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5 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

motivatetoworkoutI understand that I’m one of the lucky few who actually likes to work out. I crave it. I need it. Without, I go a bit batty. But I know that for most of the population, I’m in the minority. Working out is a chore. Another to-do on a looong list of items. Hell, the word “work” is in it. But there are some easy yet specific ways to motivate yourself to exercise. Do these for a few months, and then hopefully you’ll get bitten by the workout-loving bug just like we have! (And once you do, oh, how the world opens up…)

How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

1. Put on your cutest workout apparel and your springiest shoes. Sometimes just putting on the right gear can help you go from workout motivation zero to hero. So put on the good stuff that makes you feel extra cute, and lace up those running shoes. It simply feels weird to just sit around in stuff you’re supposed to move in. So, for us, this simple act actually gets us moving!

2. Set a big freakin’ goal that slightly freaks you out. One way to motivate yourself to exercise? Set a goal that’s big and public. Obviously you want your goal to be reachable (remember those SMART goals?), but you also want it to be one that you can’t procrastinate or slack on. Sign up for a 5K or a longer race like a half or full marathon. Tell your friends, co-workers and family about. Have someone to be accountable to, and it’s amazing the kind of workout-motivation fire you’ll start under your fit bottom!

3. Promise yourself something once you’re done. And we don’t mean chocolate cake! Be sure to give yourself regular non-food rewards like a new magazine, a long, hot bath, a massage—anything that feels good and motivates you. If only big-ticket items get your workout mojo going, pay yourself a dollar or so for every time you hit the gym. Then once you have the money you need to get your reward, you get to go shopping! It’s a total investment in your health and yourself.

4. Set low expectations of yourself. Yeah, so this may seem to contrast with No. 2, but there’s a difference. It’s easy to not want to work out when you think it’s going to be an hour or more of torture. So instead of setting the bar so high that you stop before you even start, tell yourself that you just have to be active for 10 minutes. That’s it: 10 minutes. Then, if you feel like going longer, you can. No pressure though. Nine times out of time (unofficially), you’ll want to keep going.

5. Stop over-thinking it. Sometimes you just have to stop thinking, wondering and playing the mental back-and-forth guilt match of “I so should work out, but I don’t want to!” and just do it instead. Tell your nay-saying brain to hush and work out anyways. As long as you’re not overtraining, you’ll feel better after you work out and those happy endorphins are kicking around.

How do you motivate yourself to exercise? —Jenn

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  1. Linda says:

    My husband and I motivate each other. I have a series of Jillian DVDs that I do, and honestly, shes motivating enough. That and the tone I have achieved with my muscles is dumbfounding!

  2. Kristen says:

    I joined a gym that has super-fun classes (Zumba, Total Body, Dynamic Strength Training) with great instructors. It’s so much easier for me to work up a sweat and push myself when there is great music and a high-energy trainer encouraging me. Also, the classes I go to have a group of regulars who notice if you aren’t there. Accountability is a great tool!

  3. Lynn says:

    I love your advice! So simple and true. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sally says:

    I’m new to blogging but love this site. Keeping weight in balance is my mission,for myself and others. I have lots of information to share, just ask.
    This is my first submission to this blog and I look forward to meeting everyone,eventually. Loosing weight and keeping it off can be fun.I see that some are enjoying Zumba,it’s fantastic.

  5. TS says:

    Before I had a home gym, I went to my school’s gym. Because I had to pay money to join the classes, I attended them. I’m too cheap to let that money go to waste!

    Also, schedule in the workouts. That’s “me time”. Do not talk to me, do not ask me for anything, and no, I will not do your dishes for you during that time. I wouldn’t skip a doctor’s appointment I made, and this is even more important, since it’s preventative.

  6. Dorie says:

    When I find myself trying to get out of a workout, I try and imagine how regretful and sluggish I feel when I skip a workout, and also imagine the amazing feeling after a workout. That’s all it takes for me to get my butt up and turn on my Jillian DVD 🙂

  7. Joy says:

    Signing up first for a 10 mile race this spring, and then a marathon this fall, did the trick for me! I think I’ll have to keep a marathon a year on my calendar so I keep it up. If I survive. 🙂 I still am bad at doing any cross-training (including strength-training), so my goal is to concentrate on that during my post-marathon break from running, and try to make that into a habit. Hopefully I can keep from devolving back into a couch potato over the winter until time to train for the 10 miler rolls around again!

  8. Cathy says:

    I think the big, public goal is the key for me… I started running this year and began with a 5K – all my friends knew I was training for it and lots of them showed up to cheer me on. Now I’m a week away from a half marathon… again – I told my friends, oodles of them signed up to do it with me and in order to finish, (and not embarrass myself to tears) I HAD to train. It forces me to get out there.

  9. Erwin Brady says:

    I think reasons numbers 4 and 5 would help me the most. Those touch on why I don’t work out even though I bought enough gear to do something. That way I can either do that much, or better in time.

  10. Gillian says:

    For me, motivation is mostly short-term. I need to make a better decision in the next five minutes which is why I particularly liked number 4. When I was approaching my first weight loss goal, I would use a low expectation of losing 1 or 2 more pounds, rather than trying to psyche myself up to lose another 10 or 15. Manageable goals help make the big-a** goals achievable.

  11. Talia says:

    These tricks really worked for me, but I also used a different trick. When I’m feeling lazy and watching a TV show, every time some character says or does a certain thing, I have a certain exercise (push-ups, stretches) to go with it. I do love the second trick, it’s very effective because I always want to achieve my goals.

  12. Love these tips! Especially the one about not rewarding yourself with food – you’re not a dog!

    I always try to end each workout on a high note. I used to teach swim lessons, and I found that the #1 way to help kids get over the big scary pool was to make sure they were smiling when they left. It always kept them coming back. I do the same thing with my workouts, and it always keeps me coming back too :)!

  13. Nessie says:

    Leave workout clothes everywhere you spend time! Your work, your car, home, boyfriends house, everywhere! It’s easy to workout if you have everything you need right there!

  14. Jen says:

    A fun and upbeat workout music playlist is a sure-fire way to get me to work out and KEEP me workin’ out, hard! Especially if you really et into it

  15. Debi says:

    I lack motivation to work out. I could use a little help. I would love to loose 60 lbs.

  16. I just love these ideas. Whenever I overthink about exercising and in the end I end up doing nothing. This is very frustrating at times. I just try to move myself a bit more like using stairs instead of elevators, walking to the grocery store.

  17. wonderful and very informative article. Every point you cover in it is helpful.

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