Physical 

Get Motivated to Exercise With These Time-Tested Tips

December 26, 2020 6 min read

Woman running outside near the coast

At a glance

Although health experts suggest exercising for at least 20 minutes a day, many of us fall far short of that goal. And unfortunately, this lack of fitness has been linked to an array of negative health outcomes. According tothe CDC, neglecting to exercise can raise your odds of suffering from multiple conditions, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Given these risks and the affliction of a pandemic, it’s no surprise that more people are wondering how to get motivated to exercise.

While any number of factors can prevent us from hitting the gym, lack of motivation is one of the top excuses people provide. Between long workdays and busy home lives, many Americans find it hard to get up off the couch and move. Moreover, our internal dialogue can prevent us from getting enough exercise. We might tell ourselves that getting in shape is too hard or that we’d look silly trying to use the weight-training machines at our local gym. Even those who enjoy working out may struggle to get out of bed and hit the jogging trail on chilly mornings.

Whether you’ve been working out for years or are just now adopting an active lifestyle, staying motivated is the key to success. Keep reading to learn more about why people lose the motivation to exercise, along with tips for achieving your health and fitness goals in the coming months.

Why people lose motivation to work out

Most Americans want to get fit. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 75% of adults felt staying in shape was “very important” to them. Moreover, about the same number of people said there was something about their body that they wanted to change. While getting healthy is clearly on people’s minds, Americans seem to have trouble sticking to an exercise regimen. Just 31% of Americans reported exercising regularly, and almost half admitted they weren’t active at all. 

So, why are people struggling to get motivated to exercise? One issue might be that people don’t know the best ways to stay fit. According to one study, almost a quarter of people are uncertain about what form of exercise is best for their body type. Moreover, even if they want to try new activities, they may hesitate due to insecurity or intimidation. As a result, individuals often adhere to a workout routine that doesn’t meet their needs or skip the gym altogether.

The fear of looking foolish is a big reason Americans avoid the gym. In fact, 50% of Americans get anxious at the thought of working out amidst others. And over 30% find the idea of getting in shape to be daunting. These negative thoughts can cause people to lose motivation and prevent them from getting the exercise they need to stay healthy.

Woman checking her fitness tracker at the park while on a run

The importance of exercising

Many people exercise out of a desire to lose weight. But maintaining an active lifestyle results in countless benefits for your health and wellness, beyond just your appearance. Here are just a few of the advantages associated with working out regularly:

Enhanced energy

Between responsibilities at work and home, many of us struggle to stay active and energized. While it might seem counterintuitive, getting more exercise can actually boost your energy levels over the long term. 

One recent study showed that regular exercise leads to a lower likelihood of suffering from fatigue. Moreover, those with chronic fatigue syndrome found their energy levels increased after engaging in exercise therapy

Superior mental health

Working out doesn’t just improve your physical health. On the contrary, those who hit the gym regularly report a boost in mood compared to those who are less active. 

In a study involving 24 women with depression, even light exercise resulted in a significant mood boost. Additionally, research shows that regular exercise can alleviate stress and anxiety while boosting concentration.

Longer lifespan

Just about everyone is looking for ways to live longer while maintaining a good quality of life. One of the many benefits of physical activity is that it reduces your odds of suffering from diseases. 

In fact, regular exercise is proven to boost cardiovascular health while reducing blood pressure and body fat percentage. As a result, individuals are less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, and cancer later in life. 

How to get motivated to exercise

Just because you know exercise is crucial for your health doesn’t mean it’s easy to stay motivated. With so many responsibilities competing for your time, it’s easy to skip the gym in favor of watching a few hours of Netflix or getting to bed early. Here are some tips on how to get motivated to exercise and stop making excuses:

Put it on your calendar

It’s easy to blow off a workout when you have only casual plans to attend. If you want to increase your odds of going on that jog or attending that Zoom barre class, make a habit of putting it on your calendar. Studies show that scheduling your workout helps ensure that you exercise more regularly.

Stay flexible

While scheduling exercise sessions is an excellent way to stick to your goals, don’t sweat it if your plans are occasionally interrupted. You may feel discouraged or unmotivated having to reschedule a workout, but the key is to stay flexible and adjust your exercise plans as needed. Just because you didn’t make it to your Monday workout doesn’t mean you can’t get right back on track come Tuesday.

Find a friend

Staying motivated can be challenging when there’s no one to hold you accountable. If you find that you’re skipping a lot of workout sessions, you might try finding a friend with similar workout goals. When you have someone counting on you to show up, you’re less likely to cancel a session at the last minute so you can sleep in. 

Set small goals

It’s easy to get discouraged when your goals feel insurmountable. After all, losing 50 pounds or achievingsix-pack abs can take months, if not years. One of the best ways to stay motivated is to set smaller, more attainable goals. For example, you could set out to run a mile without having to stop or aim to drop down a size in jeans. Don’t hesitate to celebrate these accomplishments by doing something fun or special. 

Man going on a run outdoors

How to stay motivated during a workout

Even if you do make it to the gym, you might struggle to stay motivated during your exercise session. While some fitness fanatics find themselves hitting a wall, others simply get bored performing the same exercises or routines every day. Here are some ways to keep your workouts fun and challenging:

Follow the 3 x 10 rule

If you’re feeling discouraged with your current workout regimen—or you’re just too busy to spend an hour at the gym every night—you might want to consider the 3 X 10 rule. In this system, participants engage in three 10-minute workouts each day rather than getting all their physical activity in at once. For example, you could take a 10-minute walk at lunch, perform some squats and crunches before dinner, and get in aquick yoga routine before bed. Along with keeping your time commitment to a minimum, this option varies your routine to prevent boredom.

Join a challenge

Some people are competitive by nature. If you have trouble staying motivated on your own, think about taking part in a challenge. These days, social media is packed with challenges to help you lose weight and get fit. You could focus on squatting, planking, crunching, or running. As a bonus, challenges connect you with other fitness fanatics around the world or right in your backyard. 

Take a day off

Working out every day can lead to mental and physical exhaustion, along with overworked muscles. If you’ve exercised a few days in a row, don’t be afraid to take time off tolet your body rest and recover.

In summary

Several studies show that Americans aren’t getting enough exercise. As a result, many adults are at a higher risk of developing health problems like heart disease and diabetes. If you want to raise your energy levels and live longer, working out 30 minutes or more a day is one of the best steps you can take for yourself. 

While it’s clear that regular exercise is essential to maintaining health and wellness, staying motivated to work out isn’t easy. Even devoted fitness aficionados may find their workout routines getting stale from time to time. From scheduling your sessions in advance to working out with a pal, there are various ways to stay motivated and on-track to achieving your goals. 

April Maguire - Contributing Writer, Physician’s Choice 

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