Posted - December 28, 2009

Ten Exercise Tips to Stay Motivated

Starting a fitness program is much easier than sticking with one. Learn how to stay motivated and on-track when boredom or lagging willpower strike.

Tips for Staying Motivated

Use these tips to get up and keep you moving. Once you start to see results, it will be easier to stay motivated.

1. Set fitness goals. Start with short-term goals and work your way toward long-term goals. Be realistic and focus on goals that are achievable so that you’ll be less likely to get frustrated and quit. Write your goals down and be as specific as possible about when and for how long you’ll work out, while still giving yourself a little wiggle room for the unpredictable nature of real life.

2. Start out slowly. This goes hand-in-hand with creating realistic goals. If you haven’t worked out in a while (or ever), don’t promise yourself that you’ll run two miles a day. Ease into a fitness routine with a short daily walk and build on your success as exercise becomes easier.

3. Spice things up with variety. Give yourself a wide range of fitness activities to choose from to avoid boredom. Alternate walking with biking. Join a gym and try a couple of fitness classes. Play a team or family sport as part of your cardio routine.

4. Have fun. If you’re not enjoying an exercise activity, try something else. Take a different class, join a league, or switch up your home-workout videos. If you’re not having fun, you’re much more likely to quit on your workout goals.

5. Add exercise to your daily routine. One common reason people give up on their fitness program is because they don’t have time. Make time. Workout over lunch, run on the treadmill while you watch TV at night, or take the family on a walk after dinner.

6. Write it down. Write down your goals and your results. If you’re trying to lose weight, keep track of your weekly weigh-ins. As you see the benefits of your exercise, you’re more likely to stick with it.

7. Get a buddy. Join a fitness class with a friend or go for walks with your partner. Working out with someone else will make you more likely to show up on days you might otherwise be tempted to skip.

8. Keep a workout journal. Keep track of what activities you do, how long you’re able to work out, and how you feel afterward. You’ll be able to monitor your progress and see that you’re getting stronger the longer you stick with your routine.

9. Reward yourself. After your daily workout, take a minute to relax and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Set up external rewards for meeting short-term and long-term goals��”positive reinforcements are powerful motivators when you feel like giving up. 

10. Be flexible. Life gets busy. If you have to skip a day of working out because you’re busy, sick, or just too tired, give yourself a break. One day off your fitness program doesn’t mean you have to start all over. Resolve to pick up where you left off the next day.

The best way to stick with a fitness program is to start seeing physical activity as part of a more active lifestyle. Know that the more time you invest in sticking with your fitness program, the more likely it is that exercise will become a natural part of your daily routine.