Sorry, You Really Do Have to Get Off the Couch

It’s not what you want to hear — especially in the dead of winter — but working out is a necessary evil.

Couch

We know, we know, the couch is a safe space where you can exist on cheesy chips and streaming binges while ignoring your bothersome real-life responsibilities. But if you plan on having the discipline necessary to follow through on your New Year’s fitness resolutions — and want to avoid becoming a salty couch potato — you need to learn how to get up and go. Leaving your comfy couch behind can feel like abandoning a loved one, and we understand that, but with some advice from our experts, you can manage it just fine.

Use It or Lose It
“Your body is designed to move,” says Toronto-based personal trainer Paul Hynes. “You have over 600 muscles in your body that need movement and loading in order to maintain their function. The best way to prevent sarcopenia — the degenerative loss of muscle mass, quality and strength — from happening is with exercise, especially exercise that loads your muscles.” Still not scared enough to get off the couch? “If you don’t load your skeleton with resistance, bones can lose their density over time, which can contribute to issues like osteoporosis.” Crap, guess you better get started now.

Buddy Up
The best trick is to get by with a little help from your friends. “It’s easier to stay accountable when you know that someone else is on the same journey as you,” says Hynes. “Working out with a friend (or a group) is a great way to build an exercise habit and maintain it even when you don’t really want to.” Plus, having someone you appreciate around can make going to the gym a lot more fun, er, well… bearable.

Choosing the right workout buddy, however, takes thoughtfulness and consideration. As we wrote in a previous article about exercise partners, “A 2012 study found that burning more calories is easier when working out with someone you perceive as better (or stronger), noting that the key to motivation may be feeling inadequate. More recently, a 2016 study found that people with a workout buddy — especially one who’s emotionally supportive — exercise more than those who go at it alone.” Essentially, you want to pick someone who knows what they’re doing and supports what you’re doing.

Kiss Your Tech Goodbye
Phones and TVs are great for many things, but not for getting you off the couch and keeping you focused during a workout. So in order to get active, ditching your unhealthy relationship with your devices is a smart move. “Change your phone screen from color to black and white,” suggests David Greenfield, the founder and medical director for The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction. “Studies have shown that your usage will drop by 30 to 40 percent because the phone becomes much less interesting.” He also recommends turning off notifications, leaving your phone in another room while you sleep and putting it down during meal times, all of which should get you in the habit of leaving your phone behind when you go to exercise.

Today’s the Day
“It’s never too late, but that doesn’t mean you should procrastinate if you can start doing a little exercise every day,” says Hynes. “That could look like taking the stairs instead of the escalator, or going for a 10-minute walk after dinner each day. The key is to start with where you are and do what you can right now, instead of waiting for the perfect time to start.”

So go carpe that diem, my dudes.