Five Foolproof Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

shorter workouts 300x226 Five Foolproof Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise


Does this sound like you?

You do your best to fit exercise into your busy schedule. And most of the time, you enjoy it. It takes away your stress. It makes you feel strong. And you know it’s good for you.

But there’s no doubt about it: we all have those days when it sounds better to curl up on the couch and not move for days than to throw on our exercise clothes and work out.

Maybe you’re sore from the previous day’s workout. Maybe you’re tired. Or maybe you’d just plain rather be doing something else.

Whatever the reason, those are the days when we all need that extra little push to get us off our butts and into our training gear.

So how do you motivate yourself to exercise when you feel anything but?Ca

Here are five of my favorite ways:

1. Put the play back in exercise

You don’t have to endure the punishment of a stuffy, windowless gym in order to get a good workout in. Learn how to add play back in your life, and working out will no longer feel like a chore.

Here are a few ideas of how you can play more:

  • Go exploring (outside). There’s nothing like mother nature to get you in the spirit of being a kid again. Run, jump, climb, play.
  • Take up a new sport. You’ll have so much fun learning, you’ll forget you’re actually exercising. Stand up paddle boarding, mountain biking, and kickboxing are just a few ideas.
  • Play video games. You heard me right: the Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect both have game options that will get you playing and moving. My favorite are the Wii Sports games and the dancing games (even though I’m terrible at them!).

The key is to get moving and have fun—and you won’t even notice you’re sneaking in exercise!

2. Make it short

You don’t have to do long, boring cardio or spend hours lifting weights in the gym in order to get fit. If you’re short on time, or just aren’t feeling up to a long workout, you can do some high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Since HIIT workouts are quick (most take no more than 10 to 20 minutes to complete), you may feel a lot more motivated to do them since you know they’ll be over before you know it.

Because everyone has an extra 10 or 20 minutes in their day, right?

Just remember—for HIIT to be effective, you have to work as hard as you can!

3. Get an accountability buddy

Whether it’s a workout buddy, your significant other, or an online community (such as the ever awesome MizFitOnline community!), having someone you can report your progress to is the single best way to keep motivated and on track with your workouts.

Because when someone else holds you accountable, you’ll be much less likely to blow off a workout you’ve previously committed to than if you’re the only one keeping track.

4. Keep track of your progress

Keeping track of your progress is one of the best motivators around, especially when you feel like you’re in a rut.

Start a workout journal—either a physical paper one or an electronic notepad of some sort will work—and keep it somewhere handy so you’ll easily be able to record your progress.

Even better, write down a list of your health and fitness goals and revisit them now and again to make sure you’re staying on track.

5. Change your mindset

If you want to stay motivated in the longterm, you need to completely reframe your idea of exercise.

Rather than thinking of working out as a temporary solution to lose weight, start viewing it as a longterm goal to live a longer, healthier life—one where you can keep up with your kids and grandkids and stay healthy and mobile into old age.

When you do that, working out becomes a privilege, not a chore—and there’s no better motivator than that.

Get motivated today

Don’t let your excuses stop you from living the healthy and fit life you want.

Get motivated to work out today, and reap the benefits for years to come.

“The only workout you’ll ever regret is the one you didn’t do.” – Unknown

Krista Stryker gets people motivated on her blog, 12 Minute Athlete, where she posts free awesome high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts and fitness tips 5 times a week. Get more from Krista on Twitter or Facebook.


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  1. says

    I find that the days I tell myself I will only do a short run or walk, it ends up being much longer. It just feels good once you start. The starting is the hardest part.

  2. says

    Love this article , Carla. I walk outside almost every day with my camera. I take my animal and plant photos and post to project Noah . Org. I never have to force myself to go out. Since its so fun and I get both exercise and time to do my hobby, I always go. Exercise has been a key part of my weight maintenance success. Walking is awesome for low injury and clears my mind.

  3. cheryl says

    I have always looked forward to WHATEVER it is I GET to do at 5 a.m. before I head to work…
    Half IM number seven coming up….no problem staying “motivated”-it’s just part of the day, part of my life and after 40 years of getting up and out the door, soooooo easy!

  4. says

    I agree with everything. Especially with no 4: Keep track of your progress.
    Seeing your progress really is highly motivating!
    Tracking yourself should become a habit and measuring & fitness tests should be done regularly.
    What could be better than actually seeing yourself improving!

  5. says

    Make it play is my favorite tip! Running is play for me… I fit in weights because I know I need to balance it all out, but it’s not as much fun. Maybe I need to use the buddy tip for that piece.
    Great post!

  6. says

    It is 100% true that making exercise a game is more effective than taking it as a punishment. I have been getting a better shape with even moderate and regular exercise.

  7. says

    Great tips! I did #2 and #3 today – I grabbed my work gym buddy and went to the gym and did a Nike Training Club workout – we competed to see who could do the most burpees, toe touches, jump squats and push ups :) We had a blast!

  8. says

    Well, i seldom call anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious, but these, especially a few combined, would be very, very close.

  9. says

    Kinect is awesome i was just staying over a friend’s house who has one, the dancing game worked out even my super gym ish friend (although i beat him!!). You don’t even know you’re working out, but you are.

  10. says

    I like the ‘I’ll only do a short workout’ option.

    (And I’m only talking about a walk or – previously – bout on the exercise bike.)

    I know once I’m out there I’ll keep going… but I’m struggling with motivation at the moment and can’t even get myself to go on a walk. (I did make it to two Zumba classes, so that says something about your first point – making it fun – as I enjoy dance.)

    Tomorrow – no matter what – I will go on a walk and even if I’m not motivated and filled with dread, I’ll decide to make it a short one!

    Thanks for this.

    • says

      Deb, we all have trouble getting motivated sometimes, but the fact that you made it to two Zumba classes shows you’re on the right track!

      Always remember that anything is better than nothing, whether it’s a 10 minute walk or just a few minutes on a bike.

  11. says

    Love this! There are so many ways to stay healthy & moving & motivated! People get stuck in that it has to be the gym or the pool or a certain way of doing something. Find what works & motivates you & it will all fall into place! :)

  12. says

    I work out every single day, NO EXCUSES! I wake up in the morning and just GO. I always tell myself, JUST RIP the band aid off and go, you will feel FAR BETTER when it’s over! And you know what? I ALWAYS DO! No one ever regretted a work out!! (well that is of course if you step wrong and sprain your ankle or something – ha!)

  13. says

    Tracking is a brilliant way to face your own mistakes. If you miss a workout or whatever and see it on paper in front of you, I think you’ve arrived at motivation station (well I hope, anyway).

    Like you I’d recommend HIIT to anyone, it’s super effective, but as you say only if you work hard. If you feel like being sick afterwards, or completely collapse, you know it’s worked!

  14. says

    Great advice. Most people find difficulties in motivation themselves when it comes to exercise. They need professional help like speakers, athletes, trainers and more. But the secret really is staying focus! your post will serve as a great help to those who find ways to keep themselves in shape and motivated. Kudos!

  15. says

    Great quote at the end, its so true. The beginning of this article described me perfectly. When I really am dreading a workout, I just try to get dressed and get out the door. Then if I know it will be over in 20 minutes, I’m much more inclined to push myself during HIIT. I usually run 1 mile out, stop and stretch, then on the way back do sprint intervals. I always feel a million times better after, these are some great tips!