How to stay motivated to exercise – a question I’m asked regularly by my clients and members! I thought it was time to get some thoughts down in writing …
Everyone knows that regular exercise is so good for you. Finding the motivation to do it however is hard and requires real effort.
There are however plenty of ways to make it easier for yourself.
In the video below and within this article, I explore how to stay motivated to exercise and provide 8 different techniques.
There’s a synopsis of this video below.
Technique #1 – Make it enjoyable
The easier you make something for yourself, the more likely it is to stick! That’s human nature.
It’s therefore essential that you pick an activity, a class or an instructor which you enjoy! You may take a while to find the right thing – the thing which suits you.
When you think you’ve found it – the ultimate test is to monitor whether you look forward to the next session.
If dreading your next workout becomes the norm – then you’ve almost certainly made the wrong choice – think about making a change.
If you generally look forward to the next class – then you’re giving yourself a much better chance of succeeding.
Life’s too short to do things that you don’t enjoy. With exercise – you’ve many choices – pick both the instructor and exercise type which is right for you.
If you’re looking test out something new – why not try my free pilates workouts page?
I go out of my way to make sure my workouts don’t feel like a chore – I hope you agree!
Technique #2 – Pay attention to progress
Human beings LOVE to see progress. This is so true, when it comes to boosting your motivation.
If you can see physical and mental changes going on within your body, whilst following an exercise routine, you are much more likely to continue following it.
The opposite also applies!
Changes are normally small and incremental and it’s very easy to look in the mirror or weigh yourself a month after starting a programme and be despondent.
Don’t be! Your body doesn’t change to order – it takes time to lose weight and gain muscle mass. Again, the opposite also applies – it’s rare to put on weight quickly – it happens incrementally over many months – and it’s not always obvious until big changes have occurred.
If you’re looking to change body shape – accept it will take time – and give yourself enough time. Be consistent and know that changes will come. When they do – take note – and your motivation will stay strong.
Seeing progress is a real motivator. Be patient waiting for that progress.
Technique #3 – Make it accessible
Whatever stage of life you’re in – no doubt your days are full. Time is short and is our most precious commodity.
So many people fail to do the things they’ve promised themselves they’ll do, as they’ve not embraced the constraints they have in their life. It’s so easy in a rash moment to make a pledge to do something regularly, without thinking about the logistical challenges. As soon as it gets slightly difficult – the priorities take over and the ‘nice to haves’ fall by the wayside.
Don’t let this happen to your exercise routine!
If you are considering taking up a class in a gym which is a 45 minute drive away away – then be realistic – it’s unlikely to be something you will still be doing 3 months later. Your motivation is bound to fall away.
Exercise has to fit into your lifestyle – don’t let it become a chore. Make it easy on yourself. Choose an online programme which is on-demand. Timed online classes have their place – but if you can’t get to them regularly, as your lifestyle doesn’t allow for it – then that consistency will soon fall away, along with your motivation.
Make an exercise choice which slots into your days and weeks and becomes a natural part of your life.
Technique #4 – Make it a habit
Habits are fascinating things. They are most commonly linked with giving up smoking or eating better, however they are so much more than that.
According to Duke University research back in 2006 – around 40% of the actions we perform every day aren’t controlled by decision making but by our unconsious thoughts – otherwise known as habits! They are an incredibly powerful part of our lives and shouldn’t be ignored.
They can be leveraged to create lifelong good practices when it comes to health and wellbeing. The great news is that it’s simple to tap into them and embed them into our lives, by creating simple habit loops.
Habit loops can be created by recognising a trigger (perhaps waking up) … linking that to a routine (putting on your gym kit) … and associating a reward with it (enjoying breakfast with a healthy glow).
To make these loops stronger (and easier), create the right environment for yourself. For example. the night before a workout – prepare your clothes, your equipment and your space – give yourself the best possible chance of success the next morning. When you wake up, you know what you’ve got to do, because you’ve made it easy for yourself.
