5 Great Ways To Get and Stay Motivated to Exercise

Any fitness trainer will tell you that the most important asset in the gym, on the field or wherever you workout is motivation. The will, the drive, the oomph, the zeal to get up and go – and not just to go, to go hard. If you do not have that you won’t exercise.

Motivation isn’t just critical during your work-out, to press farther or run longer. It is also critical before. In fact, recently published research proves that you can predict how much you will work out, based on how motivated you are by the idea.

Main Motivation Killers

David Conroy, professor of kinesiology at Penn State had this to say about research he has published in the current issue of the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology:

Our results suggest that people with consistently strong intentions to exercise have the best chance of actually following through on their intentions, while people with the greatest fluctuations in their motivation have the hardest time using that motivation to regulate their behavior.

Why though do our motivations to workout fluctuate? Conroy had this to say:

Our motivation to be physically active changes on a weekly basis because we have so many demands on our time…Maybe one week we’re sick or we have a work deadline — or, in the case of students, an upcoming exam. But these lapses in motivation really seem to be destructive.

How To Keep Motivated: Stay Ahead

The way to win the war for motivation is to stay ahead. Stay ahead of conflicting demands for your time. Stay ahead of the inevitable feelings of tiredness, ‘just not up to it this morning’ and the other common motivation killers.

Here are 5 ways you can stay ahead of the enemy:

1. Make A Comprehensive Plan.

To win the war for motivation, you need to a clear and definite exercise regimen. The aim is to know (in order of importance):

  • WHAT you plan to do,
  • WHERE you plan to do it and
  • WHEN you plan to exercise,
  • HOW (any necessary tools, instructions, etc), and
  • WHO you plan to workout with (and whether they can fit in your plans).

Remember deep in your heart you are seeking any and every possible way out. When you plan you don’t give yourself that option.

2. Get Cliqued-Up!

Two heads are better than one. I generally workout alone, but I find that company is always encouraging. Especially when you want to stay consistent, it’s a great idea to have someone keep you accountable by working out with you.

3. Stockpile Inspirational Fitness Content.

Crystal Bullerwell has some great ones

Have you been to the fitness page on Pinterest? I’m new there, but one of the great things I find is how many motivational content there is for people who want to work out.

4. Always Measure Your Progress.

One of the most encouraging things is when you see progress unfolding right before your eyes! After all your hard work, one day you actually saw an outline of a six pack. The feeling, I have heard L, is priceless. It is also great motivation to workout.

Measure how many pushups or situp you do, record the number of days you have been consistent – you will be encouraged as you watch the numbers rack up.

5. Ensure Your Feelings Are Not Symptoms.

Maybe what you are feeling is not de-motivation, but the symptoms of dehydration or malnourishment. Maybe you have not been getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need to live an active life of work, school, workout, recreation and more.

To fix this problem, ensure you drink water way in advance of your workout time, and get something to eat as well (1-2 hours before, depending on how strenuous the workout).


6. Don’t plan to workout on the weekends.

Conroy and the Penn State team found that even for the most motivated people weekends were horrible days for working out.

“We saw that people who consistently reported stronger intentions to be active were more active during the week, but then on weekends the pattern flipped for them…If a person was really motivated during the week, then he or she crashed on the weekend.”

Please Let Me Know What You Think.

8 thoughts on “5 Great Ways To Get and Stay Motivated to Exercise”

  1. Fantastic article Andrew! I definitely agree having been rather de-motivated to exercise for the past few weeks, especially with unplanned changes in my schedule. This article in and of itself was motivation. Thanks!

    1. I’m glad it helped Charissa. I was pretty motivated as well when I read about the study. Its good to know how our minds operate so we don’t think all is lost when we miss out a few days. All the best.

  2. Thank you for featuring my Pinterest board!
    I do workout on the weekends, usually one of the two days. 5-6 days a week is key for great success! So for me, wednesday and sundays work best. But everyone is different. : )

    1. Hey Crystal, glad to meet the person behind the fantastic page. What you really highlight is that, regardless of what any particular study may find, we all have to do what works best for our personalities and schedules. If weekends work for you, then let them work. So yea, there is no set rule on that. Great to meet u.

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