Everyone knows physical fitness is good for our health, but did you know it also helps to to slow the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms? Regular exercise not only improves symptoms of PD, it can also stave off feelings of depression and promote sounder sleep. Those are compelling reasons to exercise more often, right?
Maybe you want to exercise more, but somehow, when it comes to actually doing it, you lack the in-the-moment drive to get up and move. Maybe you’re stressing over what kind of exercise to do or how many minutes of exercise a week you need.
The good news is that any type of regular physical activity will improve your health. In terms of finding motivation, new research suggests more open exercise goals such as “see how active you can be,” vs. “do 150 minutes a week” makes it easier to focus on your achievements rather than getting derailed—and demotivated—by perceived failures.
This rephrasing of goals gives you the opportunity to feel good about finding 15 minutes to take a walk on a busy day as opposed to feeling bad because you walked for only 15 minutes instead of the 30 you scheduled.
Here are four more tips for building motivation:
Treat yourself to a delicious smoothie, a luxurious bath, an hour of Netflix binging or whatever perk appeals to you after a workout. This will retrain your brain to link the reward with the activity and drive your urge to keep up the behavior. Research shows even small rewards increase motivation.
Monitor your progress.
Research shows that when you feel like you’re making progress toward a meaningful goal, you’ll have greater motivation to keep going. Celebrating small successes boosts positive feelings and makes you less likely to give up. Thinking positively about a previous workout will more likely inspire you to make another trip to the gym, according to a 2014 study.
Try new things.
Not only does walking on a treadmill or doing the same weight routine get boring, it may not be as beneficial for people with PD. To help fight symptoms, challenge yourself to try something different. Trying a new exercise sends the brain into learning mode, which helps forge new neural connections that protect against cognitive and motor function declines in PD.
Join a Fitness Group.
10. Join a Fitness Group.
Find a fitness network in your area that will connect you to others with Parkinson’s. Or find a workout buddy to build in accountability. Strong social connections increase immune system function and reduce stress and anxiety in people with chronic diseases, studies suggest they may help stave off depression and enhance day-to-day function in people with PD.