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How to Stay Motivated to Exercise

Staying motivated can feel impossible at times. Yet it’s something we require to achieve anything significant. Exercise particularly requires motivation, especially when you’re working out at home.

The good news is, there’s plenty of ways to keep yourself motivated. You can find some common methods here: Master the Mental Challenge of Exercise – 20 Motivational Tips.

But sometimes we need something extra to find our motivation. Discover 10 more tips on how to stay motivated and unlock your determination!

How to stay motivated to exercise

1. Set a Target Date

Like a business, you need an objective and deadline. If you start blindly, you could find your fitness constantly yo-yoing. Add some aching muscles and you’ll be ready to throw in the towel.

Time can feel everlasting, but with a looming deadline, every day suddenly becomes more important. By setting a target date for your fitness, you have a specific time frame to work with. Every day is now a stepping-stone towards your fitness goal.

Use a significant event for your target date: your next birthday, family reunion, a friend’s wedding etc. If you don’t have an upcoming event, make up your own – plan a holiday or host a party.

Yesterday you said tomorrow

Set a reasonable date for a realistic goal. Don’t aim to lose 10 kilos in 3 weeks or you’re setting yourself up to fail. Keep your goals simple and you’ll avoid disappointment. Choose a date in the distant future to give you time to work towards it.

Don’t focus your goals solely around a number on the scales. Go for goals like fitting into a certain dress, losing your double chin or toning your arms. Wearing your favourite dress to a special function can be a great motivation to work towards.

 2. Turn Your Workouts into Cash

How to stay motivated to exercise - dollars

Did that grab your attention?

I’m not talking about setting up an entrepreneur business. However, there are apps that offer cash incentives.

Or try something simple, like putting aside a couple of dollars every time you workout. Treat it like a reward for your efforts.

Your brain will eventually make a subconscious connection with the pleasure of money. In a couple of months, you can buy yourself something decent and your purse never felt a thing.

If you’re looking for more fruitful motivation, try these methods:

  • Apps like Achievement;connect with other apps and earn points for doing activities, logging meals and answering questions. Once you’ve reached 10, 000 points, you can redeem it as cash or donate it to a charity. This app contributes to prospective studies for medical journals.
  • Mapmyfitness is an app from Under Armour. They have fitness challenges where you can complete with other members and win prizes.
  • Check out fitness trainers in your local area that create videos. Sometimes they’re looking for people of a variety of fitness levels for their videos.



3. Keep Your Gear in Constant Sight

Know that guilty feeling when you’re not doing something you should? Use it to your advantage. Let it be your reminder when you’re tempted to skip a workout for a Netflix binge.

Keep a pair of dumbbells on your coffee table or next to your TV as a visual reminder.

The reason our brains try to avoid guilt is to encourage cooperation. It was a natural instinct in primal times to survive within a tribe. It’s just as important today.

Stick to your workouts to avoid that guilty feeling. Even a small workout is better than none.

4. Have a ‘Cruisy’ Back-up Routine

It’s good to switch up your workout routines so your body remains challenged. However, what I’m referring to here is more about motivation.

I’ve found it useful to have a back-up plan for the days I’m really not motivated to do my usual workouts. This is my ‘Cruisy’ routine, which involves exercise disguised as leisure activity. This way, you’re still moving. It can be anything:

  • Bike rides
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Badminton
  • Walking the dog
  • Dancing
  • Canoeing/kayaking
  • Surfing/Body-boarding
  • Hiking
  • One-on-one basketball
  • Playing with the kids (handball, frisbee etc.)
  • Playing Interactive games on the WII Fit

Having a cruisy back-up plan breaks the monotony of your typical routine. It gives your body a change and keeps you active on your “day off.”

5. Find Pleasures that Don’t Involve Food

The biggest challenge for exercise motivation (or anything for that matter) is changing your mindset.

The more you associate exercise with pleasure, the less your brain will resist it. Activating the pleasure centre in our brains drives us to seek more pleasure by repeating the same behaviour.

Rewarding yourself for your efforts is a well-known trick. But you don’t want to be rewarding yourself with anything that can undo it all.

Aim for other ways, like relaxation (bubble baths), pampering (massages), broadcasting (social media) or retail therapy.

