9 Little Tricks That Make Working Out A Lot Easier

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I am not a morning person, but a few times a week, I make myself a morning exerciser. It's the only way I'm guaranteed to fit in my runs. A couple weeks ago, I was too darn tired to wake up early to run, so I decided I'd do it during the workday instead. I packed up my gym bag with my running clothes, then scrambled around the hall closet looking for travel size toiletries and a towel; packed a change of clothes (going over my mental checklist of underwear, socks, deodorant, oh yeah and a hairbrush), and headed to the office with a mental plan to run and shower during lunchtime.
I realized that by the time I packed up all my stuff, I could have been well into my run—or even finished a short workout (since 10 or 15 minutes of exercise is always better than none). And even with the best intentions—and a supportive work environment that encourages exercise—I never found the time to sneak away to run (let alone shower afterward). Before I knew it, my day was over, and my plans to exercise were foiled.
I enjoy exercising and make it part of my daily life—yet even I have trouble getting to it all the time. So I can only imagine how much harder it is for someone who doesn't like it and isn't quite in the habit. The whole scenario got me thinking about all the little things I do that have a big impact on my ability to stick with my exercise plans.
If you're having trouble sticking with an exercise routine, the most common excuses for skipping it revolve around lack of time, poor priorities, and motivation. These nine little things will help you tackle hurdles in all of those categories.
Keep your gym bag packed.
This is especially important if you exercise at the gym on your way to work or during your workday. Keep a checklist inside your bag of all the items you need to pack each day to prevent yourself from forgetting crucial items. Invest in a large gym bag with room for your clothes, and spend a little extra money to buy set of travel size toiletries that always remain inside your bag. A second hairdryer (or whatever other accessories you might need) could be worth the cost if it means "I forgot my hairdryer" will no longer be an exercise excuse for you to skip the gym over lunch.
Join a gym en route to work.
It's pretty hard to skip the gym when you have to drive by it on your way to work or your way home each day. For that reason, I've always joined whatever gym is literally on the way. Since time is an issue for me (isn't it for everyone?), it's way too easy to drive home rather than driving out of your way to a gym—especially if you're not that motivated. Joining a gym that is easy to get to is one of the best excuse busters around.
Give your goal a deadline.
Sign up for a race (like our Virtual 5K this fall!), and your motivation to stick with your training will stick around—I promise. Even if you're not a runner or a walker, you can sign up for other events or competitions in weight lifting, biking, Crossfit (for all you Crossfitters out there)—you name it. Or if a little competition doesn't do it for you, set a real date for your fitness goals and tell everyone you know about it. If you tell all your co-workers or family members that you're going to be able to do 100 pushups or 15 pull-ups by January, they'll keep you accountable.
Invest in your fitness.
If you're financially savvy and get a high from getting a bang for your buck, then buy some fitness-related items to keep you motivated and on-track. Purchase a 30-day pass to a yoga studio, some new workout clothes, a high-tech fitness device (more on that below), or a gym membership contract, then make sure you are getting the most for your money. Going to the gym just once a month may mean that each visit costs you $50—and that's not a good buy. (My father-in-law actually likes to joke about how much each of his gym visits cost him since he rarely goes.) Why not see how low you can bring your per-use cost down to by using it more often? Go five times a week and that brings it to just $2.50 a visit—talk about a good deal! Those $80 workout pants are pricey when you only wear them to bed, but wear them once a week to the gym for a year, and their per-use cost is about $1.50—a good buy!
Keep your equipment accessible and visible.
I like to keep my home clean and de-cluttered, but one thing I like to do on occasion is place small piece of fitness equipment in a visible place in my house. For a few weeks, it serves as reminder to use my equipment. When I first bought my kettlebell, I kept it in the living room. And every time I walked past it, I would do 10-20 kettlebell swings with it. Think about what else you could do: a pair of dumbbells in the hallway; a resistance band in your home office; and a stability ball in the family room could all be cues to drop and give yourself 5 minutes of exercise on the fly!
