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Motivate Yourself to Exercise: Tips and Advice

Updated on November 3, 2013

Follow Through on Your Fitness Goals

Maybe its the New Year, or maybe its just time to make a new year for yourself. You've finally set some fitness goals, but how do you motivate yourself to exercise?

Not only do you have to make time to exercise, its important to find positive ways to encourage yourself to do so. With busy lives and so many competing demands, you probably need help to motivate yourself to exercise.

Those that are starting a new fitness regime should talk to their doctor first to make sure they are healthy enough to start working out. Once you get the green light, its time to set some realistic goals that have less to do with the size of your clothes or the number on the scale and more to do with how you feel and the things you are able to do.

Instead of the goal to lose 20 pounds, why not work towards getting more restful sleep at least 5 days a week (hint - exercise will help with that!) Maybe you'll try to do 10 push-ups within 30 days? Take the stairs at your apartment carrying bags of groceries?

After you establish your fitness goals, you can start working towards them. Now, let's get you motivated!

Running a marathon has been a big exercise motivator for me over the past several years.
Running a marathon has been a big exercise motivator for me over the past several years. | Source

Motivate Yourself to Exercise: Visual Motivation

Visual motivation is more than just putting up old, slender photographs of yourself on your mirror to get you going in the morning (though that might help, too!) In order to keep my motivation high, right from the start of the day, I have my gym clothes and shoes set out the night before. That way, I can grab them quickly before an early spin class or run.

If I am going to take an exercise class later in the day, I will pack my gym bag before heading to bed. I include a protein bar or banana and a water bottle. And I never forget my iPod (tunes are critical!)

Not only will visual motivation help you start your day off right, but you'll soon find yourself in the routine of exercising when you make it easy on yourself. Once you are in stride with an exercise plan, the motivation is practically secondary.

Give yourself at least 30 days to establish a new routine for yourself and break old habits of excuses not to exercise. Getting organized the night before by laying out your exercise clothes or packing your gym bag will help minimize excuses (and stress) associated with establishing your new routine.

Increase Your Exercise Motivation

My children help motivate me to exercise, and are super cheerleaders!
My children help motivate me to exercise, and are super cheerleaders! | Source

Motivate Yourself to Exercise: Goal Motivation

Setting goals, that is, figuring out what you want to get out of a new fitness regime is a very important part to help motivate yourself to exercise.

First, pick a timeline - most experts would say setting a minimum of 6 months to accomplish your goals. Afterwards, set a realistic, attainable goal.

Consider these goal options:

1. I want to reduce my blood sugar levels to normal levels

2. I hope to finish a 1/2 marathon

3. I would like to take 2 inches off my waist

4. I want to feel happier and more rested

5. I hope to gain muscle definition

6. I want to feel stronger and more confident

If you are already working out, you might want to add some more ambitious goals:

1. I want to finish a 100-mile bicycle ride

2. I hope to run a 10K with a sub-9:00 minute mile pace

3. I want to complete a sprint distance triathlon

4. It would be great to set a personal record (PR) for my next race

5. I'd love to qualify for the Boston Marathon!

Keep Yourself Motivated to Exercise

Motivate Yourself to Exercise: Self-Rewards

Let's face it. You know you need to exercise for good health. There are a million reasons to get out there and move your body, but the biggest potential stumbling block is you.

That's right - your own negative thoughts can quickly sabotage your best intentions. So, instead of listening to the nay-sayer in your head, why not use a carrot, rather than a stick approach?

Self-rewards can be a great motivator. My best results have come from setting a short-term goal, like exercise 4 times in one week, or run 80 miles in a month. When I get there, I allow myself to celebrate with a fitting reward. Maybe its a pedicure, or a massage. Perhaps its a day of sleeping in (no exercise!) What ever you choose, be sure to enjoy the reward to its fullest, and then set a new goal to work towards.

Start replacing the quick, unhealthy "pick-me-ups" like a doughnut or a trip to the movies with more energizing rewards, including new mP3 files or a great pair of running shoes.

Maybe a bicycle race is in your future?
Maybe a bicycle race is in your future? | Source

Motivate Yourself to Exercise: Health-related Benefits

Yes, you know that exercise is good for your heath. But when you find your motivation waning, consider this list of potential health-related benefits of working out:

  • Stronger, more stable joints
  • Longer life
  • Lower blood pressure
  • More restful sleep
  • Higher metabolism (less weight gain)
  • Happier mood - nothing like endorphins!
  • Reduced complications of diseases including diabetes and heart disease
  • More productive days at home and and work
  • Better health = lower co-pays and health insurance costs
  • Ability to keep up with your kids
  • Relatively inexpensive entertainment
  • A great excuse to get together with friends

Running with my friends helps keep me motivated to exercise
Running with my friends helps keep me motivated to exercise | Source

How Do You Motivate Yourself to Exercise?

