When was the last time a workout flew by? Five minutes on a treadmill can feel like forever when you’re bored. The stats speak volumes: less than 5% of adults do the daily minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services. But exercise doesn’t have to be a drag. If it is, you’re doing it wrong. With these three science-backed tactics under your belt, you’ll soon be working out without realising it.
1. Exercise your brain while you workout
Physical exercise can help your brain work better, especially memory and thinking skills. But engaging your brain during a workout can also help you keep going for longer. In a study published by the University of Florida, researchers gave male and female participants 12 different cognitive tasks while they were cycling. These included naming colours, saying “go” whenever a blue star appeared on screen, repeating long lists of numbers backwards and solving maths problems.
Apart from the most difficult task (maths) participants actually cycled 25% faster – some even doubled their speed unknowingly. If something is too demanding, it can actually slow you down, so engage in some kind of brain training that’s easy, fast-paced and engaging, such as a fun mobile game or a storytelling podcast (a murder mystery, perhaps?). It shouldn’t be too simple, though – watching your favourite TV show doesn’t count.
2. Grab a buddy – or lots of buddies
Unless you’re the kind of person who can throw yourself out of bed at 5am, lace up your trainers and dash out for a run in the rain, chances are that getting motivated to exercise is tricky. Staying motivated, once you’re exercising, can be even harder. Finding a workout buddy not only means you’re accountable to turn up, they can make sure you don’t throw in the towel prematurely.
Friends fully-booked? There are plenty of groups you can join and take advantage of in your local area, from hiking enthusiasts to park runners. Even better, get a professional buddy. Our personal trainers can design a personalised program for you that boosts your physical and mental wellbeing. And with our functional fitness philosophy, you won’t be stuck looking at a blank wall running on a treadmill for 30 minutes.
3. Crank up the tunes
Music can be thought of as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug” according to Costas Karageorghis, a world-leading expert on the psychology of exercise music at Brunel University in London. Pumping out the beats can help runners run further, cyclists ride for longer and swimmers go faster. It’s the perfect distraction – some apps can even be linked to your Spotify account and will play tracks according to your heart rate.
But the psychology of effective workout music is more than simply picking out some high-energy tunes and pumping some iron. Choosing songs that evoke memories and emotions – tracks that you actually feel – is crucial for getting into the zone and turning exercise boredom on its head.