9 Little Tricks That Make Working Out A Lot Easier


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  105 comments   :  108,912 Views

I am not a morning person, but a few times a week, I make myself a morning exerciser. It's the only way I'm guaranteed to fit in my runs. A couple weeks ago, I was too darn tired to wake up early to run, so I decided I'd do it during the workday instead. I packed up my gym bag with my running clothes, then scrambled around the hall closet looking for travel size toiletries and a towel; packed a change of clothes (going over my mental checklist of underwear, socks, deodorant, oh yeah and a hairbrush), and headed to the office with a mental plan to run and shower during lunchtime.
I realized that by the time I packed up all my stuff, I could have been well into my run—or even finished a short workout (since 10 or 15 minutes of exercise is always better than none). And even with the best intentions—and a supportive work environment that encourages exercise—I never found the time to sneak away to run (let alone shower afterward). Before I knew it, my day was over, and my plans to exercise were foiled.
I enjoy exercising and make it part of my daily life—yet even I have trouble getting to it all the time. So I can only imagine how much harder it is for someone who doesn't like it and isn't quite in the habit. The whole scenario got me thinking about all the little things I do that have a big impact on my ability to stick with my exercise plans.
If you're having trouble sticking with an exercise routine, the most common excuses for skipping it revolve around lack of time, poor priorities, and motivation. These nine little things will help you tackle hurdles in all of those categories.
Keep your gym bag packed.
This is especially important if you exercise at the gym on your way to work or during your workday. Keep a checklist inside your bag of all the items you need to pack each day to prevent yourself from forgetting crucial items. Invest in a large gym bag with room for your clothes, and spend a little extra money to buy set of travel size toiletries that always remain inside your bag. A second hairdryer (or whatever other accessories you might need) could be worth the cost if it means "I forgot my hairdryer" will no longer be an exercise excuse for you to skip the gym over lunch.
Join a gym en route to work.
It's pretty hard to skip the gym when you have to drive by it on your way to work or your way home each day. For that reason, I've always joined whatever gym is literally on the way. Since time is an issue for me (isn't it for everyone?), it's way too easy to drive home rather than driving out of your way to a gym—especially if you're not that motivated. Joining a gym that is easy to get to is one of the best excuse busters around.
Give your goal a deadline.
Sign up for a race (like our Virtual 5K this fall!), and your motivation to stick with your training will stick around—I promise. Even if you're not a runner or a walker, you can sign up for other events or competitions in weight lifting, biking, Crossfit (for all you Crossfitters out there)—you name it. Or if a little competition doesn't do it for you, set a real date for your fitness goals and tell everyone you know about it. If you tell all your co-workers or family members that you're going to be able to do 100 pushups or 15 pull-ups by January, they'll keep you accountable.
Invest in your fitness.
If you're financially savvy and get a high from getting a bang for your buck, then buy some fitness-related items to keep you motivated and on-track. Purchase a 30-day pass to a yoga studio, some new workout clothes, a high-tech fitness device (more on that below), or a gym membership contract, then make sure you are getting the most for your money. Going to the gym just once a month may mean that each visit costs you $50—and that's not a good buy. (My father-in-law actually likes to joke about how much each of his gym visits cost him since he rarely goes.) Why not see how low you can bring your per-use cost down to by using it more often? Go five times a week and that brings it to just $2.50 a visit—talk about a good deal! Those $80 workout pants are pricey when you only wear them to bed, but wear them once a week to the gym for a year, and their per-use cost is about $1.50—a good buy!
Keep your equipment accessible and visible.
I like to keep my home clean and de-cluttered, but one thing I like to do on occasion is place small piece of fitness equipment in a visible place in my house. For a few weeks, it serves as reminder to use my equipment. When I first bought my kettlebell, I kept it in the living room. And every time I walked past it, I would do 10-20 kettlebell swings with it. Think about what else you could do: a pair of dumbbells in the hallway; a resistance band in your home office; and a stability ball in the family room could all be cues to drop and give yourself 5 minutes of exercise on the fly!
