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Boost Your Workout With These Fun Strategies

By Kara Mayer Robinson
WebMD Magazine - Feature

Time flies when you're having fun. It can zoom by when you're exercising, too. Simple tricks can make workouts feel easier so you can last longer, recent studies suggest. Those findings, plus insights from Scott L. Danberg, director of fitness at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami, can help keep you from throwing in the towel too soon.

You can do it. During your next workout, tell yourself, "I feel fantastic!" or "I'm doing a great job." Positive self-talk during exercise can make you feel like you're exerting less effort and bolster your performance, a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests. Repeat the mantra over and over while you work out. Reminding yourself of the benefits from exercise, such as stronger muscles or more pep and energy, can also make your motivation soar, so you stick with it longer, Danberg says.

Turn up the beat. Another study found that people worked harder and enjoyed exercise more when listening to fast-tempo tunes.

Load your playlist with whatever pumps you up, whether it's pop, hip-hop, or marching music, Danberg says.

You've got a friend. Recruit a friend or invite your family to hit the gym or run with you. Chat with a walking partner, play tennis with your spouse, or shoot hoops with colleagues -- these things can also make your workout time fly. Plus, it lowers the odds that you'll ditch your workout. "We're more likely to crawl out of bed if a friend is waiting for us on the street corner," Danberg says.

Don't forget Fido. Dog owners who walked with their furry friends logged more time walking and were more physically active than non-dog walkers, a study in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health shows.

Go in bursts. When you're exercising for less time, it's easier to work out harder, Danberg says. If your goal is 40 minutes of exercise, a moderate pace will help you last. But if your goal is 20 minutes, you can pick up the pace and it won't matter if you get fatigued more quickly. Vigorous exercise gives you the same health benefit in half the time.

More Research on Workout Boosters

Sip caffeine. A recent study found that men who drank a caffeinated energy drink an hour before working out felt better and lasted longer during resistance training. Sip an energy drink with 179 milligrams of caffeine (or drink two 8-ounce cups of coffee) 60 minutes before your next workout.

Put up a mirror. Another study found that treadmill runners who watched themselves in a mirror used oxygen more efficiently and ran better than those who didn't. Try hanging a mirror in front of your treadmill.

Slurp a cold drink. One study found that in hot, humid weather, cyclists who drank a cold beverage before and during exercise felt less strain and lasted longer. Before your next hot-weather workout, grab a cold drink -- about 40 F -- before you gear up.

Reviewed on March 04, 2014

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