Become a morning exerciser.
Morning exercise works. Let me repeat that: Exercising in the morning is one of the best ways to stick to a routine. Even with the best intentions, life gets in the way of your desire to squeeze in a workout. Anyone—even you—can wake up 15 minutes earlier to squeeze in a 15-minute workout (especially when you sleep in your workout clothes).
Dress for the part.
It's hard to say no to a workout when you're dressed for the part. Whether you do it in the morning, during the day, or after work, make sure the first thing you do in preparation for your workout is get fully dressed for it. You'll feel those excuses melt away, especially if you're like me and won't lie down on a couch (or a bed) with shoes on, and/or don't like wearing shoes inside the house.
Make rewards fun and surprising—and let your friends help.
Self-imposed "rewards" have never worked for me. If I want something, I'll generally just get it and feel like I deserve it. Withholding my own money for a reward I want doesn't really motivate me to follow through with something. I figured that rewards would never be part of my health or fitness plan, but was glad to leave them to others for whom they do work. Then I saw a SparkPeople member blog about rewards that totally changed my perspective. The member gave several of her friends an "allowance" to buy her a surprise gift. Then she wouldn't receive/open the gift until she reached her next milestone (which was pounds-lost in this case, but could be anything really). Now this is a fun and exciting way to reward yourself if you have trouble sticking with a self-reward structure.
Get tech-y with it.
Certain fitness gadgets inspire people to move: a pedometer, the FitBit, the BodyBugg, even a heart rate monitor. Since these track your calorie burn, they can serve as inspiration to get moving more to up your burn. When I bought my Garmin Forerunner, it totally changed my attitude about running from something I did to something I loved—and I'm not even a gadget person. These external cues and reminders to move may be all you need to get off your rear.
What "little" things make it a lot easier for you to exercise? Do you use any of the small tricks above? How have they worked for you?

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FERRETLOVER1 9/13/2020
I make it an automatic part of my morning routine, like brushing my teeth - every morning at just about the same time. Works for me. Report
RACHAEL2020 8/14/2020
Exercise for me in the morning is essential. Report
CD25985725 7/15/2020
thanks Report
MNABOY 7/12/2020
Thanks for sharing Report
RYDESKS 7/4/2020
I have tried so many times to exercise in the morning. It just doesn't work for me. Maybe when I retire? Report
Some great ideas to fit into my program. Report
Great-thanks. Report
USMAWIFE 6/21/2020
thank you Report
MUGABI123 4/10/2020
Great ideas! Report
PORTIA70 1/8/2020
Excellent tips. I think that I will add a few of these to my notes Report
JELLO965 12/31/2019
I'm definitely not a morning person, but it's absolutely possible to do a workout in the morning at or close to home, if you have 20-30 minutes, in whatever clothes are comfy and safe, and then shower before going to work. Exercising with a workout video, using equipment at home if you have it, jumping rope, taking a brisk walk... no gym required. I'm still not a morning person, but I know it's only my mindset that's the obstacle when I don't work out in the morning. Report
PLATINUM755 10/29/2019
Thanks! Report
GOLFGMA 10/19/2019
I like morning exercise and these are great tips! Report
GREEN_EYES2 10/12/2019
Great article! Report
great article Report
Thanks Report
Great article! Report
good ideas Report
For me what helped is the gym I'm a member at (Anytime Fitness) has a personal training program attached to it and they keep you on track by helping you with workouts, keep you accountable for those workouts you miss and give you advice on other aspects of you fitness life. It's a great support system. Plus you work out with people who have the same goals as you do too! Report
Interesting Report
Great article! Report
Great article! Report
Thank you for sharing! Great tips! Report