Become a morning exerciser.
Morning exercise works. Let me repeat that: Exercising in the morning is one of the best ways to stick to a routine. Even with the best intentions, life gets in the way of your desire to squeeze in a workout. Anyone—even you—can wake up 15 minutes earlier to squeeze in a 15-minute workout (especially when you sleep in your workout clothes).
Dress for the part.
It's hard to say no to a workout when you're dressed for the part. Whether you do it in the morning, during the day, or after work, make sure the first thing you do in preparation for your workout is get fully dressed for it. You'll feel those excuses melt away, especially if you're like me and won't lie down on a couch (or a bed) with shoes on, and/or don't like wearing shoes inside the house.
Make rewards fun and surprising—and let your friends help.
Self-imposed "rewards" have never worked for me. If I want something, I'll generally just get it and feel like I deserve it. Withholding my own money for a reward I want doesn't really motivate me to follow through with something. I figured that rewards would never be part of my health or fitness plan, but was glad to leave them to others for whom they do work. Then I saw a SparkPeople member blog about rewards that totally changed my perspective. The member gave several of her friends an "allowance" to buy her a surprise gift. Then she wouldn't receive/open the gift until she reached her next milestone (which was pounds-lost in this case, but could be anything really). Now this is a fun and exciting way to reward yourself if you have trouble sticking with a self-reward structure.
Get tech-y with it.
Certain fitness gadgets inspire people to move: a pedometer, the FitBit, the BodyBugg, even a heart rate monitor. Since these track your calorie burn, they can serve as inspiration to get moving more to up your burn. When I bought my Garmin Forerunner, it totally changed my attitude about running from something I did to something I loved—and I'm not even a gadget person. These external cues and reminders to move may be all you need to get off your rear.
What "little" things make it a lot easier for you to exercise? Do you use any of the small tricks above? How have they worked for you?

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  • 105
    Good plan - 12/16/2017   7:57:01 AM
    Thanks - 11/14/2017   7:35:43 AM
    I enjoyed this article very much. - 11/5/2017   7:12:55 PM
    thanks - 11/3/2017   7:16:13 AM
  • 101
    Amazing what little things can do to help you get moving. - 9/4/2017   2:24:25 PM
    I'm totally not a morning person either, but I've lately started forcing myself to go to bed a little earlier and get up and walk/run 3 times a week, and it's been so much easier to stick to than working out in the evening like I used to. It's just way too easy for me to find excuses at night - "I'm starving, I need to eat first", "Oh, I need to let my food settle first", "oh, now it's too close to bedtime..." and it's ridiculously easy for me to get caught up reading or something and suddenly look up and it's 10pm. I'm going to try and stick to mornings as best I can. Get it done with first so I don't have to worry about it the rest of the day. - 8/23/2017   12:08:11 PM
  • 99
    Gym bag always packed and on hook by kitchen doir! - 5/22/2017   8:24:51 AM
  • 98
    good shoes I find are so important! - 4/28/2017   7:59:04 AM
  • 97
    great! - 3/28/2017   10:28:19 AM
  • 96
    Great article! - 3/22/2017   8:25:02 AM
  • 95
    Two things: retirement helps me to LOVE morning exercise and second - getting a dog means you'll take a morning walk. - 3/21/2017   8:10:56 PM
  • 94
    All good ideas! - 3/21/2017   10:18:10 AM
  • 93
    I spent the first 4.5 years after my bypass surgery making excuses why I could not find time to exercise. I led for work at 5:30 a,m. and got home at 5 p.m. I was a teacher and it was hard work because it was my passion and it exhausted me. Then in April of 2016, I had my 2nd knee replacement surgery and I said, "I'm done!" I retired in June and it was the best thing I could have done. For the 1st time in 40 years I am putting me first and I am losing my 19 pound regain and I will make my goal. I wish I could have found this "me" years ago and I encourage you to find the time now, not 40 years later. The article gives great advice. Stop making excuses and start taking care of you first! - 3/21/2017   1:19:04 AM
  • 92
    I never was a morning exerciser but now with our dog I get a 20 minute or so walk when I wake up. Nice way to start the day!
