumping jacks), you can still get a dynamic and full-body workout without the disruption or noise.
Try FREE Fitbod bodyweight workouts
ENERGY CREATES ENERGY
When you’re bound at home, sitting on the couch all day, of course you’ll feel tired. Once you start moving, the easier it will be to keep moving.
Exercise increases energy by promoting circulation. This means you’ll have more oxygen and nutrients flowing throughout your body. The more you move around, the more mitochondria your body makes. The more mitochondria you have, the greater your ability to produce energy.
In one study, sedentary adults who had reported persistent feelings of fatigue were enrolled in 6-weeks of exercise training. The feelings of fatigue were moderated by exercise, with the more favorable outcome with low-intensity exercise.
HOME ACTIVITIES ADD UP
Since you’re spending more time indoors, it’s helpful to make your space nice. Chores can be a win-win situation. They get you active and result in a clean, happy, conducive living space. After vacuuming, scrubbing, and wiping, you’ll find yourself wiped — in a good way.
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy you burn while doing anything except for sleeping, eating, or exercise. This includes walking or biking to work, yard or home work, and even fidgeting. NEAT can contribute a lot in terms of how we maintain or lose extra weight.
Finding small ways to include activity in your day will add up. Just check out these 30 minute calorie burn estimations that WebMD compiled (note this varies accroding to factors including body mass, age, sex):
Vacuuming (150 pounds): 120 calories
Mowing the lawn (125 pounds): 135 calories
Hand washing dishes (125 pounds): 187 calories
Washing the car (125 pounds): 135 calories
Gardening (125 pounds): 135 calories
Successfully Change a Habit
Ok so you’ve got your exercise why and know how to overcome obstacles when working out at home. Great! Now how do you keep the momentum going and turn it into a healthy habit?
In terms of the time it takes to make or break a habit, it’s not clear cut because we’re all different. But studies show that on average, it takes at least two month to develop a new behavior.
So the longer you can stick with it, the more likely you’ll be to do it without thinking.
To successfully change a habit (i.e. swapping gym time for home workout time), keep that motivating factor in mind, find a healthy replacement behavior, and be patient with yourself.
Positive reinforcement means giving something as a reward to encourage a desired action or behavior.
Think about training a dog. When a trainer gives a dog a treat when it performs a trick, this reinforces that behavior.
When it comes to you and your fitness motivation, here are some healthy rewards you can gift yourself after a workout to help “train” your body and brain to workout on a regular basis:
Take a shower with nice products
Journal how you feel post workout and add encouraging words
Workout remotely with a friend and give each other praise for completing it
Treat yourself to a fancy home-brewed coffee, tea, or beer (in moderation!)
Make and enjoy a protein packed muscle building snack
Your brain will begin to naturally associate the action to the reward, making you more prone to repeating it, with hopes of being rewarded in the future.
PLAN AND PREPARE
The simple act of putting your shoes next to your bed (or work desk depending when you plan to exercise) will encourage your workout.
If you workout in the morning, set your clothes next to the bed so you can throw them on first thing. Why not wear them all day?!
Wear clothes that fit well and make you feel good. Pick colors that you like and help motivate you.
Put workouts in a calendar or on your phone and don’t make excuses. Treat it as a standard work meeting and not something you can hit the snooze button for. Be strict with the time you set aside to workout.
GET GOING WITH A GROUP
So you can’t physically be exercising with others right now, but this doesn’t mean you can’t get the support and encouragement you crave.
According to research presented in Medium, the two factors that effectively help people achieve the behavior they desire are incentives and accountability. When you’re accountable to someone or a group of people, you’ve got the power of social expectations working on your side.
Set up a Skype call and workout together. Create a text or email group with friends and family members with weekly fitness routines. Send each other encouragement and accountability. We’re in this together!
FIND AN EFFECTIVE FITNESS PLAN
You can definitely do an effective full-body fitness plan in the comfort of your own home. The key is to include five key elements:
The Fitbod app tracks your workouts, including which muscles were used. This training algorithm builds your personalized workouts based on this information. As a result, you get a full-body workout that adapts to your level as you get stronger.
Register for your bodyweight workouts here: Fitbod Announces Bodyweight Workouts.
Especially in a time like this, it’s essential to focus on selfcare. That calls for putting your health and fitness first. This will allow you to be more flexible with the unknown and shift gears when needed. It can also help you be present with others when they need you the most.
Staying motivated on your path requires perseverance, patience, and constantly checking in with your why. In other words, your motivation. Be kind and patient with yourself as you build new behaviors.
This is a difficult time for everyone. Embrace where you are today and realize that the unknown is stressful. Give yourself time to adjust. Limit the negative and deflating self talk while encouraging the stuff that makes you feel strong, healthy, and your best self. You got this!
Lisa is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) with over 15 years of experience in nutrition, fitness, and mental health coaching and education. She studied Foods and Nutrition at San Diego State University and earned a Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition at Hawthorn University.
Having certifications and experience in group exercise, intuitive eating, coaching and psychotherapy, and digestive wellness, she’s enthusiastic about the relationship between the body and mind.
She’s dedicated to helping people understand how to implement healthy habit change, while gaining a deeper understanding of what makes them feel their personal best.