23 Ways to boost your workout motivation that will actually make you WANT to exercise
During a workout, your body releases chemicals called endorphins and you feel great! The problem is finding the motivation to work out before you get that amazing feeling. There is always something more important or better to do even if that just includes lying on the sofa. So if you are wondering how to get motivated to workout or how to stay motivated to workout then you have come to the right place!
See also weight loss motivation
Firstly, how much exercise should you be doing? According to the Department of Health and Human Services adults should:
- Do at least 150-300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, 75-150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
- Also, do strength training 2 or more days a week.
Motivation to Workout
How to motivate yourself to work out and to stay motivated to work out? Exercise motivation is something we often have for the first few days and then we somehow lose it. The following tips will help you when you find yourself turning off your alarm clock in the morning and going back to sleep instead of working out.
Schedule your workouts in your planner
Decide how many times per week you will work out, what you will do, when and for how long. Schedule your workouts in your planner. Treat them like an important appointment you wouldn’t miss.
For example, I will walk for 20 minutes a day, on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7 AM.
Set clear, defined SMART goals that are realistic and achievable. If your goals are too difficult, you will give up so it’s better to set smaller goals and achieve them. In the book atomic habits, James Clear suggests setting small goals such as going for a two-minute run. Once you are out there, you will most probably carry on running you are more likely to go out for a two-minute run than a 60-minute run.
Put your alarm far from your bed
It’s more effective to work out in the morning since you have less time for excuses throughout the day. The problem with the morning is that it’s easier to turn off your alarm clock and go back to sleep. Therefore, put your alarm clock as far from your bed as possible so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
Put your clothes out the night before
You need to make it easy to work out so put out your clothes the night before. Put your shoes and anything you will need out as well.
Find a friend to workout with
For some reason, it is more difficult to let someone else down than let yourself down. If you know your friend is waiting for you to start the workout then you will get there. If you want more motivation you can even take your friend’s shoes or another item they will need to work out. You won’t be able to text them that you are not joining them for the workout if they need their shoes. This is a great way to ensure you show up to exercise.
It’s also more fun to work out with others than on your own.
I did a plank challenge with colleagues at work. We met every morning for a few minutes a day to plank. It took only 5 minutes of our day but the group pressure forced me to go even when I didn’t feel like it.
Sign up for a race
If you want to get into running but keep putting off your runs then sign up for a race. It will force you to get fit before the race. See Couch to 5K Schedule
Sign a habit contract / commitment contract
We offer a free habit contract or commitment contract that you can sign. Get someone who you don’t want to let down sign it as well. For example, if you don’t want your kids to see that you don’t honor your commitments then get them to sign the contract as well.
Commit to doing something you don’t want to do if you don’t achieve your goals. For example, each time you don’t exercise you will give $20 away or to charity.
Find an activity you enjoy
Find an activity you enjoy and actually want to do. There are so many different options you are bound to find one you actually want to do. Try basketball, spinning, kickboxing, volleyball, dancing, martial arts, HIIT training, etc. If you get bored then alternate the activities.
Sign up for a class
When you pay for something you are more likely to actually go. Sign up for a class that you enjoy. Some clubs charge you more if you don’t make it to the classes. Find out if you have that option. It’s a great incentive.
Hire a personal trainer
If you can afford a personal trainer then this is the best way to exercise. Not only will someone ensure your technique is correct but you cannot get out of your workout if they are coming to your home.
Watch TV while exercising
I once decided that I could only watch a certain series while exercising. I either walked on a treadmill or cycled on a stationary bike while watching it.
Use an exercise journal
We offer a free fitness journal that is sure to motivate you. It has motivational quotes, exercise goals, exercise logs, weight trackers, etc that will help with fitness motivation.
Record why you want to exercise and what you plan to do.
For each exercise session, use the exercise log to record what you did, and how you felt during and afterward. This will help you track your progress.
When you start setting your workout goals decide on a reward you will get if you achieve those goals. This should be something you want but will only allow yourself when you exercise x number of times or reach a certain goal.
You can also save for a big reward such as a vacation by putting aside a specific sum each time you exercise. Use our free savings tracker chart printables to keep track of how much you save.
