6 Ways to Get Motivated to Exercise, Even If You Hate It

By Jené Luciani
February 11, 2021

In modern society, time and energy are hard to come by, and it can be tough to get motivated to work out. But, research tells us it’s so important to try to get in at least 30 minutes of movement a day. So, what can you do to motivate yourself? Here are six surefire ways to get your body moving.

Style Solutions

Believe it or not, what you wear for the act of working out can be a huge motivator. “Make your workout outfit something fun,” recommends Connecticut-based Certified Personal Trainer Jolene Ballard. “If you get yourself some new clothes that you really like, it’ll give you a little extra pep in your step. When you look your best, you feel your best.” Make sure that what you choose to wear is conducive to the type of movement you’ll be doing—for example, running may require different attire than yoga—and that it’s comfortable and not too constraining.

Be Prepared

Preparation is the key to success. Anything you can do ahead of time to make it easier for yourself to exercise in the moment can help. Try laying out your clothes for your morning workout the night before, or even sleeping in your workout clothes like Kim Kendrick in Albany, New York does, so you’re ready for exercise as soon as you wake up.

“I usually work out right after work, so on those days, I wear a sports bra and workout tank under my regular clothes, so all I need to change are my pants and shoes,” says Kelly Lynch, who also lives in Albany, New York.

While prepping any necessary gear is helpful, so is staying fueled. “I prep all my meals for the week on Sunday with a meal plan, and that includes pre- and post-workout ones,” says Marisa Caprera in Schenectady, New York. You can also plan your workouts for the week in advance, and schedule them right on your calendar, so you’ll be more likely to stick to the plan.

The Great Outdoors

Many people get into an exercise rut because they’re tired of doing the same old routine. Feel free to mix it up, which may mean getting out of the gym or your home and being active elsewhere.

“Hike with your pup, explore a nature trail, ride a bike to your favorite destination, or go for a jog on the beach,” suggests Ballard. “Exercise can happen anywhere!”

Elizabeth DeRobertis, a registered dietitian in Scarsdale, New York, agrees that spending quality time with a pet can be a huge motivator. “So many of my patients have adopted dogs during the pandemic and increased their steps automatically!” she says. “It’s a great way to feel less isolated, get a new companion, and get more exercise in an enjoyable way.”

Money Motivation

Money can be a huge motivator. DeRobertis says there are a number of fitness apps that literally pay you to stay on track. “StepBet, Sweatcoin, and myWalgreens Health Goals are just a few options,” she says.

You may also be inspired to stick with your workouts if you’re raising money for charity, so sign up for a 5K fundraiser, suggests Ballard. “It’s like a double way to feel good: doing something for yourself, as well as for others.”

Catch-Up Session

A workout buddy can help hold you accountable for showing up for walks, runs, or fitness classes. If you’re social distancing, you may have to find more creative ways to stay in touch, such as video calls. Amber Browning-Coyle in New York City says if she didn’t have her daily FaceTime date with a friend, she’d never commit to hopping on her Peloton bike. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in a different state, just set a time and schedule a date with a friend to simultaneously exercise and catch up,” suggests DeRobertis. “You can both go for a walk outside, or even walk the mall.” Spending time with a friend may make the whole workout feel more enjoyable and help make the time go faster.

Aimee Majoros-Cook in Salem, New York, says she works out solo, but texts a friend each and every day to share what she’s done. “I’m so excited to share my workouts with her, that it makes me want to do even more the next day,” says Majoros-Cook.

Don’t have a friend who wants to commit? You may consider paying for a Zoom or in-person session with a personal trainer once a week, which is also a great way to stay on track.

Binge-Watch Workouts

Watching our favorite shows on the various streaming services is now commonplace, but it doesn’t have to happen while sitting on your couch. “I reward myself with the treat of watching trashy TV shows while working out. It’s something I look forward to,” says New York City Yoga Instructor Crystal Fenton.

“In my opinion, if you have time to watch TV, you have time to work out,” agrees DeRobertis. “So, by combining the two, you’ll make sure it gets done.” She suggests stashing workout gear, like small weights or exercise bands, next to or near the TV, so it’s ready to go whenever you are.

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