Fitness Over 40

How to Get Motivated to Exercise: A 7-Step Plan

Posted by LeeAnn Langdon on Wed, Jun 06, 2012 @ 06:47 PM

Motivation to exercise is a holy grail that some people seem to chase their whole life. So how do other people manage to make time to exercise and get excited about doing it?


Ask any regular exerciser and he or she will tell you that they don't have to get motivated; exercise is just part of the daily routine. It's as much a part of their life as brushing their teeth or checking their email. If you want to get motivated to exercise you just need to create an exercise habit. A small commitment and a little bit of planning will help you create a habit that lasts.

  1. Know what you value. get motivated to exercise 2You'll increase your odds of success dramatically if you tie your workouts to something you truly value. Working out because you "should" is a real downer, but working out so you can keep up with your grandkids (or whatever else is really meaningful to you) will get your attention every time. Identify your values and think about how your workout helps you achieve them.
  2. Commit to 30 days. New habits take time to develop. Make a commitment to keep at it for a minimum of thirty days before you give up. There is real power in choosing a finite period of time and then living up to your commitment to yourself.
  3. Create a trigger. A trigger could be an alarm on your phone to remind you to workout at a set time, or it could be a simple visual cue, like leaving your sneakers by the front door or sticking a note on your mirror. Find something that will remind you every day of your commitment.
  4. Bite off less than you can chew. This is where most people fail. They try to do too much too soon. Your goal in the first 30 days is just to do something every day. It may be as little as a walk to the end of your street and back. Force yourself to stop while you still feel like you want to do more.
  5. Buy the benefits, not the features. Every marketer knows that we buy the sizzle, not the steak. So when you're trying to talk yourself into working out remember the benefits that tie in to your values. It's not just that you'll build strong muscles (the feature) but that you'll have the strength and stamina to play with your grandkids or care for your garden (the benefit). When you talk to yourself and others, state your goal in terms of the benefit you're after.
  6. Track your progress. The simplest way to track your progress toward a new habit is with a calendar page and a pencil. You've committed to 30 days of a new behavior. Every day that you achieve that goal, mark an X in that day's square. You'll be surprised how motivating it is to see an unbroken string of Xs. After just a couple of days you won't want to break the string with a blank square.
  7. Reward your success. Build in rewards over the course of your 30-day commitment. At the end of each successful week, give yourself a pat on the back and a small reward: a pedicure, a movie, a new bracelet. Better yet, choose a reward that supports your new goal: awesome new workout clothes or a new tennis racquet.
If you've made it through all seven steps, it's time to rinse and repeat. Once you've accomplished your first 30 days commit to another 30. Most importantly, get a handle on the frequency and consistency before you give any thought to intensity. As you keep it up, your body will tell you when it wants to increase the duration or the intensity of the workouts. After you're confident that exercise (even just 10 minutes a day) is part of your daily routine you'll be ready to begin adding time, just a few minutes a day.

Before you know it, exercising will be a part of your daily routine--and one that you can't imagine living without.

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Tags: lifestyle habits, exercise, motivation

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