Just because we all know the benefits of regular exercise doesn’t mean we actually want to do it.
Finding it hard to hit the gym or trail? Neuroscientist Dr Jennifer Heisz says this is a pretty common internal dilemma, especially for those starting a new workout routine.
Instead of telling yourself “I’ll start tomorrow” again, these are her hacks for convincing your brain you love working out, even before those exercise endorphins start to kick in.
- Listen to music before your sweat sesh - Listening to an energizing playlist to pump you up for your walk or spin class can be helpful, but playing your favorite tunes right before you head out the door can inspire you to get moving. Heisz explains that your brain wants to stay comfortable and relaxed, which is why you feel a lack of motivation. But playing music you love can “stimulate the reward system and start making that connection with movement and enjoyment.”
- Swish-and-spit technique - According to this brain-health expert, there’s some research that shows if you take a swish of a sugary drink in your mouth, it’s easier for you to be active. The study she refers to finds that when runners swish sugar water in their mouths - without swallowing it - they have increased endurance and faster running times. Heisz says, “The idea is that it convinces the lazy brain that resources are plenty.” Just don’t try it with artificial sweeteners, it has to be real sugar.
- Fear-buster workout - For folks who struggle with feelings of anxiety, like a racing heart and trouble breathing, Heisz suggests a technique called the “fear-buster workout” may help. It includes a light to moderate walk with a very short sprint at the end, and it’s that intense burst of exercise that “essentially acts like an exposure therapy.” It helps people get used to feeling their heart race and that difficulty breathing but in a safe space.