It doesn’t matter if you have been exercising for years, or have never stepped foot into a gym. Everyone knows what it’s like to lack the motivation to exercise.
Perhaps you have tried putting a picture of your “ideal” body as your phone background. Perhaps you have tried getting a workout buddy or joined an accountability group.
If you are reading this article, you’ve likely discovered that though these can provide short term motivation, they likely don’t last more than a few weeks or months.
So, what is the key to be motivated to exercise?
What do other people have figured out that you haven’t discovered yet?
Well, I’m going to share this with you today.
I’ve compiled a list of 5 strategies to find motivation to exercise for good and, as a bonus, you will also discover how to truly enjoy exercise!
Try out these 5 strategies and discover what works best for you.
1. Find a form of exercise you love
This is the #1 tip for a reason!
If you don’t like the exercise you are doing, you will not find motivation to exercise.
You may find some way to push yourself to do it for a few weeks or months, but long term, you’re screwed!
People often feel like they need to do a certain form of exercise to get the body they want. But, if you hate the form of exercise you “need” to do, you are never going to be able to stick to that exercise routine.
When it comes down to it, cardio is cardio and resistance training is resistance training. Though I do think it’s important to include both in your routine, the form of each doesn’t matter.
Don’t like running? Try swimming. Try zumba. Try walking (though you would have to walk for a longer time to get the same health benefits).
Don’t like lifting heavy weights? Try circuit training. Try resistance bands. Try low weight, high reps.
Find a form of exercise you look forward to doing every day!
Experiment and try new things.
For me, I love weight lifting. I lift heavy and work up a sweat (enough to count is as low intensity cardio – double whammy!).
Personally, I ran cross country and swam competitively in high school so I became rather burnt out on steady state cardio.
But, I do know people that absolutely love to go out and run. In the end, find something you enjoy and you’ll find it’s easy to stick to.
2. Try out different exercise environments
Some people thrive in a gym environment, and some people don’t. Everyone is unique!
There are so many places you can exercise.
If you like running, try running on a bike path, in the woods (if it’s safe), on a treadmill, on the road, see what you like!
Try at home workouts, in your living room, in the garage, in your backyard.
Even gyms vary widely. Do you like a more open environment with high ceilings? Do you like being surrounded by meat heads or more of a Average Joes kinda vibe? Do you like being surrounded by mirrors or just having a concrete wall to stare at?
Just chose an environment that you enjoy and feel comfortable working out in.
Also, think about what you like to wear working out.
Some people love to rock the sports bra and high waisted leggings look. Others love a big tee and Nike running shorts.
What you wear can affect how you feel.
Honestly, I like to rock a different outfit depending on my mood. Am I trying to crush my goals or am I just out there to feel good and confident in my own skin?
Where you are and how you dress can be huge factors that determine how you feel and therefore how motivated you are to exercise.
3. Don’t be afraid to modify your plan
I’ll be completely honest. Some days I’m just not feeling it.
And this totally is ok! I find that on the days where I’m hesitant or intimidated by the intensity of my workout, I just take it down a notch.
For example, during quarantine I have gotten back into jogging. One day, I was just not feeling it. So, I decided to go out for a walk instead.
This was much less intimidating and knowing that I didn’t have to force myself to run took the stress off.
Plus, less than five minutes into the walk I decided to jog for a little bit and ended up jogging the rest of the way.
Sometimes you just need to get yourself out there, take the stress off and move without any expectations. You’ll be surprised what you are capable of once you begin!
Also, if you are following some sort of plan, don’t be afraid to swap out exercises based on your own preferences.
If the plan says you need to do three sets of squats and you hate squats, try deadlifts or leg press instead!
It’s ok to deviate from a plan to make it more enjoyable for you. I promise you – you won’t even notice the difference.
4. Build exercise into your schedule
If you tell yourself you will exercise “whenever you have time”, I promise you, you will not be exercising as much as you want.
Treat exercise as a part of your schedule. Go to work, do your workout, come home, make dinner.
It becomes part of your day, not just an extra “add-on”.
This way, you don’t find yourself looking at the clock at 7pm and saying “Oh well, I’ll just workout tomorrow!” (and yes, I am guilty of this).
Find a solid chunk of time where you have time to go workout. Consider how long it takes to get dressed, drive to the gym (if you chose to go to a gym), workout, and drive back home. It’s ok if you only have fifteen minutes to workout. See what fits into your schedule.
And then schedule it. Make it part of your day, just as going to work is part of your day.
Now, saying this, it’s also important to note that it’s ok to deviate from the schedule.
Having period cramps? It’s ok to skip the gym. Having dinner at your boyfriend’s parents house? It’s ok to skip the gym.
Though exercising is important, it’s ok to skip every once and a while. Don’t let it become something that stresses you out. And that leads into the last tip!
5. Stop feeling guilt (the most important tip)
Often we give up on a routine or workout plan because we “fail”.
We skip a few workouts or cut a few short because it’s too difficult. And then we think we’re failures and totally give up.
This is going to be a massive barrier to finding motivation to exercise.
It’s important to consider why you “failed” and how you can move on with your life.
Was your workout plan too challenging? It’s time to find something more suited to your fitness level (and this is 100% ok, everyone is a beginner at some point).
Did you just flat out hate the workouts? It’s time to find something more enjoyable (refer to tip #1).
Did you hate the structure and just wanted to do your own thing? It’s time to do your own thing! Some people thrive under set plans while others love doing something new every day.
I promise, exercising in the way you enjoy is going to benefit you way more in the long run versus exercising in a way that gets you the “best results” (what does that even mean anyways?).
In the end, stop feeling guilty and start moving in a positive direction. There is no “perfect” way to exercise, every single person is unique.
Find something you love that works for you. And accept that this may change over time! Just keep adapting and keep moving forward!
Other tips to find motivation to exercise
In the end, you will find motivation to exercise when you find exercise enjoyable and build it into your routine.
This means finding a type of exercise you enjoy, doing workouts you enjoy, exercising in an environment where you feel most comfortable, and taking it easy on yourself.
In the end, you’ll find that if you find a form of exercise that is all around enjoyable for you, you will stick to it.
Though the enjoyable form of fitness may not be as “intense” or “calorie burning” compared to another form of exercise, you will be able to adhere to it. And that’s what matters.
It’s always better to complete five sessions of a more relaxed, fun workout, compared to two sessions of an intense, unenjoyable workout.
As with anything in life, the more you like it, the more you’ll do it!
And along with this, you’ll look forward to exercise, because it’s fun and it makes you feel good.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. Feel free to contact me directly for any questions or comments, or just comment down below!
Also, follow me on Instagram @tasteitwithtia for free resources and healthy recipes!