So many of the weekly workout family write to me and tell me that they’ve built workouts into their day or week – the monthly challenges have become integral to their lives. These same people also tell me how much they love seeing the benefits.
I hope you’re able to do the same and create the habit.
Technique #5 – Keep it varied
My business partner, Mark, has had a saying in his family – “Go with what you don’t know” – it’s his way of ensuring his children keep pushing themselves and moving outside of their comfort zones. It’s all too easy to “go with what you do know” – reaching for the same exercise every day or every week – it’s familiar – you know what’s coming next and surprise, surprise, you can manage it all easily.
After a few weeks – do you notice your motivation tailing off? Also – do you notice the effect it’s having on your body is also tailing off?
One of the phrases I live by (and the weekly workout family know this well) is to ‘Keep the body guessing!’
I say this mainly because it’s so important to challenge your muscles in different ways – it’s the best way to build strength and stamina. I also say it, because variety is the spice of life! If you wake up every day, faced with the same set of exercises – your motivation will soon tail off.
One of our members wrote to me recently and said:
“It’s like Christmas. Every single class I open is different – it’s like unwrapping a present”
– Weekly Workout Club member
And so – if you are looking for simple ways to keep motivated – keep those exercises varied! Have your favourites of course – but if you can ensure that for the majority of the time you’re doing something different – you won’t go far wrong!
Technique #6 – Notice ‘life’ improvements
Another way to keep motivated is to correlate improvements you see in your daily life with the work you’ve put in during your exercise routines.
As an example, I teach classes which improve balance – something which naturally tails off with age.
When you do focus on one aspect, such as balance – changes can be so small (as I described with weight loss above) – it’s hard to notice improvements – unless you’re on the look out for them.
So – if you’re focusing on balance or you’re looking to improve an aching back when gardening – remember to think about improvements three months down the line. Are you still having the same issues? Do you notice anything becoming easier? When you do – make sure you attribute those improvements to the work you’ve put in – there’s nothing more motivating!
When you see success, you want more of it – it’s a human instinct. Recognise that success, focus and repeat.
By the way – there are so many benefits to pilates I’ve written an article on it.
Technique #7 – Track progress
There’s a theme here – isn’t there? Motivation comes from within and if you can see progress, you’ll naturally do more of whatever’s getting you there.
Habit or progress trackers are big business. Whether you use a habit tracking app, crosses in a diary or put marbles in a jar – a visual representation of your progress each week or month is hugely motivating. Humans like to rise to challenges. We like to not break chains. If you’ve exercised 4 times a week for 3 months – it becomes incredibly hard not to exercise 4 times a week ongoing.
Research says that it takes approximately 70 days to embed a new habit. Once a habit has been established – it’s incredibly hard to break.
Getting to that point is helped hugely by tracking progress.
My Workout Club has a progress tracker each month. Members print them out and stick them somewhere prominent.
Imagine how good (and motivating) it feels to see lots of ticks at the end of each 4 workout/week monthly challenge?!
Technique #8 – Enjoy the rewards
If I’m consistent with my exercise habit – then I know I can let my hair down at weekends – I can eat that piece of cake and/or have that glass of wine and genuinely enjoy it, as opposed to be thinking it’s a bad thing and have those feelings of guilt.
This is so important to me. Life is all about balance.
That thought is such a motivator for me. I hope that it is for you too.
How to stay motivated to exercise – a final recap
I hope these techniques on how to stay motivated to exercise are useful. It’s been cathartic writing them all down – I get asked about motivation so often.
It’s only natural to ‘fall off the exercise wagon’ once in a while. The important thing is to get back on it!
Re-establish that motivation or keep it in check by remembering why exercise, health and wellness is so important … visualise the health benefits … have that desire to remain as healthy as possible into later life.
If you’re looking for a new routine – why not try one of my free Pilates workouts? Click the link – and get started today – maybe you’re about to start a new habit today? I do hope so.