>> Check out 65 Brilliant Ways to Reward Yourself Without Food<<

6. Make a Bet with a Friend

There’s a lot to be said about being accountable for your actions. Sharing your fitness goals with others can certainly help. But most people won’t give you a hard time if you stop, because we all know what it’s like to struggle.

When you have a consequence for stopping, however, that can motivate you to keep going. The trick is to choose something unbearable.

Make a bet with a friend that you’ll stick to your fitness regime for 3 months. If you quit, you have to do something gross like eat a can of cat/dog food. Keep a tin in your kitchen and read the label every time you feel like quitting. By the time you’ve reached the end of your 3-month pact, you’ll be hooked on your new lifestyle.

7. Set Yourself Mini Challenges

Break your exercise into small challenges. It can help keep you going and push you even further.

E.g. instead of doing a full 60 minutes cardio, introduce other challenges and break it all down:

  • 5 minutes warm up
  • 20 minutes weights
  • 10 minutes core exercises
  • 15 minutes cardio
  • 10 minutes cool down

Treat each activity as a mini challenge. You can break it down many different ways, incorporating any exercise you want. It keeps things interesting and less daunting.

Other mini challenges:

When you’ve almost finished 20 sit-ups, add three more. See how many you can complete by the end of the week! Or increase your jogging route by one block.

8. Get Some Active Wear You Feel Good Wearing

There’s truth in the saying “If you look good, you feel good.” And it works just the same vise-versa. This is what makes exercise fun.

You feel pumped from the endorphins from your workout, the feel of your body toning – and you can wear trendy outfits that boast your accomplishments.

There’s so many chic fashions now that provide both comfort and style. Whether you like Lycra tops or Yoga Flare pants, there’s something for everyone. Owning active wear you look forward to wearing will help motivate you to get going.

via GIPHY

9. Pump Up the Jams

Did you know that music can make a big impact on your exercise?

A study by the American Psychological Association tested the effects of music on exercise with 17 active males and females. Treadmill trials were performed with and without music.

Results showed that participants exercised more intensely with music, and felt good. Not only that, they recalled the music session as more pleasurable, confirming the positive influence music can have on exercise.

Other studies indicate exercise is performed more effectively when done in time to music. So it’s best to stick to a quick beat!



10. Introduce A New Healthy Food Each Week

Healthy eating sounds bland and boring, but the benefits you get from it are extraordinary.

Eating more vegetables doesn’t just give you more energy, it curbs your appetite as it’s slow to digest. It kills sugar cravings, sometimes even alcohol urges. Introducing a healthy menu is key to your overall health and weight loss.

If you make a drastic change overnight, you may struggle to stick with it. Your brain could feel deprived; searching for the sugar hit it’s used to getting. But if you eat healthy food, you will say goodbye to insulin spikes and energy crashes.

The trick is to add new foods bit by bit (or ‘bite’) and it’ll feel less tedious. Start with carrots sticks in your sandwich, oats instead of cereal, a new vegetable with dinner, or using wraps instead of bread.

As you reclaim your energy, you’ll learn to look at healthy food in a new light, and want to explore new things.

>>Need ideas? Supercharge your workouts with these foods that boosts energy<<

The Best Time is Now

Start your changes today! Implement these tips on how to stay motivated, and you’ll see changes in your behaviour that lead to results.

Mindset is the biggest contender to any change in your life. Be sure to subscribe for my upcoming post: 10 Secrets to Changing Your Mindset.

Do you have a motivation tip to share? Leave a comment and help others reach their potential!

HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED TO EXERCISE – 10 USEFUL TIPS

10 thoughts on “HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED TO EXERCISE – 10 USEFUL TIPS

  • June 30, 2019 at 4:00 am
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    The only reason why I don’t work out is exactly this; not being motivated. Placing cash aside for every workout and in a way making a saving is a great way to start. Making a bet with a friend is like a challenge for me; which would keep the word “workout” in the back of my head. Great tips. 

    Reply
    • July 2, 2019 at 9:08 am
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      Motivation can be challenging for sure. I’m glad you found this helpful, all the best with it Linda! (Buy something cool with your workout savings). Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  • June 30, 2019 at 4:11 am
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    Timely article CJ,

    I was just starting back my jogging routine 2 weeks ago which was going well but when I wanted to go out again, I lost my motivation and felt really lazy to go. Making exercise as a pleasure, that’s brilliant! I loved hiking and trails, I think I should go out tomorrow morning and reward myself! 😀

    Reply
    • July 2, 2019 at 9:10 am
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      Cheers Riaz, glad you found it helpful 🙂 Motivation can be challenging, but rewards sure help. Enjoy your hike!

