Tips for Staying Motivated to Exercise

Most agree on the benefits of regular exercise. It can lower blood pressure, improve mental health and mood, increases longevity and can reduce the risk of many diseases. Being armed with this knowledge is not always enough to motivate you to get moving. It can feel like there’s not enough time in a day to get in a trip to the gym, a workout, or even a short walk. Finding the motivation is more difficult sometimes than the workout itself. Behavioral scientists have been studying what types of motivation actually work. They came up with a number of strategies that help get most people moving. Next time you’re coming up with excuses, try one of these strategies to get you off the couch and out the door.

Don’t Make Exercise About How You Look

For many, how they look is the primary reason to exercise. Maybe you want to firm up your arms or lose a few more pounds. Instead of setting goals based on your appearance, try another goal. For instance, choose a number of times to work out each week. Making a process goal makes it more likely that you’ll stick to working out. A big picture outcome like losing weight ends up being discouraging. Instead set your goal to be reachable and less about the big goal. Make the goal to exercise on Tuesdays and Fridays at 9 am. Now you’re reaching a very attainable goal and far more likely to be consistent.

Do An Activity You Enjoy

Regular exercise doesn’t mean sweating it out in the gym or spending all afternoon on a treadmill. Think of something active you really enjoy. Take a hike on a nearby trail, sign up for a dance class, or volunteer to walk dogs at an animal shelter. Doing something you like will feel less like work and more like fun. You’ll be more likely to look forward to it and to stick with for the long haul.

Turn Into an Early Bird

Scientists discovered we tend to have only a certain amount of willpower for a day. It’s drained throughout the day by activities and decisions. To preempt draining your willpower, workout in the mornings. Get it in before your willpower becomes depleted. One study suggested working out in the mornings while cortisol levels are higher can provide more motivation and increased energy throughout the day.

Make it a Social Activity

Research shows you are more likely to exercise on a consistent basis if you work out with others. There is a certain level of accountability even if it remains unspoken. You don’t want to let the other down by not showing up and exercising is more fun with others. Studies also indicate that those who work out with a partner exert more effort and tend to spend nearly twice as long exercising as those who work out alone.