1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Getting Motivated to Exercise

By

Updated June 13, 2014

Getting motivated to exercise is always easy when you're planning it for the future. That early morning workout at the gym on Monday is just what you need to get back on track. You may even be excited about it...right up until the alarm goes off and you actually have to follow through. It's then you realize that all those things that motivated you a few days ago are suddenly nowhere to be found.

So, why does exercise seem great until we actually have to do it? If a lack of motivation is what's hampering you then maybe we need to figure out just what motivation is. Is it a feeling? An action? Or a little bit of both?

What Is Motivation?

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines motivation as "that which gives purpose and direction to behavior." By that definition, we're looking for something to drive us to exercise, something to get us moving. So where does that 'something' come from? For some people, like athletes, it may come from the desire to compete and to win. For others, it may come from a desire to be healthy or live longer for their kids. For most, losing weight is often the goal. But is that enough to motivate us? Judging from our obesity problems, that would be a no.

The problem with motivation is that many of us believe it's something that will come to us if we wait long enough...that someday we'll wake up and finally want to exercise. Rather than believe in that fantasy, maybe we'd all be better off by realizing that motivation is something we create, not something we wait for.

Is it Possible to Get Excited About Exercise?

When do you get excited about exercise? For me, it's usually right after I've made the decision to do it at some future time. Just deciding to exercise makes me feel good...almost like I've already done something. The problem happens when it comes time to follow through and my motivation has suddenly disappeared. If that sounds like you, maybe it's time to focus your attention on what's important. Deciding to exercise is important, but it's what you do to follow through that really matters.

Redefining Motivation

I believe motivation comes from different places -- it's not based on how we feel or even something we have to wait around for. It's something we create for ourselves. Use the following elements to create your own motivation, and you'll find that exercising will be easier.

Goals

You already know that the first step in motivating yourself is having something to work for. It doesn't matter whether that's a weight loss goal or a goal to run a marathon -- anything that gives you reason to exercise will work. And don't think you have to set only one goal. You can set as many goals as you like, whenever you like. Set daily goals (I'll walk for 20 minutes today), weekly goals (I'll get a minimum of 3 workouts in), or even hourly goals (I'll get up every 45 minutes and walk around the building). Always having something to work for, big or small, is just one way to keep yourself going.

Next Page: More Elements of Self-Motivation

Related Video
Simple Exercise Warm Up
Develop Exercise Habits With Your Children

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.