You come in from a long day at the office, and you want to get a workout in, but you can’t find the motivation. Or maybe you think you have workout motivation, but “life” is getting in the way.
Making your workout a priority and finding ways to fit it into your schedule will offer you various health benefits, help you lose weight, and make you feel like you’ve got your mojo back.
Getting workout motivation will be a lot easier if you view it as a gift you give to yourself rather than a distasteful activity you have to get through. Think about your health and vitality — by working out, you are treating yourself as a priority, and it’s coming from a place of self-love.
How to Boost Your Workout Motivation
Studies show that regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory and thinking skills. So if you’re using the excuse that work is taking too much of your time to work out, think of your workout as a part of your workday. You’re helping your brain be sharper at work.
“Healthy exercise is valuable not only for the maintenance of good physiologic function of the body, but also mental clarity, and the feeling of good health.” -Paul Dudley White, MD
Once you’re ready to make your fitness goals a priority and give yourself the gift of regular exercise routines, how do you include your workout plans in your daily life?
Here are 13 ways to boost your exercise motivation. These strategies will help you keep your fire for working out going strong.
1. Commit to Your Calendar
Anytime you say, “I don’t have time,” you simply say that in your list of priorities, that particular task falls behind more important ones.
Often, what we think we want to do is not what is most important to us. If it was, we would have figured out a way to do it.
Say you want to work out for 30 minutes 3 times a week. Look at your calendar for that week and see where those spots will fit in the best. Then, make a commitment to stick to those times.
One exercise study showed that a big obstacle to maintaining regular exercise is being able to fit it into a person’s schedule. Make these appointments with yourself unbreakable.
2. Start Your Day With a 20 Minute Workout
You may have great intentions of working out after work or during a lunch hour, but inevitably other commitments will encroach into that time and kill your workout motivation.
If you get on up and knock out your workout first thing, you reap the benefits of that energy boost all day long. This workout could be a morning walk or hitting the yoga mat right when you get out of bed.
3. Expand Your Horizons and Seek Out Variety
Our brains crave variety. If you are stuck in the rut of the same old workout routine, it might be time to stretch yourself.
Brainstorm some wild ideas that sound appealing to you. Look for fencing classes in your area. See if there’s a place near you where you can rent kayaks and look for some local outdoor clubs where you could go kayaking with others.
Even if the new thing you try is challenging, give yourself some time to stick with it enough to see if it might be for you.
4. Include Social Time in Your Workout
Having a hard time fitting in a workout because of your social life? Instead of only getting together with your friends at the wine bar, see if you can schedule a hike in the park with them, or you could join a rec league like kickball.
You could talk a friend into becoming your accountability partner, or you could sign up by yourself and meet some new pals.
Studies show that having an accountability partner mushrooms your exercise frequency and success. Talk to some of your friends, find someone in your community with the same schedule as you, and you’ll find it easier to motivate yourself to work out.
Maybe you have a friend who would love to hike in the early morning before work, or maybe you know someone that would like to hit a dance class right after work ends. Knowing that you have to meet someone else will make you think twice about blowing off your workout.
You don’t have to include your partner in all your workouts, but even if you meet this person once a week, that will give you a boost to want to keep your workout going on other days. If you really feel that you need an accountability partner all the time, then find 2-3 people and meet them 2-3 times a week
Other opportunities include playing basketball or tennis at local parks, gyms, or fitness centers. Scope out ways to make your workout more social or combine fitness activities with your social life to create more workout motivation.
5. Use Music to Inspire You
Is your playlist stale? Spend some time creating a great workout playlist. Search Spotify or create some motivating stations on Pandora.
Tempo and intensity drive the efficacy of a song for working out. The right tempo can improve performance drastically.
Think about what songs make you move. If you hear that song, you just can’t sit still. Even the theme song from Rocky might be a good motivator for you.
You can create multiple theme playlists to spark more creativity and fun in your workout. How about making a playlist of the Best All-Time Roller Skating Songs? Or Best Heavy Metal Workout Songs? Best 80’s Workout Playlist (maybe it includes Let’s Get Physical). Music can help you get the motivation to work out.
6. Listen to Interesting Podcasts
If music isn’t really your thing, download podcasts or audiobooks that interest you. Getting lost in a good podcast or audiobook can make the time fly by during your workout. Also, you get the satisfaction of “multi-tasking” — you’re getting your exercise in while reading a book or staying up to date on a podcast.
For an extra boost of workout motivation, if you’re listening to an audiobook, stop it at a cliffhanger and decide not to listen again until the next time you work out. This will motivate you to start exercising so you can know exactly what happens.
