Motivation To Keep You Exercising

Deciding it's time to get fit and learning what you need to do is only half the battle. Whether you've just started an exercise routine or have been exercising for years, whether your fitness test result was a bronze or gold, you too are at risk of taking an extended break at some point or even quitting.

Do any of these excuses sound familiar:
- I've been really busy lately so haven't had time to exercise.
- My kids are home from school so my schedule is all messed up.
- I was sick and haven't been able to get back into it.
- My shoulder (back, neck, leg, etc.) has been bothering me.

The excuses are endless. Many are valid to keep you from your existing routine. But that doesn't mean you have to quit.

Reasons To Exercise

You've probably already gone through this exercise, but you should re-do it over and over again. Think of the reasons you started to exercise. Was it to lose weight for bathing suit season, a warning from you doctor, tired of always being tired, or some other reason. Remembering why you started often helps to keep you going.


Starting from the day you decide to get into fitness, you should have goals. Sounds easy, but creating goals to keep you motivated takes knowledge and experience. Following are a few suggestions to help you create goals for yourself:
- Create goals that are clear and concise.
- Your goals should be something that you can measure so you easy see if you're following them.
- Make your goals something that you can reach. Since it's unlikely that you'll be bigger than Arnold Schwarzenegger, don't make that your goal.
- Set a time frame for reaching your goals.

So saying your goal is something like "I want to start exercising" is not a strong goal that is likely to keep you motivated for very long. A better goal may be "I want to exercise 30 minutes, 4 days per week for a month, 2 days at the gym and 2 days cardio at home. Then increase to 40 minutes per workout."

Another weak example of a goal is "I want to lose weight". A better goal may be "I want to be able to fit into those shorts that used to fit within 2 months. I'll spend 3 days each week, 45 minutes per day on my treadmill or exercise bike, and 2 days, 30 minutes, doing planks and other body weight exercises".

Pros vs. Cons

Another useful idea for staying motivated is thinking of the pros vs. cons of exercising. The longer you've been exercising, the more pros there will be and fewer cons. But people at all levels should be able to do this.

Examples of pros are: more energy, feel good, sleep better, eat more without gaining weight, good check-up at doctors office, clothes fit better, friends say I look good, etc.

Some cons may be: takes too much time, too hot, too cold, I don't feel good, etc.

Now look at your cons. Are they really just excuses? Are any valid? Can you reverse any of the cons and make them pros? Like saying it's too cold, once you start to workout, you'll warm up.

Time Frames

As mentioned before, your goals should have time frames. But to stay motivated, you should create goals, even simple goals, with different time frames.

Long term goals are the most common. How you want to look, how you want to feel, or what you want to do some time in the future is great. But sometimes taking baby steps to reach that goal is important.

Your goals should be from time frames all the way down to each workout. I'm not saying you need to sit down and think about goals everyday before you exercise. But saying to yourself "today I'm going to complete my 3 mile run without any walking breaks" is great. You may even add to it "after I'm running 3 miles without walking breaks, I'll increase to 3 1/2 miles next week. Then I'll sign up for a 5k race". Now you have real goals and getting excited about reaching them.

Be Flexible

Today your supposed to go to the gym. It's might start snowing soon. You don't want to drive in the snow, but you know that's not a good excuse since it hasn't even started yet and you only live 10 minutes from the gym. So you convince yourself that you're not feeling so good, so you skip today's workout.

Instead, you should have modified your plans. Ok, it looks like snow and you hate driving in the snow. So workout at home. If no equipment, do body weight exercises, callisthenics and planks. Then congratulate yourself for making the most of the situation. You'll hit the gym tomorrow.

Let's say you're following a push-pull routine, and today is push day. Your shoulder is bothering you. You know doing push exercises is going to hurt, so you want to rest your shoulder another day. You just did pull exercises yesterday, so don't want to do them 2 days in a row. So you decide to take the day off.

Nothing wrong with taking an occasional unplanned day off. But if you have the desire to exercise, do something you don't normally do. Push day often means legs, so do a full day of leg workouts. Or go for a bicycle ride or run. If that's on your schedule but not for today, then take a long walk. You'll be getting exercise and burning calories, and won't feel the guilt many of us get by taking a day off.


No one ever said getting in shape was going to be easy. And sticking to your long-term exercise goals is going to be a challenge. So create some rewards for yourself for your commitment.

- You've just ran 3 miles without a walking break. Have an ice cream cone to celebrate.
- Your favorite shorts fit again. Time to buy yourself a new pair; the same size or even a size smaller (the start of a new goal for yourself).

I'm sure you can think of some rewards for yourself. Remember, you deserve it.

Get Support

Join a gym. Workout with a friend. If you can't get your spouse or a friend to join you, at least have them support your efforts. Negative people should be avoided when it comes to discussing your fitness goals.

A fun idea is to reward your family when you reach your goals. So when you run 3 miles without a walking break, take your family out for an ice cream cone. Tell them your next goal is exercise 4 days a week for 4 weeks. You'll be surprised how supportive your kids will become.

Like us on Facebook

Personal Training Certification