7 Ways to motivate yourself to exercise

Reader's Digest Editors

Seven surprising ways to set your mind on getting active, and getting fit. 

 1. Make your fitness goals known

tell your family you intend to exercise

Tell your family, friends, and coworkers about your fitness goals and encourage them to ask you how you’re doing with meeting them.

Knowing that everyone is watching you provides great motivation to stick to your goals, says Lindsay Wombold, Healthy Horizons program assistant at Butler University in Indianapolis, US.

 

2. Make an appointment with your doctor

This isn’t something docs are very good at, so it’s up to you to start the conversation. Ask about your health and how becoming more physically fit can help you become healthier. Then ask for some advice.

A government study found just three hours of advice and counselling by doctors and other health-care professionals over two years boosted couch potatoes’ physical fitness.

Read more: How to speak to your doctor

 

3. Hire a personal trainer for one hour

hire a personal trainer

In addition to the workout, you’ll get, ask the trainer to set your fitness goals for the year. A study from researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that if you’re new to exercising, you’ll do better if you have a fitness professional determine your goals rather than going it alone.

That means setting the weights on machines for you, determining how long you should walk or run, giving you a time limit for the treadmill, StairMaster, or elliptical trainer. The reason for the improved results? The self-confidence you get when an expert believes in you and thinks you can reach a certain goal.

You only need to hire the trainer for an hour to get your goals set. Of course, if you want to continue working with them, that’s a good thing too!

 

4. Think fit living, not just workouts

The exercise industry makes more money when everyone thinks of fitness only in terms of formal workouts. But even if you spend three hours a week in the gym, what of the other 100-plus waking hours we have each week? Truth is, fit people go about their entire day living in a high-energy way. Not only is it fun and motivating; these ongoing spurts of everyday activity add up to a whole lot of fitness. So how do you live fit? Here are easy examples:

  • Stand up and walk around whenever you get on the phone.
  • Always take the steps, not the escalator or elevator.
  • And when you take the steps, try for two at a time!
  • Stand up and move around during every TV commercial break.
  • Routinely stretch your arms, legs, and back.
  • Carry stuff more often—garden supplies, groceries, laundry.

 

5. Do it for charity

donate to charity

Some of us get greater satisfaction helping others than helping ourselves. If you fall in that category, then find a way to use your charitable nature to motivate you to exercise.

For example, donate £1 to a favourite charity for every mile you walk. Donate £10 for every pound you lose. Or commit to several fund-raising events per year that involve walking, biking, dancing, or a sports match.

 

6. Be creative with your measurements

There are so many ways to measure fitness that you can quickly become paralysed by them all. Is it my weight? Body mass index? Pulse? Is it mileage covered, pounds lifted, calories burned, minutes of activity?

For maximum motivation, focus on what matters most to you: Do you feel better than you used to? Do you look better than you used to? Are your clothes less tight? Can you see a difference in the mirror? Are your improvements getting noticed by others?

 

7. Fly to your next race

fly to a marathon

Sign up for a walkathon or race that requires a flight to get there. Book your flight at the same time that you sign up for the race, even if it’s six months away.

The motivation to train for the race (which will cost you in terms of a lost reservation if you chicken out) will keep you more motivated than any personal coach.