Whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply improve your health, regular exercise is the best way to make it happen.
Unfortunately, life is busy and stressful which makes it tough to find the time (or the motivation) to go the extra mile – even when it’s in your best interest. So, if you are struggling to make it to the gym or you feel like you don’t have the energy to work out at home, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to give yourself a boost of motivation.
Well, you’re in luck! Here are ten simple tips for motivating yourself to exercise.
The Top 4 Motivational Tips According to Science
The human body is like a machine with all of its parts working in unison to ensure harmony and optimal function. Exercising regularly is a great way to keep those parts well lubricated and working as they should. If you find it difficult to drag yourself out of the house to get some exercise, you may be going about it the wrong way. Here are four motivational tips backed by science that are proven to help you get going when it comes to exercise:
1. Reward Yourself
A study published by the Harvard Business Review revealed that even small rewards can motivate a person to go the extra mile. Though this particular study was executed in a business setting, the fact remains that giving yourself a reward can increase your motivation. When it comes to motivating yourself to exercise with rewards, however, you need to be careful to make sure the reward doesn’t negate the benefits of the exercise. Try treating yourself to an episode of your favorite show after a workout or sip on a tasty (and healthy) smoothie as a reward.
2. Sign a Contract
Research shows that people who make a commitment in front of other people are more likely to stick to their word. If you really want to motivate yourself, find a friend and sign a contract saying you’ll pay them $20 each time you skip your workout class. If you don’t want to involve anyone else, you could sign a contract with yourself saying you’ll put $5 in a jar each time you go to the gym and, after a certain number of weeks, you can use that money to buy something you want.
3. Try Positive Thinking
Studies have shown that visualizing the benefits of taking a certain action can help motivate you to actually take that action. In a study conducted at New York University, 51 female students who wanted to reduce their junk food intake were asked to visualize the benefits of eating healthier food. They were then asked to identify the problem that was holding them back from their goal – those who were able to identify the problem and formed a plan to solve it were successful in meeting their goal. You can implement this strategy with your workout habits!
4. Find a Friend
According to research conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, being part of a strong and supportive community is much more effective in inspiring motivation to exercise than offering monetary rewards. If you have trouble motivating yourself to workout, consider joining a group fitness class or simply finding a group of friends to work out with.
Though these four motivational tips are backed by science, they may not work for everyone. If you feel like you still need an extra push, there are some simple steps you can combine to maximize your motivation. Keep reading to find out what they are.
Six Simple Steps to Motivate Yourself
If you’re still struggling to get to the gym, you could hire a drill instructor to scream insults at you until you are so ashamed of yourself that you spend the next four hours at the gym.
You could, but you shouldn’t. Shame is not an effective tool for motivation, at least not in the long run. If you really want to make a habit of exercising regularly, there are some simple steps you can take which, in combination, may help you get to the gym and keep you going. Here they are:
1. Set Goals for Yourself
Setting goals for yourself is a great way to motivate yourself to do anything, really. Having goals gives you something to work towards and, especially if you set small goals along the way, reaching those goals will be motivation in and of itself for you to keep going.
2. Plan Ahead
If your primary excuse for not exercising is lack of time, the simple solution is to work your workouts into your weekly schedule! Find a time slot that works well for you and schedule your daily or weekly workouts. If it’s part of your schedule, you may be more likely to do it!
3. Make Exercise Fun
If exercise is torturous for you, it’s not going to be something you prioritize, and you may find yourself making excuses to skip it. If you try to make exercise fun, however, you’ll be more motivated to do it! For some people, it’s as simple as loading up your phone with a great playlist or maybe it means buying yourself some awesome activewear. If you work out at home, try planning your workout around your favorite TV show so you have something to watch.
4. Try a Program
Some people just aren’t good at motivating themselves. If you find yourself in that boat, ask yourself whether it might help to join a class or to follow a specific program. Sometimes having a little bit of guidance or direction is all you need to get yourself up off the couch and into the gym. You can find plenty of workout plans online for free or you can purchase a customized plan. You could even pay for a handful of personal training sessions to develop a custom workout and to learn how to make the most of your exercise regimen.
5. Wear a Fitness Tracker
Sure, fitness trackers are the latest trend and you may be tired of hearing about them, but if you’re having trouble motivating yourself to stay active, it might be worth a try! If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to get frustrated by what seems like a lack of progress but it takes time to change your body! Wearing a fitness tracker and seeing how many steps you took or how many calories you burned during a workout can give you a tiny sense of accomplishment in your day-to-day life that may motivate you to keep striving for your end goal.
6. Change Your Thinking
If you think of exercise as a chore or obligation, it’s going to be much harder for you to actually get out and do it. If you instead think of your time at the gym as “me” time, you may not only be more likely to do it, but more likely to enjoy it! When exercising, it’s important to push yourself hard if you want to make progress, but that doesn’t mean your workout can’t be enjoyable or fulfilling. You can choose how you think about exercise and the choice you make can either help or hinder your motivation!
What works for you may not work for someone else – that is just a simple fact of life. Everyone is different, and it is up to you to know and understand your own body if you want to learn how to effectively motivate yourself. Like anything in life, it may take some trial and error but, if you work at it, you’ll figure it out soon enough and then you’ll start reaping the benefits!
-  Furtmuller, Gerhard. “Even Tiny Rewards Can Motivate People to Go the Extra Mile.” Harvard Business Review. <https://hbr.org/2016/06/even-tiny-rewards-can-motivate-people-to-go-the-extra-mile>
-  Kanowitz, Stephanie. “They Offered to Pay People to Go to the Gym. Guess What Happened?” The Washington Post. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/they-offered-to-pay-people-to-go-to-the-gym-guess-what-happened/2017/08/01/b6c58704-75fd-11e7-8f39-eeb7d3a2d304_story.html?utm_term=.3bbbb0afdc30>