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How to stay motivated to exercise

We all struggle with motivation from time to time. If you’re trying to lose weight or get in shape, you may be struggling with how to get motivated to exercise. Getting moving is an important part of weight loss but sometimes we can find ourselves losing interest a few weeks into a new program.

If you’re struggling with how to stay motivated to exercise, read on for some great tips on getting AND staying active.

how to stay motivated to exercise

10 tips for how to get motivated to exercise

1. Set Realistic and Achievable Goals

When determining how to get motivated to exercise, the best answer is to set realistic goals that include clear milestones. The goal doesn’t have to be an organised race or particular event. Maybe it’s a mission to fit into those old jeans buried in your closet or just enjoy more play with the kids.

Wondering how to stay motivated to exercise? Do it by setting a goal, defining it, writing it down and revisiting it daily. Make sure it’s realistic, and you can actually adapt your life around meeting the goal. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up if your goals are too ambitious.

Start with simple goals and then progress to longer-range goals. You might set a short term, intermediate and long term goal, especially if you’ve not exercised for a long time. This could be:

  • Short-term goal: Walk 10 minutes daily, five days a week.
  • Intermediate goal: Walk 30 minutes five days a week.
  • Long-term goal: Complete a 5 km fun run or walk.

Goal setting: How to do it and succeed

2. Make It Fun and Add Some Variety.

how to stay motivated to exercise

If you’re wondering how to stay motivated to exercise, you should try and find workouts that make you forget you’re working out. If you’re struggling with how to get motivated to exercise, you’re likely not enjoying your workouts, so try something different. Find sports or activities you enjoy, then vary the routine to keep it interesting. Make sure you include activities you genuinely enjoy and look forward to doing.

Workout variety also challenges your body in unique ways, which may introduce you to new muscle groups you didn’t even know you had. Consider disciplines that give you more bang for your buck, things like Tai chi and yoga, which serve dual purposes as mental therapy and physical activity.

Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be boring, and you’re more likely to stick with a fitness program if you’re having fun.

3. Make physical activity part of your daily routine and set a time to exercise.

at-home workouts

Some of the most committed exercisers do it every day before the sun comes up or at night when the kids are in bed. Sit down weekly and try to build in an hour each day to be good to your body.

If you convince yourself you’ll fit in a workout sometime after that last meeting, once the kids go down for a nap or when your spouse arrives home on time, failure is inevitable. A last-minute invitation will come along; the weather will foil a bike ride, or the kids won’t nap.

Write your workout on your calendar and rearrange things around this one hour as if it were any other necessary appointment you have to keep.

You can also slip in physical activity throughout the day.

4. Put It On Paper and Keep it Where You Can See It.

how to stay motivated to exercise

Are you hoping to lose weight? Boost your energy? Sleep better? Manage a chronic condition? Writing down your goals will help you with how to get motivated to exercise. Seeing the benefits of regular exercise and writing your goals down on paper may help you stay motivated.

You may also find that keeping an exercise diary is one way to help with how to stay motivated to exercise. Record what you did during each exercise session, how long you exercised and how you felt afterwards. Recording your efforts and tracking your progress can help you work toward your goals and remind you that you’re making progress.

10 ways to get back on track (and stay on track)

5. Get Support from Friends, Family, Neighbours or Others.

how to stay motivated to exercise

You’re not in this alone, and having support will definitely help you search for how to get motivated to exercise. Invite friends or co-workers to join you when you exercise or go on walks. Work out with your partner or other loved ones, even just play with your kids.

When you’re struggling with how to stay motivated to exercise, finding a friend with a shared zest for running and planning scheduled workouts together will help. It’s easy to hit the snooze button when it’s just you, but much harder to leave a friend waiting at the track.

Consider joining a Facebook group like The Healthy Man Support Group to get support from other people trying to lose weight and maintain healthy eating and exercise routines. People who get this kind of online support are proven to lose up to three times more weight than people going it alone because of the motivation and support.