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© 2010 Stephanie Hicks


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    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi saket71 - I hope your test reports come out well and you have a good visit at the doctor. Good for you for making the time and a priority to visit your medical professional.

      And, hopefully, the information you get today will also help motivate you to exercise!

    • saket71 profile image


      9 years ago from Delhi, India

      Good stuff, stephhicks68. Am on the way to show the test reports of medical tests done end of last year, on saturday. Looking at my reports, guess I will have to come back to your hub again, as would need a lot of inspiration to bring about some much needed perspiration.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Good for you AmericanChoices! I started yoga in addition to my running! Its going to be a great 2011.

    • American_Choices profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Great Hub - perfect timing! Starting a program of running and swimming. Will keep you posted.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Good luck rastameraid! I hope that you find the motivation you need in 2011. Best to you, Steph

    • Rastamermaid profile image


      9 years ago from Universe

      Awesome hub,but I'm working on the motivation part.

      I'm sure this will help some but it's all on me.

      Thanks for the tips.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi kirutaye and anginwu - hope the motivation carries you to great exercise and fitness results. Best to you! Steph

    • anglnwu profile image


      9 years ago

      This is what I need for the coming year--more commitment towards an exercise regimen. All my excuses have been demolished by your helpful tips. Useful!

    • kirutaye profile image


      9 years ago from London, UK

      Just what i need to get motivated. Thank you for sharing. :o))

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Good luck SweetMarie! I'm glad this article helped motivate you! Have a terrific 2011 - Steph

    • SweetMarie83 profile image

      Marie Landry 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great information and great tips! I'm finding it really hard to get motivated lately but I have some pretty big goals for the new year and after reading this, I feel motivated to get started - thanks!

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Dahoglund,

      You are spot on regarding not making it a chore! Exercise is and should be enjoyable. Good for you for taking care of yourself and managing your diabetes. I have Type 1 diabetes myself and I find that my blood sugar levels are much more consistent with regular exercise. Cheers, Steph

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      When I became diabetic I found I had certain diet and exercise requirements. Low impact arobic exercise is best for my purpose. It does have to be daily. It should be part of one's lifestyle or incorporated into other activities. For example I walk my dog who requires more than I do. I often walk instead of drive for short distances.Mainly don't make it a chore.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Ashatina - thank you! Running with my friends is one of my favorite social activities... really! I hope that you find the inspiration and motivation to reach your fitness goals in 2011. Wishing you the best - Steph

    • Ashantina profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, you guys look sooo fit!! Glad I found this hub, as I need all the inspiration I can, to get me on a new fitness program 2011. :)

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Amy - good luck!! I'm sure you'll reach your fitness goals soon, and I can't wait to hear about any future running races you enter. Happy 2011 - all the best, Steph

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks prasetio! Positive self-talk can lead to the belief that we "can" do something we've always said we cannot. Exercise and fitness is within anyone's grasp. I appreciate your comments and support, as always! Best to you, Steph

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 

      9 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks for the motivation! This is exactly what I needed to read right now as I am planning my new workout schedule. :) The health benefits motivate me the most. And of course exercise is excellent for stress relief...and I need that!

    • prasetio30 profile image


      9 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Motivation is came from ourself. The problem is how to motivate our self doing everything based the schedule we have. The example of doing exercise. We have to do this regularly and we have to motivate ourself. By giving a reward to ourself is a good way too. I am glad to know how you made this work for you based your self experience. I thought most of us want to follow your tips above.

      This is so beautiful and I really enjoy with the video you gave to us. I give my vote to you. Have a great New Year.

      Blessing and hugs,

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thank you so much Katie - I am so enjoying your health hubs, too! I do thrive on goals and I love competing against myself. I'm always pushing for a faster time, a better pace, etc. I've "just" been a runner, but have recently added cross-training to include spin classes and strength conditioning. I've signed up for hot yoga next month too.

      Here's wishing you a happy, healthy and athletically inspired 2011! Best, Steph

    • katiem2 profile image

      Katie McMurray 

      9 years ago from Westerville

      This is truly inspirational and very motivational. I love the will run for vino t-shirt, I will do most any sport, workout of physical challenge for vino... red that is!

      WOW am I ever proud of your goals, running is a great sport.

      I'm a biker myself as I'm completly addicted.

      Your right it only really matters to get into something and stay motivated, we are creatures of habit and any bad habit can be replaced with a good one or good ones! I go for the plural...

      I love this and will be back to watch the great videos, rated up and all that is good! Thanks again for the great motivation to exercise! :) Katie


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