1. Crank up the tunes.

If you’re power-walking, running, or lifting weights, music can improve performance and even make you think the strenuous activity is easier than you otherwise might. Music helps you coordinate your workout. For example, lyrics can reinforce aspects of a technique when they feature words like “punch,” “cut,” or “push.”

The beat of your music can also affect how you synchronize your workout. Look up the beats per minute (BPM) on any song here or listen and tap along to the beat using a BPM calculator. Here are some basic guidelines on which speeds to look for.

  • Warm-ups: 100 to 110 beats per minute
  • Strength exercises: 110 to 120 beats per minute
  • Endurance, speed, and agility exercises: Higher than 120 beats per minute
  • Stretching: 90 to 100 beats per minute

While music can make our workouts more fun, don’t become too dependent on music—or TV—to distract from the exercise. “Sustainable behavior is connected to the experience and if music serves only to distract and tolerate, then no sustainable behavior is established,” he says. “In this case, if that music is removed, there is no reason to exercise.”

2. Head outside.

You probably don’t need science to confirm that a jog through the woods is more enjoyable than pounding away on a treadmill, but exercising outdoors decreases feelings of tension, anger, and depression, while increasing engagement and helping participants feel more energized, research suggests.

But you don’t have to climb the world’s highest mountain to reap the benefits of getting fit outdoors. An hour of hiking burns 530 calories, an hour of snowshoeing 500, and moving your typical run from the treadmill to outside can still burn 780 calories per hour.

3. Be your own cheerleader.

Try leaving yourself notes of encouragement and surrounding yourself with positive people to help inspire and intensify your workouts. Athletes perform better and take longer to reach their exhaustion road block when they see happy faces instead of sad ones, new research suggests. Cyclists were subliminally shown happy and sad faces—in addition to active words, like “go,” and inactive ones, like “stop”—in a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Researchers instructed participants to pedal to the point of exhaustion. Those who saw the positive cues pedaled three minutes longer than those who saw negative ones.

4. Buddy up.

Partnering with a significant other can give your exercise a serious boost. People were five times more likely to exercise if their spouse did, researchers found in a recent study. But you don’t need a romantic partner to help power through a workout. Friends can help you stick to your exercise plans, too. We are social creatures and this helps explain the continued success of group fitness (averaging 28% participation rates), the growth of small group training (almost doubled since 2007), and the almost flat-line growth of one-on-one personal training, according to Comana. “A support system brings camaraderie, collaboration, accountability, and perhaps some friendly competition,” he says.

If you would like to find out more about getting your body into shape, here at The Sheffield College we offer a range of full-time and part-time Sports courses so you’ll be running marathons in no time!