    Truthfully for me, retiring was what made morning exercise easy and a non negotiable part of each day. - 5/7/2016   8:11:17 AM
  • 91
    Giving yourself a non-food reward is the most motivating thing I can do for myself! - 1/24/2016   9:21:38 PM
  • 90
    I find coming to this site does not help I waste probably a good 45 minutes wading through and getting my points. - 1/20/2016   8:39:38 PM
  • 89
    I just started running again! It took alot of work to get there (so much Physical therapy) but i finally reached a mini goal!! My physical therapist has me doing 20 minute run/walk intervals 3 times a week and light weight resistance after those intervals! so happy to get back into it! - 12/14/2015   12:17:10 PM
  • 88
    Morning really does work. When I started on my health journey I made sure I took a 10 min walk before I went to work. And then throughout the day I got in 10 - 15 min walks. Now that I'm retired (YAY!!) I workout every morning. Sometimes at the gym, sometimes doing a long walk. It works and sets the day up right.
    My Nike Fuel band keeps me focused and moving. - 12/14/2015   7:48:56 AM
  • 87
    I don't understand this push to exercise in the morning, first off getting up a couple hours earlier would mean a couple hours less sleep, on work nights I only get 4-5 hours sleep now. Second as another person said who wants to go to work after a sweaty workout, that means a shower and wash hair, which means a lot more time. Third, the push to exercise in a gym, there are plenty of opportunities to exercise that are not in a gym, and not everyone has a gym in their back yard, the closest gym to me is about a 80 mile round trip. - 12/14/2015   12:52:13 AM
  • 86
    Sounds like a great plan of action. - 11/4/2015   8:43:53 AM
  • SH2738
    I think that this article is really only useful for people who have the time and energy to work out in the mornings and who actually go to the gym. I don't personally do to the gym, see no reason to and I don't like gyms. I exercise at home. I am a morning person and on the weekends, I do workout at home in the morning. However, during the work week that is just impossible. I have to work obviously so I don't have time in the mornings to workout. I would have to wake up at least an extra hour early and then I would be all sweaty when I got dressed to go to work, which is not okay in a professional environment (I shower in the evenings). So none of these tips work for me. This is more for people who don't work that are able to work out in the mornings, or people that somehow have the time to. Not me, job comes first. - 5/20/2015   8:34:38 AM
    I'd probably be a morning exerciser if I was single. However, my husband's schedule is prone to change from day to day, which means he could be off work entirely, work early (7/8am-3pm), midshift (10am-6pm), or late (1/2pm-9/10pm). If he gets home at 10 pm, I'm not going to be in bed because I actually would like to spend some time with him since I leave before he gets up most mornings. I can't make myself go to bed at 8pm when he'll just come in later and wake me up anyway when he gets home. Afternoon/evening exercising just works better for our schedule as a couple. - 9/8/2014   10:07:06 AM
  • 83
    I work night shifts. I will try to go after work since there is a gym across the street. I have a gym bag that I will pack and keep in my car. I also started with a fitbit zip a few months ago. It let's me know I need to do more and I think the tips will help start me in that direction! - 9/5/2014   10:23:49 PM
  • 82
    I work midnights so I sleep during the mornings...an early evening run however, that can be fun. - 8/25/2014   3:34:30 AM
  • 81
    I love listening to fast beat music. It encourages me to walk at a faster pace. - 6/12/2014   1:44:26 AM
  • JDRAKE8171
    Like you, I pretty much buy myself those little things that I want, but recently I realized that if I want to go on another cruise to go snorkeling, I needed to find the $$$ somewhere because it's not a big priority to my husband. So I've begun rewarding my better food choices and behaviors (like exercising) with a dollar. If it's a really huge (difficult) choice that I've made I give myself $5 (I've only done this once, so it has to be a really, really big deal). I'm on my way to my half of our cruise. I've discussed it with my husband and when I "earn" my half, we'll kick in his half out of our budget and be on that cruise! - 6/10/2014   7:02:18 AM
  • 79
