A personal trainer may be able to whip your muscles into shape, and a psychologist can help you work through your body image issues. But if you struggle to stay motivated to exercise, a few sessions with a sports psychologist may offer the most bang for your buck. Sports psychology is a specialized field that focuses on how to improve athletes’ well-being, training, and performance from an emotional and mental standpoint.
As the saying goes, a large part of success is simply showing up. Yet some days just lacing up your sneakers can feel like a chore. Sports psychologists understand this; it’s something they even deal with themselves from time to time. We asked 4 of them to reveal their top tips for sticking with an exercise regimen despite feeling tired, pressed for time, or (enter your excuse here).
“I always exercise first thing in the morning so that nothing else in my day will interfere with my ability to get the workout in,” says Jennifer Farrell, PhD, a school counselor and sport psychology consultant at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, MN. Not a morning person? Make it easier on yourself by gathering everything you’ll need the night before.
Remember that sometimes it’s not just about you! “I think about my dog’s need for physical activity, too, and that helps me stick to my running schedule,” says Amanda J. Visek, PhD, an associate professor in the department of exercise and nutrition sciences at The George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. No dog? Find a gym buddy or a running partner; you’re less likely to bail if someone is waiting for you. (Here are 5 ways to start a walking group.)