Some days I’m fired up, and some days it takes all the willpower and motivation I can find to exercise. Without knowing how to motivate myself to exercise, I would spend a lot more time on the sofa.
Sometimes we just find ourselves bored, uninterested, putting other things first, or just wondering how we ever got involved in this exercise habit in the first place.
Over time, I’ve developed a few methods to keep my workouts at the front of my schedule instead of trying to do them when I feel like it.
How To Motivate Myself To Exercise
You’re no different than the rest of us. At some point, we all come to grips with the fact that our exercise routine is, well, a routine.
Routines are great for mindlessly getting through the same workout week after week. However, routines have some drawbacks.
- Routines can be motivation killers because they become boring
- Your body becomes acclimated to your workouts and stops responding. Instead, muscles learn to merely go through the motions with no new stress points to work for.
- If you’re after weight loss or muscle mass, routines create plateaus. The plateaus are as far as you’ll go without changing something to diversify your exercise.
Here’s how I keep the gym from becoming routine:
- It’s really easy to turn a gym workout into starting at one end of a row of machines and working your way through day after day and week after week. The machines set up in the gym I use are done in such a way that I can go through them in about 40 minutes and work every muscle in my body. But a much better way is to do the upper body one trip and the lower body the next trip.
- If you are using either machines or free weights exclusively: take the boredom and regularity out of your life by including both in your workouts. I know some people who frown on using weight machines, but they are actually great for pinpointing muscles to work on.
Is your cardio boring?
No matter what your workout routine is, you really need to include cardio. You can do cardio at home with cardio equipment—simple jogging in place, running at the track or on the streets, jumping jacks, and the list goes on.
Cardio makes your whole body stronger, gives you more stamina, makes your heart and circulatory system strong and healthy, and is a must if you want to lose weight or keep it off.
Make cardio more fun with these tips:
- If you are a runner, change the time of your your running schedule and the place you’re running.
- When I set one day a week for my own runs to be twice as far as normal, that really keeps me motivated. Now I look at my daily run more like a training session for my Saturday runs.
- Even though I do not listen to anything other than the dogs and my feet striking the ground, you might consider a good set of earbuds for your phone and listen to motivational mp3s.
- If you’re exercising on a treadmill at home, try moving the treadmill to a window or positioning a TV in front of it to stay inspired.
Motivating yourself mentally might be easier if you make up challenges for yourself that help move you out of your routines and comfort zones.
2. Exercise With Friends
If you’re exercising by yourself, workouts get to be a drag pretty quickly, even when you know how often you should be working out.
When I’m down or coming up with a string of excuses to neglect my workout time, there’s nothing like a regular partner to get me moving.
My workout partner is always there to push me over the edge. In fact, sometimes he’s not really in the mood either, but our commitment keeps us both going.
3. Goals Are For Motivation
I consider the sole purpose of goal-setting to be to keep me motivated, don’t you?
The most important thing to remember about goal-setting is to keep it simple and realistic.
Nothing will kill your motivation faster than not reaching unrealistic goals.
If you’ve been running 2 miles a couple of times a week, thinking you should be a marathoner next month, isn’t that real?
Ask yourself these questions as you consider your goals:
- What do I intend to accomplish?
- Is this realistic and something I can do?
- When precisely do I intend to reach this goal?
- What will be my reward for achieving this surmountable task?
Goals unwritten aren’t usually goals at all, so do yourself a favor and make your goal minutely specific, write it on something, stick it somewhere you are reminded to look at it, and review it every day.
4. Motivate Yourself With Rewards
Even the smallest promises of rewards to yourself will keep you going when all else fails.
The size of your reward to yourself depends entirely on your own personality.
I’ve rewarded myself with a new book, while I’ve known other goal-setters to promise themselves a brand new recumbent bike for home use.
The most important thing about using rewards for motivation is to write them down.
Write it down, or even better, pin a picture of it to the refrigerator door.
You want to get yourself to visualizing the reward in your mind while you’re exercising.
5. Friends and Family to Motivate You to Success
Don’t be shy about putting your exercise goals right out there in front of everyone you know.
Telling people close to you exactly what you intend to accomplish will help motivate you simply because you would rather not be known as a failure.
When you share your goals, get as specific as possible about what you intend to accomplish, why, and how.
I’ve even heard of people setting goals and promising a friend $100 if he didn’t accomplish what he set out to do.
Exercise can be a powerful tool for improving both your physical and mental health. So, it’s important to find ways to stay motivated to make it a regular part of your routine. Here are a few additional sources of motivation to consider:
- Health benefits: Regular exercise can help improve your cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and even boost our mood and brain function. These benefits should be powerful motivators to get moving.
- Appearance: For some people, the desire to improve their physical appearance can be a strong motivator to exercise. Whether it’s trying to lose weight, build muscle, or simply feel more confident in your own skin, the changes that come with regular exercise can change your body and appearance.
- Stress relief: Stress is so common these days, that it’s almost considered normal. Exercise can be a great way to relieve day to day stress and improve your mental health.
- Social connections: Exercising with friends or joining a group fitness class can be a fun and to stay motivated while increasing social connections.
- Personal goals: Setting personal fitness goals, such as running a race or lifting a certain weight, can provide a sense of purpose and give you something to work towards.
Ultimately, the key to staying motivated to exercise is to find what works for you and to make it a regular part of your routine. Whether it’s setting specific goals, exercising with friends, or simply finding activities you enjoy, there are many ways to stay motivated and make exercise a sustainable part of your life.