    You know how you can tell that someone isn't a morning person? They don't have the energy to exercise in the morning!!! If I forced myself to exercise in the morning I would be getting such a good workout. The best time for ME to exercise is mid-day. What the writer of this article isn't understanding is that not everyone is just like her. Find the time of the day that you will have the energy and the time and that is when you should exercise!!! - 12/5/2013   7:52:18 PM
  • 78
    I lost 80 pounds so I started coaching my friends to lose weight which means I am forced to lead by example and keep the weight off to play the part because I can't ask them to do anything that I'm not already doing myself. - 9/18/2013   7:46:06 PM
  • 77
    re morning - if I actually had to exercise in the morning it would never happen. The author claims to not be a morning person but I really doubt it. I have built an exercise routine just find with only really being active in the afternoon and night and occasional noon. I strongly believe you have to find what works for you and not what works for others. I do like other suggestions (except I don't pass a gym on my way to work since I work in several different places so finding something close to home I can go to after work is much better for me). - 7/22/2013   11:46:08 AM
    The tips are quite easy and we can follow it easily with our daily activities. A small change can result us better health. - 4/23/2013   6:42:13 AM
  • 75
    I have a treadmill in my living room, so it is very easy to get on when I watch my favorite shows. - 3/22/2013   6:43:03 PM
    I go to the gym on my way home from work. My gym bag is always packed.....except for today. I packed it, but forgot my workout clothes! I literally went to the store during my lunch and bought new gym clothes! No excuses allowed. - 3/11/2013   2:05:52 PM
  • 73
    Using the FitBit One has been a real eye-opener for me. Certain workdays are full of climbing stairs, and the FitBit One reflects this. Other weekend days that are mind-body exercise intensive show that step count is down. The FitBit One is easy to wear (IMHO) and totally simple to log. On my computer, just sit there while connected to the internet, and the device automatically collects the latest data. Now that's the kind of human interface that suits me! - 3/11/2013   7:05:40 AM
  • 72
    I go to the gym every day at lunch. It keeps me out of the mall, and away from the fast food. Plus, I pack my bag immediately after I take my dirty clothes out. That way its ready for the next day and I don't forget my underwear (most days :)). - 2/26/2013   8:23:55 AM
  • 71
    The heart rate monitor is a great motivator for me. Seeing the carlorie count increase as I go is great, but it's also helpful to know if I'm really pushing myself as hard as I could/should based on what my HR number is. Great article. - 2/19/2013   1:34:15 PM
    Morning workouts, clothes prepared the night before. - 1/9/2013   12:22:42 PM
  • 69
    I swim and I like to do it early in the morning. So when I am getting up and after breakfast when I am in the bathroom, I put my suit on and that means I am half way there. I usually just throw on some sweats and head out the door immediately after that and once I am in my swim suit and out the door, the swim is a already a done deal (as long as there is no problems with the pool, in that case I will head upstairs to the weight room, and I row for 30 minutes as it is pretty much a full body cardio and strength exercise as well. - 12/1/2012   2:32:12 AM
  • JSYWG170
    Great ideas! - 11/17/2012   1:28:25 PM
    Mornings I'm usually up and going. My days start at 4:30 ish. I been trying to revamp my time to see if I can use the time more wisely. I think a person needs a certain amount of time for the brain to get all the other body parts to warm up let alone fire. I have a circle driveway so I been trying to do a lap or so around the driveway before leaving in the morning. I would like to get more walking going, but I haven't quite figured out how to keep my animals from following me. For now I do about a half mile, just along my property line with seven cats following close behind and a couple of dogs. Just when I think the coast is clear to take off, not long afterwards my parade is closely in step with me. I live on a county road so it makes me nervous to have them on my walks. I tried to pen them up but they are not always together at that moment. If I spend to much time looking for them I would never get any excercise in....so I do my best for now...maybe they will get sick of following me around. Here's to jumpstarts with pot holes in the best laid plans. - 4/6/2012   10:24:00 AM
    This article was great! - 4/3/2012   11:18:45 AM
  • 65
    I keep my dumbbells and stability ball in my living room. My husband actually uses it as a foot stool when I am not using it.
