How to motivate yourself to exercise

Finding the motivation to exercise isn’t always easy. Fitting some blood-pumping physical activity around our busy daily lives is only half the battle because once you find the time, you must actually want to work out. However, with all the health benefits exercising offers, it’s still something we should be making time for in our schedules.

So, how can you get motivated to exercise? These are our five top tips.

1. Mix it up

Creating a varied and dynamic workout schedule is the key to keeping yourself keen for your next session. There are many different types of exercise — from cardio to strength and flexibility training regimes — each with distinct benefits. Having a balanced routine to target the different components of physical fitness and keep you mentally stimulated by a fresh new set of challenges is important.

So, if you’re looking to switch up your workouts, consider adding a new kind of exercise to your routine. Try the classic couch to 5K scheme for a gentle introduction to cardio. If you’d like to build muscle, give a weights program a go — or, for a more comprehensive regime that targets the different muscle groups, consider a full monthly workout plan.

2. Reward yourself

There’s nothing wrong with indulging yourself a little when you hit a workout goal. Rewarding yourself will give you something to look forward to and a light at the end of the tunnel when you’re halfway through a particularly demanding set. Overall, a little positive reinforcement can help to incentivize and make a habit out of exercise. 

Incentives don’t necessarily have to be food-based, either — there are plenty of workout-wise rewards that won’t undo your efforts. For example, you could treat yourself to a massage, a slightly longer break before your next session, or some new fitness gear for the gym. Whatever it takes to get you up and moving, ensure you’re consistently kind to yourself when you achieve.

3. Make it social

According to Harvard exercise expert Daniel Lieberman, working out with friends is the best way to boost your motivation. While you enjoy the camaraderie and fun of social exercise, buddying up with a friend will also provide accountability to everyone involved. If you can push that little bit harder, try something new or go for one more set, nobody like a friend will encourage you to do it.

This will also take the pressure off when you want to try out a new class or equipment at the gym, allowing you to take every opportunity and rise to each fitness challenge that comes your way.

4. Time it right

It’s a phrase you’ve probably heard all of your life, but it holds water — some of us are morning people, and some are not. If you want to encourage yourself to exercise, you shouldn’t all-out force yourself — this is a surefire way to turn your workout into something you dread.

So if you aren’t a get-up-and-go morning runner, for example, stick to going out later in the day. You’ll ultimately get more out of a workout the more you put in, so try to work up a sweat when you’re feeling energized. This way, you’ll associate exercise with feeling pumped up and ready to go rather than drained.

5. Eat well

Speaking of feeling good, the last ingredient to a motivated mindset is food. You’ll need to fuel your body the right way to exercise effectively — this means consuming a balanced diet that integrates all the necessary macronutrients and micronutrients. If you’re confused by the jargon, macronutrients are the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that provide energy, while micronutrients comprise vitamins and minerals needed for general functioning.

But when should you eat in relation to exercise? According to Cleveland Clinic, you should have “a well-balanced meal three to four hours ahead of your workout,” incorporating carbs and lean protein, followed by a “protein-packed snack 15 minutes to an hour after your workout”. Using a similar schedule, you can charge up your workouts and avoid any fatigue that would put you off the next one.

Follow these rules, and you’ll be ready to exercise in no time — and once you start, there won’t be any stopping you.

Featured Photo by Gabin Vallet on Unsplash