The 1 Thing You Need to Stop Doing During Your Workout

| Fitness

How many times have you dreaded working out simply because it felt like another chore on your to-do list? Women's Health author Jennifer Blake says we need to stop thinking of it as a chore, and start making it fun again in the following article from Women's Health.

fitness stretching
(Photo: Women's Health)

If your life is anything like mine, it's chock-full of to-do lists, meetings at work, happy hours with friends, and hopefully a bit of downtime to Netflix and chill. And quite likely, somewhere on that list is a trip to the gym.

How many times have you looked at the gym bag in the back seat of your car and groaned? (Or even better, pretended not to see it.) How many times have you forced yourself off to the gym anyway, plugged in your ear buds, hopped on the elliptical or treadmill, and counted down the minutes from 30 to zero? Or you got bored, so you hopped off before your 30 minutes were up and then felt guilty for cutting yourself short?

>> Read more: Tread to Shred: 5 Treadmill Workouts You Need to Try

Here’s the deal: Yes, improving your general health through fitness is important. Getting your heart rats up with cardiovascular exercise and adding in regular resistance training to strengthen your muscles is key to avoiding serious health issues down the road. (The toned muscles are a nice perk, too.) But getting your fitness on can also be a blast.

elliptical

So how about this: Forget the to-do list, and stop thinking about working out as something you have to do. With a small mindset shift and a few tricks to help you make the most out of your time spent in the gym (even if it’s just five minutes), your workouts will feel a lot less like a chore — and more like something you actually want to do.

Because remember: Bettering your health with working out will only happen if you're consistent — and it’s so much easier to stick with something you enjoy.

1. Set a timer. Instead of heading to the gym and doing a 30-minute workout on autopilot, ask yourself, "How much time am I down to completely devoting to my workout to today?" Look at your schedule: Even when it’s packed, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if you’ve only got 10 minutes to spend sweating that you shouldn’t bother.

Did you know that you can see heath benefits from just a three minutes of intense exercise per week? A study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that those aforementioned three minutes, when done as part of a total exercise time of 30 minutes per week, resulted in tons of improved health measures. Win!

Got 10 minutes? Great! Hop on a stationary bike, treadmill, or elliptical, and trot out a few intervals interspersed with brief periods of rest. Five minutes? Awesome! Kick off your shoes for a quick burst of bodyweight squats, pushups, and planks. It doesn’t take a lot of time to do something great for your body, and even just a few minutes of movement a day can change your fitness and your mindset for the better.

Give yourself permission to break the mold; exercise is about so much more than just showing up and putting in a set amount of time. Look at how many minutes you do have available, set your timer, and then get moving.

toned arms

>> Read more: Short On Time? Blast Fat in Five Minutes Flat!

2. Switch it up. When is the last time you did something other than your normal routine at the gym? If it’s been a while, one of the best things you can do to hit the reset button on your fitness enthusiasm is to try something new.

That feeling of warmth and connection you get when you meet someone new and awesome? You can experience something similar when you find a new exercise modality.

How to get started? Ask yourself, “What do I really want to do for exercise? What looks like fun?” (Raise your hand if asking yourself this never even occurred to you.) The answer could be learning to work with free weights, joining a cycling club, or getting a membership at an indoor rock-climbing facility. You don’t have to be tied to the treadmill at the same fitness center you’ve been going to for years; take a tour of different gyms, and take a look around at the members. Are they having a blast with their workouts? If they are, chances are great you could be, too, if you join in.

To read the rest of Blake's tips, click here to read her original story on Women's Health.