How to find the motivation to exercise

Expert fitness advice

We know exercise is great for us and that we will feel better for starting and sticking to a routine, but sometimes it’s just so hard to get out there and do it

The benefits of exercise are numerous... toned limbs, a trim tummy, reduced risk of developing cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, increased self-esteem and energy levels as well as more manageable stress levels. But sometimes finding the desire to get moving can be so difficult! Here's how to find and keep the motivation to exercise.

Find a compelling reason

According to motivational speaker and personal trainer Lee-Anne Wan, “the best way to motivate yourself to exercise is to find compelling reasons for exercising in the first place. If you don’t have these, don’t expect to be exercising for very long,” she says. “These can be anything from getting fitter to run a 5km race to fitting a pair of slim jeans. The key, is that it has to be something that’s important to you.”

Make exercise the easy choice

Lee-Ann claims that she has some other tricks she likes to use on herself, because “even we trainers need the odd kick in the butt now and again! Exercise first thing in the morning to avoid putting it off and eventually running out of time. Wear your exercise gear around the house as this gets you in the mood and makes it easy to head off for a run or to the gym without taking time to change your clothes or your mind. Book appointments that you can walk or run to and get some extra cardio in. Have a ten minute target - I use this rule when I feeling a bit lazy. I promise to do ten minutes and say that if I still can’t be bothered after ten minutes is up, I can leave. 90 per cent of the time I stay and have a really good workout.”

Formulate a plan

Sara Chatwin, Psychologist and mentor to many of New Zealand’s elite individual and team athletes says that even when we are determined to get ourselves fit, sometimes finding the motivation is difficult. “We often let excuses and reasons not to exercise overtake our ability to actually get off the couch and into action. However, if we put certain strategies in place, we can achieve the things we want. If you have exercise goals it's often best to formalise a plan for your week and month that gives you a clear view of what you need to do. Set down times that you can commit to exercise and stick to your plan. Many people coerce or cajole a friend to join them just to 'keep things honest'. Irrespective of month or season these patterns should be adhered to and sooner than later what started off as a drudge, becomes more of a reflex and less of a pain! Key words are: (1) discipline (2) commitment (3) plan (4) pattern and (5) fun....Now do it!” Says Sara.

Priotise yourself

“Prioritise yourself!” Says personal trainer, Hamish Abbie. “No matter what you have planned for your day, week, month or year, it’s irrelevant if you don't have your health. Put yourself at the top of your priority list and stay there. Lock it in, schedule your training sessions into your diary and stick to them.” Hamish also suggests variety and recruiting a personal trainer. “A PT will design your program, set your goals, keep you accountable and provide you with fresh, effective and interesting workouts.”

Want more advise on how to get active? Ensure you're sleeping well and eating well to keep your energy levels high. And remember to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for daily affirmations and inspiration!

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