What helped me was a little gadget called a GymBoss, an interval timer. You can set two intervals to repeat as many times as you like. I use it for weight training and for run/walking. For example, I set it to time 20 seconds of effort, 10 seconds of rest 8x for a total of 4 minutes of exercise. It's very hard to tell you yourself that you can't do 4 minutes of exercise! I keep my free weights in the kitchen so I see them and think about exercise. Once you do one set, well it's 100% easier to do 2. Now I usually do 8 rounds for 32 minutes of weight lifting; sometimes if I'm in a hurry, I'll do 4 in the am and 4 in the pm. I can do them in my pjs, or my work clothes or whatever I have on. I peruse all the exercise suggestions on Spark and change up what I do. I have become a much more willing and consistent weight trainer with the Gymboss (I think it's about $15-20). I also use it for walk running, again about 8 rounds of intervals, say 1 minute walking 3 minutes jogging x 8. It gives you a little beep or buzz or both. With the Gymboss minding your reps, you can focus on your form, and the little beep keeps you going. Knowing the effort part is only 30 seconds or 3 minutes makes you work as hard as you can. You don't have to keep looking at your watch or guesstimating. Report
Getting into the habit of morning workouts can be challenging. However, I found that after forcing myself to get up and exercise early for a couple of weeks, I started naturally waking up early! My metabolism readjusted to anticipate being energetic in the morning, and that increased energy level stayed with me through the day. Report
Having an accountability partner helps me. We don't even work out together, just talk every day or 2. Always talk about what classes or home exercise, and if we tracked it and our food. Report
Enjoyed reading article. My livingroom has fitness equipment in it. Report
Great article Coach Nicole! I especially liked Tip # 8 about friends surprising us with gifts that we gave them $ for! Cool idea for a non food reward! Report
As it is getting darker later and earlier, I will be excercising a little bit later in the morns.
Great tips. When I get to my 1st 50 lbs which is 2 more lbs my friend and I are going shopping for 1 new outfit. I have been buying my downsizing clothes at Goodwill. From a size 24 to size 16 is just too expensive for new clothes every time. Report
I'm not a morning person. I usually practice yoga in the evening and run at night. Here is a guide about the right time for yoga.
https:// www.etoplus.com/Blog-When-is-the-be

It makes me feel exhausted but I can fall into sleep faster with fewer dreams. Report
Interesting and informative article. Report
Thank you for these great tips, Coach Nicole! Report
Great tips, thanks! Report
thanks for sharing Report
Good plan Report
I enjoyed this article very much. Report
thanks Report
Amazing what little things can do to help you get moving. Report
I'm totally not a morning person either, but I've lately started forcing myself to go to bed a little earlier and get up and walk/run 3 times a week, and it's been so much easier to stick to than working out in the evening like I used to. It's just way too easy for me to find excuses at night - "I'm starving, I need to eat first", "Oh, I need to let my food settle first", "oh, now it's too close to bedtime..." and it's ridiculously easy for me to get caught up reading or something and suddenly look up and it's 10pm. I'm going to try and stick to mornings as best I can. Get it done with first so I don't have to worry about it the rest of the day. Report
Gym bag always packed and on hook by kitchen doir! Report
good shoes I find are so important! Report
great! Report
Great article! Report
Two things: retirement helps me to LOVE morning exercise and second - getting a dog means you'll take a morning walk. Report
All good ideas! Report
I spent the first 4.5 years after my bypass surgery making excuses why I could not find time to exercise. I led for work at 5:30 a,m. and got home at 5 p.m. I was a teacher and it was hard work because it was my passion and it exhausted me. Then in April of 2016, I had my 2nd knee replacement surgery and I said, "I'm done!" I retired in June and it was the best thing I could have done. For the 1st time in 40 years I am putting me first and I am losing my 19 pound regain and I will make my goal. I wish I could have found this "me" years ago and I encourage you to find the time now, not 40 years later. The article gives great advice. Stop making excuses and start taking care of you first! Report
I never was a morning exerciser but now with our dog I get a 20 minute or so walk when I wake up. Nice way to start the day!
Truthfully for me, retiring was what made morning exercise easy and a non negotiable part of each day. Report