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How to Get Motivated to Exercise: Tips and Tricks

Motivation to exercise

Are you struggling to find the motivation to exercise? You're not alone. Many people struggle to get started with a regular exercise routine, and even those who do exercise regularly can find it challenging to stay motivated. However, regular exercise is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health, so it's important to find ways to stay motivated.

One of the most effective ways to get motivated to exercise is to set specific goals. Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, or simply improve your overall health, setting clear goals can help you stay focused and motivated.

Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable, and break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if your goal is to walk a 5k, start by walking for a few minutes each day and gradually increase your distance and speed over time.

Understanding Motivation

Exercise motivation can come from a variety of places. This can include a desire to improve your health, lose weight, or simply feel better and have more energy. It's important to figure out what motivates you to exercise, as this can help you stay on track and achieve your goals.

Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Exercise not only benefits your physical health but also has many psychological benefits. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as improve mood and memory.

Knowing the psychological benefits of exercise can help you stay motivated when you're feeling down or stressed. It can also help you make exercise a habit and part of your daily routine.

Setting Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is so important to staying motivated to exercise. It's helpful to set goals that are challenging but also achievable. Setting goals that are too difficult can be really unmotivating and feel almost impossible to reach. But on the other extreme, setting goals that are too easy can lead to boredom and lack of progress.

When setting goals, it's important to be specific and measurable. For example, instead of saying "I want to lose weight," set a specific goal such as "I want to lose 10 pounds in the next six months." This helps you track your progress and stay motivated as you work towards achieving your goal.

By understanding what motivates you, knowing the psychological benefits of exercise, and setting realistic goals, you can stay motivated to exercise and achieve your fitness goals.

Strategies for Getting Motivated

Creating a Routine

One of the most effective ways to get motivated to exercise is by creating a routine. Having a set time and place for your workout can help you develop a habit, making it easier to stick to your fitness goals. 

Consider scheduling your exercise sessions at the same time on certain days of the week, such as before work or during your lunch break. You can also try setting reminders on your phone or calendar to help you stay on track.

Frame of Mind

When I’m struggling to find the motivation to exercise, I tend to look at it as I would a physical therapy session. If my doctor told me to go to physical therapy 2 times per week, I would make that appointment and show up. Why not treat exercise the same way? 

Finding a Workout Buddy

Working out with a friend or family member can be a great way to stay motivated. Having someone to exercise with can make your workouts more enjoyable, and provide you with some extra accountability.

You can try joining a fitness class or group, or simply ask a friend to be your workout partner. Make sure to choose someone who has similar fitness goals and is committed to staying active.

Choosing Enjoyable Activities

Another way to get motivated to exercise is by choosing activities that you enjoy. If you hate running, don't force yourself to do it. Instead, try out different types of workouts until you find something that you truly enjoy.

Whether it's swimming, dancing, kayaking, playing active Wii video games, or hiking, finding an activity that you love can make all the difference in your motivation to exercise.

Tracking Progress and Celebrating Success

Finally, tracking your progress and celebrating your successes can help you stay motivated in the long run. Consider keeping a workout journal or using a fitness app to track your progress over time. Set small goals for yourself and celebrate when you achieve them.

Whether it's treating yourself to a new workout outfit or adventure, celebrating your successes can help you stay motivated and focused on your fitness journey.

Katie Ott, MS, RD

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