Motivation to exercise is highly individual. While some come by it naturally, others have to actively cultivate it—and for many of us, it just depends on the day or what the weather’s doing. There are also times when we may feel that we’re not getting anywhere results-wise, and the thought “why bother?” seems like our mind’s final word on the matter.
I usually enjoy working out, but there are certainly days when I feel so tired that the mere idea of changing into a sports bra only further exhausts me. If you have those days, too, or if you’re in a bit of a workout rut, here are some ways to motivate you to workout when you know you should, but your mind/body/soul are resisting the endeavor.
1. Make your workout about you. By now, we’ve all heard the maxim that we’re more likely to exercise if we enjoy the style of workout we’re doing. While this is generally true, there are times when our favorite workouts simply don’t beckon us. (Even this yoga fanatic gets tired of downward dog!). It may be worth mentally reframing your exercise session as much-needed “you” time—whether that’s time spent with workout buddies, in a glam pilates studio, or with yourself in a calming, quiet space. Reminding yourself that your workout is a welcome break from the demands of work and other obligations may help make it more palatable on a low-motivation day.
2. To that end, tailor your workout to your mood. Different days may call for different styles of exercise. Don’t hesitate to skip HIIT for restorative yoga if you need a moment of soothing, self-love—or, if the mood strikes, throw yourself an impromptu solo dance party and get sweating to your favorite beats. Confession: If I want to feel elegant, I’ll play classical music and do some ballet barre exercises, but if I feel restless and over-caffeinated, I’ll go for a run around the neighborhood and listen to some upbeat Top 40s.
3. Speaking of running and music, create a motivating playlist for high-intensity or cardio workouts. This should be a no-shame playlist. So if Britney Spears circa 1998 gets your blood pumpin’ then listen away! The only rule that applies is if it makes you want to get up and move, add it! Serious runners may also want to check out the relationship between running pace and beats per minute (bpm) and cultivate a playlist around that.
4. Branch out. Sometimes an exercise rut will leave you less than motivated to get moving. If you can relate, plan ahead to try a new style of exercise, a new gym, or a new running route. Not knowing what to expect (other than a good workout can make exercise exciting again. Here’s list of the hottest new workout classes in the U.S.
5. Reward yourself. Sometimes vague rewards like “getting fit” or “feeling great” aren’t enough to get us motivated to regularly exercise. A more tangible, immediate award will sometimes do the trick, however. A healthy treat (like a low-sugar green juice) or a promise to watch a rerun of your favorite show or run a hot bath scented with essential oils are excellent ways to reward yourself after a good workout. Hopefully, the positive associations you have with these rewards will help workouts become a habit.
Yummy green juice?
Or amazing post-workout bath?
6. Problem solve obstacles between you and your workout. There are often practical issues that make getting in a workout all the more challenging. We’re often limited on time and energy, and sometimes working out just doesn’t seem practical. For example, say you want to workout in the morning, but you often wake up feeling groggy, and it feels far simpler head straight to the coffee maker. A few solutions to this problem could include going to be early enough, so you feel well rested when you wake up and setting out your workout gear the night before, so there is minimal effort needed to workout in the morning.
7. Finally, remind yourself of the science of exercise. I love reading about the benefits of regular exercise because it’s a natural motivator to stop dragging my feet. Beyond exercise’s role in helping maintain a healthy weight, it’s critical in anti-aging skin and reducing anxiety. You can also make a list of all of the benefits you’ve personally experienced from exercise in the past. For me, that list includes sleeping better, feeling more confident and “at home” in my body, and gaining much-needed perspective on random life stressors.
How do you get motivated to workout?
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