Join The FREE Healthy Man Support Group!

6. Reward Yourself After Hitting All Your Goals Big or Small.

how to stay motivated to exercise

After each exercise session, take a few minutes to savour the good feelings that exercise gives you. This type of internal reward can help you with how to get motivated to exercise.

External rewards can help you in your search for how to stay motivated to exercise. When you reach a longer range goal, treat yourself to a new pair of walking shoes or new tunes to enjoy while you exercise.

It’s surprisingly easy to get excited about exercise when you have a reward planned for yourself at the end of the week. Massage is a great reward or, if massages aren’t your thing, try some other ideas:

  • Buying new workout gear
  • A weekend getaway
  • A new computer game you can only play after exercise

How to build healthy habits

7. Be Flexible, and Don’t Beat Yourself Up.

how to stay motivated to exercise

If you’re too busy to work out or simply don’t feel up to it, take a day or two off. Go easy on yourself if you need a break. It will help you when you’re struggling with how to get motivated to exercise. The important thing is to get back on track as soon as possible.

Making exercise a priority doesn’t mean you need a rigid schedule. Although scheduling your workouts helps, you can still be flexible. A study published in 2020 found that giving yourself the flexibility to meet your goals might help you with how to stay motivated to exercise. More than 2,500 Google employees were randomly assigned to two groups in the study. One group was given a set time to use the office gym that suited them during the workday. The other group was able to use the gym whenever they pleased, still being paid to do so.

The researchers were surprised to find that the people offered the flexibility formed more vigorous habits. It turned out that the flexibility seemed to help with how to get motivated to exercise. The people who’d been given flexibility went more even after the payments ended. When the group on the rigorous and scheduled program missed their planned workout, they didn’t go at all.

8. Change Your Perspective and Shift Your Mindset.

how to stay motivated to exercise

Shifting your thinking from a couch potato mentality to thinking like an athlete is an option in how to get motivated to exercise. This may sound like a big challenge, but it’s not as giant a leap as you think and can actually also help with how to stay motivated to exercise. Once you stop using your busy life as an excuse not to exercise, you might even start viewing exercise as a way to set a strong example for your kids.

Committing to a fitness routine begins in your head, as does finding how to get motivated to exercise. You may think when looking for how to stay motivated to exercise, working out late at night or early in the morning would kill motivation. But suppose you start thinking about workouts at odd hours as a blessing rather than a sacrifice. In that case, you’ll likely stay motivated more.

How to stop making excuses and get results

9. Stop Making Exercise About How You Look.

If your appearance is all you use when looking at how to get motivated to exercise, you’ll likely fail. The moment you stop working out for your physical appearance, you’ll probably become more motivated. When exercise is only about how you look and fall short of your expectations a few times, you just give up.

Instead of focusing on more significant, more elusive goals (hey, six-pack abs), try setting micro-goals that’ll help you celebrate more minor victories along the way, like dropping a clothing size, or nailing a push-up for the first time or running one kilometre without stopping.

Setting and hitting these smaller goals will help you in your search for how to stay motivated to exercise. You should feel fantastic about these accomplishments, and you should tell someone, an instructor or friend and be proud and loud.

10. A Little Friendly Competition Can Light a Fire.

how to stay motivated to exercise

Humans have a competitive nature, so why not use that competitiveness when looking for how to stay motivated to exercise. Whether you’re looking to take home first place or just want to go faster than the person next to you on the treadmill, friendly competition has some significant boosting power.

Even if you’re not a competitive person by nature, finding an individual or group that you can compete with will help with how to get motivated to exercise. Having someone to compete with can be helpful because it’s a team effort, and you likely don’t want to be a quitter. When you’re looking for how to get motivated to exercise or even how to stay motivated to exercise, not being seen as a quitter by others is a strong motivator. And when you team up to compete with someone, there is always the risk that someone will quit…just don’t let it be you.

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