Need Motivation to Exercise?


January is the month we all swore to hit the gym more. A few weeks in and many of us will already be feeling demotivated. Getting fit might seem like a good idea in concept, but it takes a lot of effort. Those that don’t naturally crave the endorphin rush of exercise tend to give in easily. Most of us have limited free time and the idea of watching TV and relaxing is far more satisfying than jogging in the rain or a brutal spin class. This is where extra forms of encouragement are needed. Here are just a few ways of staying motivated, helping you to get in shape and feel more positive.  


Set clear goals

First you need to have a clear goal. Joining the gym isn’t a goal, it’s a starting point. Losing weight or building muscle should be your end goals, but even these aren’t clear enough. You need to come up with something tangible such as being able to fit into a certain dress size or being able to lift a certain weight or being able to run a certain distance. This gives you a clear figure to aim for.

On top of having an end goal, you need to have micro-goals. These should be weekly challenges to help spur on progress such as losing an extra pound or lifting an extra 5 kilos or running an extra kilometre. Every time you achieve your weekly goal, the bar must be raised for the next week. Make sure that you’re not setting goals that are too far-fetched or too simple.

Create a routine

Having a structure to your exercise can also keep you motivated. It could be worth having a fixed time that you exercise every week. If you’re exercising multiple days a week, consider have specific days for specific activities. For example, a leg day and an arms day or a cardio day and a weights day. Some people may find it beneficial to follow exercises in a specific order, sticking to a certain amount of reps – just make sure that you’re tweaking this from week to week so that you’re progressing. Other people may prefer to vary it up slightly from week to week – if you’re running you may want to plan different routes. Just make sure you plan your exercise an hour beforehand so that it’s not entirely spontaneous.

Record your progress

Recording your progress will spur you on by showing you that you are making headway. There are all kinds of ways to do this. If you’re trying to lose weight, you could try stepping on the scales each week. Each weight can then be recorded so that you can look back at the past weeks and see how far you’ve come. If you’re more interested in the physical changes, you could measure your dimensions from week to week. You may want someone to take these for you, although it’s possible to take measurements by yourself. Selfies in the mirror are another way of visually recording your improvements.

There are lots of ways to record this information. You could write down your progress in a diary. Alternatively, you could track it using an app – there are plenty of free fitness apps out there that can be used to record everything from weight loss to the number of steps you’ve walked. This is all good for privately monitoring progress, although some people may feel more motivated to record progress publicly. This could take the form of posting selfies on social media or writing your own fitness blog. This does put you under threat of public criticism, but it might also prompt you to work harder knowing that other people are monitoring your progress too.


Get a training buddy

Not everyone is motivated by training alone. Some people need a training buddy who can encourage them to get off the sofa on a rainy day and stick to the routine. This training buddy ideally should be someone on a similar fitness level to yourself – someone less fit than you might make you work less hard, whilst someone more fit than you might make you feel worthless. Make sure that they are the type of person to encourage you and not the type of person that is willing to give in when you do or say discouraging remarks.

Another option could be to join a weekly fitness class. This could be a spin class or a regimental boot camp or a jogging club. Here you have the camaraderie of lots of different people. However, these clubs may only be good for those wanting to improve their general fitness – the nature of the exercise is likely to change from week to week, which makes it not good for those chasing a specific personal goal.

Hire a trainer

You could consider hiring a personal trainer to put you through your paces. These trainers are able to come up with an exercise routine catered to your goal, whether it be weight loss, endurance running or strength training. They may also be able to cater for specific needs such as pregnancy or mobility problems or heart conditions. You’ll find trainers working at gyms across the world. Some work independently and can be privately hired to come around your house or work with you outdoors, although these trainers will generally charge more for their services. Some people may prefer to take up a sport such as Yoga and Pilates - it’s possible to hire a private instructor for such sports who can get you fit whilst learning a new hobby.

Gear up for all weathers

This applies largely to outdoor exercise. If you’re taking up jogging or cycling or another outdoor activity to stay fit, the weather can play a large part in demotivating you. For those cold and wet days, it’s worth investing in the right clothing. Thermal clothing using materials such as merino wool can keep you warm, whilst allowing your body to breathe and not getting smelly. Waterproof materials such as Gore-tex can meanwhile help to keep you dry. These materials ought to be light, otherwise the added weight could interfere with your progress (although when raining you probably will notice that you’re not meeting the mark due to having to negotiate puddles and possibly run into the wind).

Another option could be to buy indoor gym equipment that does the job such as a treadmill for jogging or an exercise bike for cycling. Many of these machines can still monitor the distance you’re travelling, as well as coming with different difficulty setting for simulating different speeds or inclines.

Turn daily activities into exercise

Exercise doesn’t have to done using gym equipment. Some people may find that they’re more easily able to fit exercise into their weekly schedule simply by combining it with other activities. Exercise can easily be combined with housework – you could try doing squats whilst washing dishes or lunges whilst hoovering. The act of lifting things to clean under them and scrubbing things meanwhile can be an exercise itself. Another activity that can be turned into exercise is commuting. Rather than driving or taking public transport to travel short distances to work, you could consider cycling or walking.


Tune in

If you find the act of exercise boring, you might be able to combine it with other activities that you do enjoy to further motivate you such as listening to music. Lots of people stream music on their phones through headphones whilst exercising as a way of keeping them motivated. Just be careful if you’re jogging or cycling as wearing headphones could make you less aware of dangers around you.

There’s also the option of watching TV whilst you exercise. You could prop a treadmill or an exercise bike in front of the TV and catch up on your favourite shows whilst getting fit. It’s the best of both worlds.  

Reward your good efforts

It’s okay to reward yourself for your efforts. This could include snacking on unhealthy foods after a workout – ideally this shouldn’t be done after every workout as you could be undoing all that you’ve just achieved, but it won’t hurt after the odd workout. Another healthier reward could be to treat yourself to some relaxation time. If you’re going to the gym and they have a sauna, you could consider using this afterwards. Alternatively, you could go home and have a hot bath or relax in front of the TV. What you don’t want to do is put yourself through a gruelling task directly after exercise. You’ll learn to associate exercise with that gruelling task. For example, many people that exercise before going to work find that they then associate exercise with work. Going to the gym after work might be more satisfying as you can treat yourself to relaxation time afterwards.

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