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Dossier: Changing habits

Fitness motivation: 8 tips for more sport

No matter whether you’re a beginner or a professional, everyone loses motivation from time to time. These tips will help make sure you don’t skip your next training session and motivate you to keep going with your fitness programme.

Text: Kamil Biedermann ; photo: Unsplash

It’s no secret that sport and exercise are good for our stress levels and our physical and mental health. The fitness movement in Switzerland isn’t a passing trend. Since 1978, when 1 in 5 people living in Switzerland exercised two or more times a week, the number of people exercising regularly has risen to more than 1 in 2 in 2020. According to the Swiss Sport Observatory, this makes Switzerland once of the most active countries in Europe.

But this doesn’t matter a jot when your inner couch potato is calling. We can come up with any number of excuses: bad weather, too much work, not feeling up to it. It’s important to know what to do when you’re suffering from a lack of motivation.

Tips to help keep you motivated week after week and gradually get closer to achieving your goals:

Exercise at home

Exercising at home is popular. The “Sport Switzerland 2020” study shows that around half of people exercising in Switzerland work out at least occasionally at home or in the garden. Exercising at home is practical, because it means you don’t have to travel to the fitness centre and the shower’s nearby, which removes a few of the motivational hurdles. Especially for beginners, there is a great range of videos and guides for exercises online that can be done without any equipment. A quick 20-minute session at home before breakfast or after work? It’s hard even for dedicated couch potatoes to find a reasonable excuse!

Set the right goals

You only really get into a fixed training rhythm at around the six month mark. However, motivation is often lacking between the third and sixth months after starting. Therefore, you should also schedule short-term provisional goals into your training plan that are easier to achieve. For example, a half marathon on the way to a full marathon or a little less weight in weight training, but the full number of repetitions. You can read more about this and how you can stick to your goals for good using the “if-then” principle in our interview with Professor Julia Schüler, assistant professor for sport and health at the Institute of Sport Science in Bern.

These tips will help you set the right goals:

  • Set measurable goals, such as a certain distance or time you want to achieve.
  • Even if you have a long-term goal, set milestones for additional motivation.
  • Set realistic goals. In the event of setbacks or injuries, you may need to adjust your goals.
  • Setting yourself a deadline will help you commit to achieving your goal.

Track your progress

Fitness apps, trackers and watches can be used to record distance, measure your heart rate or even guide you along a specific route. There are a wide range of options available – from free apps that run on almost all smartphones to waterproof pulse watches with barometric altitude sensors. Many athletes find it motivating to analyse their data in order to visualise the progress they’re making. In our article on fitness apps, we review a number of the most popular tracking apps for your smartphone.

Find music that motivates you

A British study has proved that listening to music while training really can improve your performance. Researchers found that runners who listen to motivating music run around 15% longer than runners without music. A catchy rhythm of between 125 and 140 beats per minute and a positive, stimulating melody have proven to be ideal. On streaming services such as Spotify, for example, you’ll find a host of preselected workout playlists put together to suit different musical tastes.

Reward yourself for success

A big plate of steak and chips may not be the most suitable reward for successfully finishing a fitness programme, but what about a massage, a new pair of trainers or a new cycling outfit? Setting small, short-term goals combined with rewards is a great way of keeping motivation levels up in the long term.

Train in a group

You don’t need a training buddy to work out in a gym or to go running or cycling. Training alone is a good way for beginners who are unsure about what level they’re at to find their own speed and rhythm without any stress. However, training with other people can provide additional motivation and make a nice change from exercising alone. If you don’t have any friends or acquaintances who want to train with you, you can also find workout buddies online. Runners can find groups on Strava, and many bike shops organise open group rides every week. Or why not take advantage of the trial training sessions offered by many clubs to find out what and where you like to train – without having to sign up as a member right away.

Advantages of training in groups:

  • Fixed, regular training sessions encourage commitment.
  • Fun team competitions encourage you to improve your performance.
  • Sport partners can check you’re doing the exercises properly and help adjust your technique if necessary.
  • Training partners can show you new exercises and thus make your training more varied.
  • And, last but not least, you can talk to your training partner while exercising – as long as the training intensity allows it.

Fitspo: Motivational slogans and pictures

Just like music or a new outfit, many sports people like to be motivated by fitness slogans or pictures. If you’re looking for “fitspiration” or “fitspo” online, you’ll find a lot of pictures with motivational slogans, which you can print out and hang up, for example. Tricks like these can also help against snack attacks: Sticking a photo on the fridge of how you used to look and what you’re aiming to look like again helps you keep sight of your goal and stay strong.

Vary your training

There are many different sports to help improve your fitness. Why should you just stick to one? Especially if you do several training sessions a week, it can be motivating to train in a different discipline at least once a week. For example, if you do a lot of strength training, why not also improve your stamina by running, cycling or swimming. This helps train new muscle groups while giving others time to recover.