5 Tips for Exercise Motivation
By Jillesa Anderson
May 23, 2018
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
You know you should exercise, but actually putting on your running shoes or showing up to the gym doesn’t seem to happen…day after day. It seems there’s always something more important that needs your attention. Sleep, work, family, friends, checking apps, movies — you name it. Even if you understand that exercise will improve your mood, help you maintain a healthy body weight, and lower your risk for a host of health problems, it can be hard to turn your good intentions into action.
Perhaps you’ve tried to find motivation to exercise in the past with little success. If you’re out of ideas for ways to motivate yourself to work out or need to revisit some techniques you’ve tried in the past, these five tips may help.
One of the greatest indicators of workout success may have more to do with the people around you than the fitness goals you make for yourself. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to keep working out even when you’re feeling unmotivated. Find an accountability partner or friend who inspires you, especially on the hard days. The bonds you form with a workout buddy will help motivate you to keep your exercise routine long past any external rewards.
Want to make exercise more enjoyable? Start with some positive thinking. Exercise isn’t easy, but there are some wonderful benefits you’ll love and start noticing once engaging in a consistent exercise regimen. Maybe you love the time you get to spend outside exercising in the fresh air. Or perhaps you enjoy the relationship you’ve created chatting with your friend after spin class. Focus on the good things and recognize the positive when you find yourself lacking motivation.
No goal is accomplished effectively without personal commitment. When setting a goal write it down and put it in a place where you see it frequently. Make sure your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, reaching and time bound. Some people find it effective to create and sign a personal contract with themselves regarding their commitment. Share your commitment with friends and loved ones.
To recognize the importance of your commitment, set up some rules you follow if you don’t live up to your personal commitment. For example, if you skip a day of cardio, maybe your rule is you don’t allow yourself to watch TV until you’ve made up your cardio session. Whatever it is, push yourself towards your goals and hold yourself accountable.
As you exercise it’s important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Sometimes simply feeling better isn’t always enough motivation to exercise consistently. Recognizing small achievements and having small rewards may help boost your motivation. You held your plank for 5 more seconds today! Tell a friend or loved one about your achievement.
These small successes will help you eventually reach your big goals. As you celebrate your small successes and achieve your goals reward yourself, maybe you’ll get a healthy smoothie with friends afterward, take a long lunch, or let yourself read a book when you’d normally be doing something less enjoyable.
If you think the clothes you wear while working out don’t matter, you may be wrong. Wearing proper workout clothing will not only make working out more comfortable, it’ll also reinforce to yourself that you’re someone who takes time to work out. In a lot of cases, just putting on your exercise clothes may be enough to motivate you. If you want to work out in the mornings, wearing your workout clothing as pajamas might help motivate you to get out of bed and get going.
Exercise can be challenging, but knowing how to motivate yourself will help you maintain the healthy lifestyle changes you’ve adopted, even when you don’t feel like it. The health benefits and how you’ll feel and look over time will be well worth it.
If you’re just starting out on your exercise journey, you may want to consider talking to your doctor about your personal exercise goals before you begin.