    Also I just bought a heart rate monitor and I kind of like it. I have a range of calories 350-400 I have to burn during my run so I keep going for 5 miles till I reach that lovely 400 number :) - 3/7/2012   8:59:48 AM
    I too am a morning person, and have mornings I just can't get it into gear. Thanks for the motivation. I'm going to try your suggestions. - 2/21/2012   1:17:37 PM
  • 63
    Thanks, Nicole! Great focus ideas! Because of life/family situation, it is best for me to workout after work each day. To ensure that I DO it, I keep my workout clothes and shoes at the end of the bed so that when I get home I throw them on first thing. I don't stop to do anything else first. I also keep whatever else I need handy. My family now expects me to workout first when arriving home. Since Dec. 30, this has worked well for me. I also set up a rewards system and was able to purchase new running shoes after reaching a goal. I'm scheduled to run my first 5K this spring. - 1/30/2012   5:34:29 PM
  • 62
    A wonderful blog, Coach! Honest, and packed with excellent tips, too! - 11/23/2011   10:57:21 AM
    There are two things that keep me motivated: snacks and a trainer!
    If I miss my morning workout and need to go to the gym after work I MUST eat a good afternoon snack! Celery and peanut butter or carrots and hummus are great for me - definitely curb the afternoon hunger. If I'm too hungry after work that's a great excuse for me to go home for dinner instead of going to the gym. Plus, when I'm hungry I usually eat too much for dinner and end up too full to move!
    I also invested in time with a trainer at my gym! I chose a cheaper gym so I could afford some one-on-one time with a trainer, and it's been great! I've had to give up some other things to make room in my budget, but it's been SO worth it to have someone teaching me and holding me accountable each week! - 9/15/2011   12:18:35 AM
  • 60
    I like the idea of getting other people to help you with the reward thing. I haven't been able to find a balance there. On the one hand, if it's something that I need, it's hard to justify not getting it then and being done with it. If it's not something I need, it's hard to justify spending the money on it.

    I think the biggest trick I used that you didn't mention was that I try to keep a back up plan. So, for example, if I plan to go for a bike ride but the weather is terrible, I don't just sit on my couch and think, "well, that's a bust." I think, "well, that's a bummer, but I can go to the gym, or I will put in this video that I wanted to try, or whatever." - 9/15/2011   12:15:47 AM
    Early workout - before my brain can come up with an excuse. That's a great idea. 15 mins won't kill me... it'll be great start to the day. You're also very right about having equipment to hand. Packing everything away means 'out of sight, out of mind'. Thanks for the tips. - 9/13/2011   3:53:34 PM
  • 58
    I am not a morning person but for about the last 20 months or so I have made a concerted effort to get up early and exercise. I started off by swimming once or twice a week and have now moved onto 3 sessions in the gym before work. I am also not too keen on exercise but combining the two has really worked for me. I have recently started a programme called Couch to 5k. It's a series of podcasts that take you through a 9 week programme to get you not running at all to running up to 5k or for 30 minutes. I've just started week 2....so far, so good. Healthy eating also going well and have finally got my weight below 11 stone (154lbs) and don't plan to go above it again!! - 9/12/2011   4:29:13 PM
  • 57
    Got my 6:15am Bootcamp in this morning and I have a 7:00am Zumba class tomorrow. Yea, me !!! - 9/12/2011   1:53:04 PM
  • 56
    Thank you for sharing, I am going to try and put these good tips to work!! - 9/12/2011   2:08:53 AM

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