      Reply
  • June 30, 2019 at 4:23 am
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    These are some very solid tips on how to stay motivated to exercise. The 10 each are ones that really do work, as I have used some of my friends have used them. Between us all, every one of these has been put to the test and they work. It can be hard to stay motivated, I think we can all agree on that.

    We do need to get that time in though, so if using one or more of these 10 tips will help, why not get started with them today. I know that without something, the chances that you will fall off the wagon are increased (for most people). The hardest part is getting started. Then sticking to whatever regimen can slow or stop your progress, and you can easily slip back into doing nothing.

    For me personally, I have found that eating more whole foods, setting mini-challenges, and music has done the trick. I am a retired military guy, so exercise on a routine basis is not a big leap for me. Nonetheless, it is true that adding just a bit of help here and there can help! 

    Using a combination of these tips plus steeling yourself to not accepting backsliding, and sticking with that determination over time means that regular exercise will a part of your routine. That is the goal, and you have provided some tools that will help everyone get to that point. Thanks!

    Reply
    • July 2, 2019 at 9:11 am
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      Hi Dave, thanks for sharing your experiences! It’s always great to hear how these tips work so successfully. I couldn’t agree more, the hardest part is getting started. Motivation can be tricky, but like you I found good nutrition, mini-challenges and music most effective. For sure, determination is the key, and once exercise becomes routine motivation comes easier. I’m glad you feel this will be helpful for others, thanks for reading!

      Reply
  • July 7, 2019 at 7:24 pm
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    Hi CJ, this post has been helpful as usual! I was struggling with motivation in my workouts but I found a strategy that has been working for me. It’s similar to your #7 as my issue is the workout time seems too long so I tell myself, I can do 10m and stop but at least I’ve done something. However, once I press Play on the workout, I keep going right to the end so it’s been a win/win as the idea of a few minutes workout is enough to get me moving and once I’m moving, it’s easy to continue so I do. I see #6 as a possible one to try in terms of the consequence being something gross as I can definitely see the yucky alternative making me jump up and move. I think I need to go get a can of dog food this week lol. Lastly, #4 is one that I do as well but didn’t think of it as motivational but I guess it is. What is your go-to in this season?

    Reply
    • July 9, 2019 at 3:16 am
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      Hi Tamika, glad you found it helpful! Mini-challenges can make all the different, can’t they? It’s exactly as you say, its easy to keep going once you press play on the workout. Gotta love a win-win! #6 can definitely be effective too lol. My cruisy back-up routine makes all the difference. It keeps the momentum going without feeling like a chore. It keeps the muscles moving in different ways and the body stretched. I also love it because it encourages me to get out of the house for a change. I apply all these methods as I find a combination most effective. All the best keeping up your motivation! Thanks for reading 😊

      Reply
  • July 20, 2019 at 6:06 pm
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    These tips are so helpful! Lately, I have really found myself struggling to find motivation. The other day I told my husband to force me to go to the gym when I didn’t feel like it, unfortunately, he followed through with this and I threw a fit, marched up the stairs and threw on my gym clothes, giving him the stink eye the whole time. lol this method worked, but its not worth my husband’s sanity, sooo these are great alternatives.

    I love the idea of buying new work out clothes, this has worked for me in the past, when I buy a new tank top or leggings, I feel so confident and can’t wait to go show it off at the gym, crazy how that works, I also love the idea of having a back up plan.

    My husband and I love to play tennis, so when I am not feeling like going to the gym, we go play tennis instead, that gets us out of the house and helps us stay active, and boy oh boy is it a workout!

    These are some awesome ideas that really work, thanks for the great post:)

    Reply
    • July 26, 2019 at 2:04 am
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      Hi Madysen, so glad you found this helpful. We all need a little push sometimes (or shove lol). Hopefully this will give you some more ideas and save your hubby’s sanity! New gym clothes can feel great and add to performance. I’m all for back-up plans, and tennis is on my list too. Mind you, I spend more time running after the ball than hitting it, but it’s definitely a workout! Thanks for dropping by.

      Reply

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