6 Easy Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out
We all occasionally feel unmotivated to work out, and sometimes even just lacing up your sneakers for a walk can feel daunting. Not to mention, with our busy lives, it's always easy to find an excuse...I'm too tired. I don't have time today. I don't feel great. I've got too much going on! Work is too stressful.
Yet, research shows that exercise can improve our mental and physical health, boost our energy and reduce anxiety and depression. It's one of the things that we know will make us feel better. And it's increasingly important to maintain a healthy routine in our current environment, where so many things are outside of our control.
So, let's look at five easy ways to get yourself motivated to exercise, even when you don't want to.
Rise and Shine
If at all possible, get up and go early before you have time to talk yourself out of it! As the day goes on, there's a much greater likelihood that something happens and your workout can get sidetracked.
Get up and put on your workout clothes and shoes. Wear something that makes you feel good about yourself (we love these super-comfy and stylish picks from Centric Fitness). If you're dressed and ready, you've got no excuse and can get in at least a few minutes of exercise.
If things don't go according to plan, don't give up—move to plan B. If you planned on going for a run, but woke up to a thunderstorm get in a body weight workout or do an online yoga class instead!
Related: How to Jog Off 10 Pounds
Make a Meeting with Yourself
You wouldn't miss a meeting with your boss, would you? Treat your workouts like you would treat a meeting with your boss. Put it on your calendar. Write it down in your planner. Schedule it into your phone or computer calendar.
My clients who have the greatest success at maintaining their exercise routine block off their time on their calendar and are religious about taking it—even if it's just 30 minutes.
When you schedule your workouts, you are creating a plan. And when you have something planned, you are much more likely to adhere to the plan.
In the beginning, schedule your workout the day before. And as you get into the routine, create a schedule for the entire week. Even if you aren't feeling 100%, you're much more likely to go ahead and get in your workout if you're reminded whenever you look at your phone or planner.
Find a Workout Friend
When you're accountable to someone other than yourself, chances are you're going to show up even when you're lacking motivation.
Having a workout buddy is a huge motivator, especially on days when you'd just rather pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep or skip your workout because of a busy schedule. You don't want to disappoint your friend or leave them in the lurch by not showing up, right?
Ask a friend to join you for a walk or a jog or to meet you for a class. Similar to scheduling your workouts, working out with a friend makes you plan ahead. And then it takes it one step further by adding accountability.
If you're not able to get together with another person, try connecting with a workout buddy via the phone or on social media. I know two friends who have been accountability partners for each other, even though one lives in Atlanta and the other lives in Los Angeles. They chat, share their MyFitnessPal and don't want to disappoint each other by not following through with their plans.
Choose a Workout That You Enjoy
What sports did you play as a kid? What activities do you feel like you do best? What kind of exercise is most fun for you? These are all questions I ask my new clients.
Finding a form of exercise that you enjoy is going to make getting out and going to do it SO much easier! And when you're feeling unmotivated, doing something you're good at and you enjoy is much easier to talk yourself into than something you don't find enjoyable.
Try new classes—almost every fitness, yoga or Pilates studio and personal trainer will offer a complimentary first class or first session. Try different types of exercise until you find what you like best! If you're having trouble finding classes due to our current virtual reality, many studios, gyms and trainers are also offering virtual options.
Not sure what's available? Just ask! YouTube also provides almost unlimited possibilities when it comes to options for exercise and the benefit there is that if you aren't enjoying the class, just click out of it and try something different.
Turn Up the Music to Match Your Mood
My go-to motivation if I've tried all of the above and I'm still feeling blah is to simply turn up the music and move. I personally love how music can impact my workouts and I have different playlists for different moods.
Feeling angry? Throw on hard rock or rap, turn it up loud and hit the punching bag, do some ball slams or a few intervals on the treadmill. Try something that really gets your heart rate up and blood flowing.
Lacking energy? Put on something fun—songs that you know all the words to so that you can sing along. Get silly—belt out those songs, take a quick dance break, jump around like you're at a concert and then get on with your workout.
Feeling sad? Think of the songs that take you back to happy, carefree times in your life. For me, it's the songs of my childhood that my parents loved—Motown classics like Stevie Wonder, The Temptations and The Four Tops. Chances are once you get moving, you'll not only get a great workout, but you'll also end up with a smile on your face.
Fake It 'Til you Make It
Some days you just have to fake it 'til you make it. We all have those days when we just don't feel super motivated. And that's OK! On those days, make sure you have something scheduled, tell a friend that you're going to do it, throw on some music and move. Even if it's just a quick walk around the block with your dog, you'll feel so much better afterwards. In my experience, it's the days that I feel the least motivated that I need the workout the most.
Julie is an ACE certified personal trainer, certified yoga instructor and corporate wellness manager. She also operates Training and Champagning, a curated wellness and travel company.