In addition to this external reward, you will be rewarded internally after each session. During a workout, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, and it’s the reason that a lot of people exercise. You feel really good after the workout. You often feel more relaxed as well. Savor this feeling after a workout and remind yourself how it feels when you are not motivated to work out.
Focus on the benefits of exercise
The best way to find fitness motivation is to make yourself want to work out in order to receive the benefits you get from exercise. When you force yourself to exercise in order to burn calories it is not nearly as motivating as when you decide you want to exercise in order to repeat the benefits of exercise.
Therefore, instead of thinking of exercise as something you have to do, train your mind to think of it as something you choose to do because of the benefits of exercise.
According to MayoClinic, exercise increases your sense of well-being and has some direct stress-busting benefits as well. Physical activity may help bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Exercise also reduces the negative effects of stress. Exercise also improves your mood, can increase self-confidence, help you relax, and lower symptoms of mild depression and anxiety.
Put on uplifting music and go for a walk. Not only will you benefit from the endorphins but the music will instantly improve your mood. If you don’t have your own playlist then search for “running playlists” on YouTube.
According to CDC, being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.
Try our free self-care journal to focus on the importance of self-care. It will help you make your self-care a priority which in turn will make you want to work out.
Make small changes to your lifestyle
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none.
Even if you don’t exercise regularly, make small changes to your lifestyle that will make you more active. Try using a standing desk or treadmill desk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further than you would. Play basketball with your kids. Walk your dog or your neighbor’s dog if you don’t have one.
In Ikigai book by Hector Garcia Puigcerver and Francesc Miralles, the authors describe the Japanese secret to a long and happy life. The island of Okinawa, in southern Japan, is home to the highest concentration of centenarians in the world. Okinawans are very active. However, they don’t do high-intensity activity, but they are constantly active whether it is walking or working in their gardens. According to health expert Gavin Bradley, sitting adversely impacts your health. He found that after just a half hour of sitting in a chair, the metabolism slows down, disrupting the healthy digestion of fat. What’s more, sitting for over two hours causes good cholesterol levels to drop. However, getting up for a mere five minutes every half hour is sufficient to offset these effects. So, make it a habit to stand up at least once every half hour.
Put on your exercise gear even if you don’t want to exercise
David Allen, author of Getting Things Done suggests you use “Tricks” to motivate you to exercise. Tricks are for those who need extra motivation to work out. David Allen explains that it is easier to “act yourself” into exercising than to feel the motivation to exercise.
Allen suggests you set yourself up to do the things that those motivated do automatically. Put on your exercise gear even if you don’t want to exercise. Once it’s on, you will start to feel like exercising. If you don’t act – i.e. get dressed – then the chances are you will prefer to do something else instead.
Commit to short sessions
If you commit to working out for 5 minutes a day, you will always have the time and energy. Once you are already exercising, the chances are you will continue for longer than 5 minutes. However, when you tell yourself you will exercise for an hour it is much easier to find reasons not to exercise. So set short goals and you will be much more likely to achieve them.
Use exercise trackers
There is something about marking off your exercise tracker that is so satisfying. We offer free fitness journals for various fitness programs such as:
Each calendar has a schedule and a section to mark the workout complete.
Commit to a 30 day challenge
Who doesn’t like a challenge? Commit to a 30 Day Challenge (preferably together with an accountability buddy).
Use a Commitment device
Use a commitment device to motivate you to work out. There are many different commitment devices such as a cash commitment device. You nominate a friend to whom you will be accountable. Tell your friend how many times a week you commit to exercising and what you will do. If your accountability buddy sees that you are not making progress she will fine you. Agree on the fine beforehand. The money can either go to your friend or to a charity to choose beforehand.
Make a Public pledge
A public pledge is where you make your goals public. Let your friends and family know about your exercise goals or post them on social media. The idea is that after you have publicly announced what you are going to do, you will be too embarrassed not to do it.
Choose the people you spend time with well because they will influence you. Surround yourself with the people who live the way you want to live. If you have friends who exercise regularly then spend more time with them. I have a group of 5 friends who all want to exercise. We meet to exercise and motivate each other. If you don’t have friends who exercise then join an exercise class where you can meet people.