7. Update Your Gear
Maybe you’re not up for working out because your workout gear is from the dark ages. If you pull out a T-shirt for your workout, and it’s full of holes, it’s time to re-do your workout wardrobe.
Think of getting new workout gear as investing in yourself. How often do we ensure our living rooms or kitchens are up to par, but we don’t put any time, energy, or money into our personal effects?
It could be as simple as getting a new water bottle or ensuring you have supportive and properly fitting shoes. This is key to achieving your workouts. Getting a new workout tee or tights can motivate you to get moving.
8. Get Organized for Your Workout
Set out what you need as motivation for your workout. If you are going on a morning run, lay out your workout clothes alongside some motivational quotes the night before. Fill your water bottle and set it on the counter.
For the after-work exercisers, pack your bag of clothes to take with you to work, so you have no excuse not to go to the gym. If you are coming home after work, set your clothes out so that when you come home, they will be a not-so-gentle reminder to you saying, “It’s time to go on your walk!”
9. Use Alarms as Nudging Reminders
So you’re not a morning person. If you think getting up earlier to squeeze a workout in before work is just not going to happen for you, then set an alarm for the time you need to start preparing for your workout in the afternoon/evening.
If you want to go for a walk at 6 pm, set the alarm for 5:30 pm as a reminder. When you hear the alarm, it’s a workout motivation reminder. You don’t want to shirk your health and fitness.
10. Trade Exercise for That After-Work Happy Hour
Maybe you are skipping some workouts to meet co-workers at happy hour, or you come in from a long day at work and have a glass of wine first thing to alleviate the stress of the day. While it’s sometimes nice to unwind with a glass of wine, doing so after work could become a habit, and you can replace that habit with exercise.
Cutting out alcohol right after work gives you more time in the day to get a workout in. Try to go straight from work to your workout, or put your exercise clothes on the minute you get home and head back out the door for your run or walk. Whatever it is, think of that happy hour as a new kind of “happy hour time” for your to treat yourself and your body to your workout.
Exercise can help stave off anxiety and depression, so if your post-work drink is to alleviate post-work stress and anxiety, give a neighborhood walk a whirl instead.
11. Eat Something Fresh
What we eat and drink is related to how we feel, so if you don’t know how to motivate yourself to work out, start with a healthy snack. If you’re not eating well, commit to eating at least one fresh item daily. You can have an apple as an afternoon snack or a little salad with dinner.
Sometimes, we’re so busy that we don’t realize we’ve not been eating as fresh as we’d like. By making the conscious choice to seek out some fresh food, you’re taking care of yourself, in turn, making you think about similar choices when it comes to exercise.
Another benefit is that if you’re eating well, you may feel “lighter” and have more energy to work out.
12. Drink Lots of Water
Sometimes the simplest rules are the most important. We all know we are supposed to be hydrated throughout the day. However, it’s easy to forget that we’ve yet to drink water. For example, if you’re busy all day at work and you’ve nursed a big tumbler of coffee all morning, suddenly it might be early afternoon and you realize you haven’t had any water to drink in the day.
Drinking water boosts mood and decreases fatigue. One study found that limiting water intake causes a significant increase in thirst and a decrease in contentment, calmness, positive emotions, and vigor/activity.
Drinking water, therefore, is one of the simplest, most effective ways to boost your motivation if you’re learning how to motivate yourself to work out.
Make sure you’re getting your water intake throughout the day, and if you’ve had coffee, drink some extra water to counteract its dehydrating effects.
13. Integrate Some Mini-Movement Into Your Day
If you go to work and sit at a desk most of the day, it will feel good to get out and move your muscles afterward. But sometimes, it seems difficult to get out of that sedentary rut and start an exercise routine.
One solution is staying in touch with your body throughout the day. Set a few timers on your phone during the day, and when they go off, take a few minutes to do different physical movements.
Stretching and doing forward bends or side bends are great ideas. You can stand against the wall and “peel” off of it, feeling each vertebra and releasing your lower back. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes around. Do calf raises, standing up and lifting your heels up and down.
Think of them as appetizers and your workout as the big meal.
Simple Ways to Help Boost Your Workout Motivation
The Bottom Line
Life sometimes gets in the way of our plans, including our plans to work out and stick to weight loss goals. However, you should maintain the attitude of self-love and give yourself the gift of making time to exercise.
By using some organizational tricks and remembering your reasons for making your workout a priority, you’ll not only find the time to fit it in, you’ll also feel good about doing so. You can use the above tips to help you stay on track with your workout motivation.
Featured photo credit: juan pablo rodriguez via unsplash.com
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