If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already on board with the various life-enhancing benefits that come from exercise. You’ll know that not only does it make you fitter and stronger, it also has an amazing ability to ease anxiety and stress and help you add happy and healthy years to your life.
Despite knowing these benefits, most of us still need to be coaxed out of our comfort zone and into a workout from time to time. And that's okay. But with these simple steps, you can overcome any barrier set yourself up for happier workouts each and every time.
#1 Do what you want
If you don’t like running, don’t force yourself to pound the pavement. If you hate burpees, avoid them. If lifting weights is not your thing, explore other ways to build strength. There is no single wonder workout or proven exercise prescription that you have to follow. Yes, some workouts can activate muscles more effectively than others, some spark greater amounts of calorie burn, and some build better cardio endurance. But if you don’t like doing these workouts, it’s unlikely that you’ll stick at them and benefit from the transformative effects. Enjoyment is what creates consistency. And consistency is what delivers results. So spend time exploring different ways to move and tap into whatever workouts make you happy.
#2 Don’t take training too seriously
Embrace every workout and always look for opportunities to laugh (either with others or simply at yourself). Laughing helps you relax and recharge – it's hard to feel anxious or stressed when you're laughing. When you indulge in a hearty laugh, your body releases feel-good chemicals, which help ease physical tension and relax your muscles. One study has even shown laughter can increase your pain threshold, allowing you to push yourself and train at greater intensities.
#3 Grab a friend
We really are social animals when it comes to exercise. Studies show that sharing your exercise experiences with others can positively influence your training – helping boost results whether you’re in the group training studio or sweating it out at home. Scientists have found that, compared to people who work out alone, those who work out with others score significantly higher in terms of stress reduction and physical, mental, and emotional quality of life – which is key to feeling happy.
#4 Turn up the volume
Moving to great music is a sure-fire way to make your workout better. Scientists agree that a good beat can cause us to work out faster and harder, but music can also make exercise seem easier and more enjoyable. Music stimulates parts of the brain linked to reward, motivation and emotion. When this happens, hormones such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin are released – sparking feelings of pleasure, well-being, happiness and love. Studies show when you work out in time to music, movement efficiency lifts by 7%; your endurance is boosted by 15%; the effects of the exercise increase by 15%; and your perceived exertion drops by 12% – which means you enjoy it more. Find out more about how music moves you.
#5 Get outdoors
Take your training outdoors and you'll tap into plenty of mood-boosting benefits. Exercising al fresco is shown to make you a brighter and nicer person, with more energy, more positivity and lower stress hormone levels. It can also help increase serotonin levels, easing anxiety and feelings of depression. When you train outside, there’s a good chance you’ll work out for a little longer, which leaves you feeling more satisfied with your training efforts. Discover the best workouts to do outside.
#6 Count happy minutes
Science shows every minute you move counts towards a better workout. You can increase happiness with as little as 10 minutes of exercise and research suggests starting your day with a 20-minute workout sparks an instant mood boost (that’s on par with a cup of coffee). Best of all, the 20-minute workout can leave you with good vibes that last up to 12 hours. One analysis of 23 published studies found those who accumulated at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days were 30 percent more likely to report being ‘happy’ than those who didn’t get their fitness fix.
#7 Get new gear
If there’s one thing that can ruin a good workout, it’s irritating or ill-fitting workout gear. You want comfort and support so you can focus on moving the way you want to – not wasting effort pulling down tops or readjusting waistbands. And good quality workout gear can also help wick sweat away. Of course, it’s not just about functionality; sporting stylish workout gear can also help dial up feel-good vibes and confidence.
#8 Enjoy some healthy competition – with yourself
The old saying ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ certainly rings true in the world of fitness. So whatever you do, stop comparing your workouts and progress with others. Instead, focus on your development by tracking your progress and ensuring you better yourself each week. Tracking your workouts keeps you accountable and by setting yourself goals, you’ll benefit from a real sense of achievement. Fitness apps like LES MILLS+ help you to track every workout. Another way to tap into your competitive spirit is to try fitness gaming and score a wealth of rewards.
Bonus top tip:
Start training with equipment that’s been engineered to make your workouts better.