9 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

Even on your lazy days.

1. Work Out in the Morning

9 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

Before you roll your eyes, this is coming from someone who is NOT by any means a morning person. I fantasize about becoming one of those people who gleefully gets up at the crack of dawn, but it hasn't happened yet. In fact, I'm a night owl that struggles to go to bed before midnight. BUT, once I started working the 9-5 after college I realized the only way I'd actually exercise is if I did it first thing in the morning. Before a long day that left me only with the desire to dive into pajamas and a plate of Thai food.

Yes, it's painful to get up sometimes, but sleeping 20 more minutes doesn't make it any easier! Besides, it wakes you up more than coffee, you won't have a workout looming over you the whole day and it keeps you consistent. I've managed to run at least three mornings a week, every week, for the past six years. Which brings me to my next point...

2. Make it Routine

Even if mornings aren't an option for you, having a permanent place in your schedule for a workout makes it a million times more likely to happen. 

3. Tell Yourself It'll Only Take ___ Minutes

9 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

According to science, all you need is seven minutes to get a thorough workout. Seven minutes. The New York Times piece illustrates that you don't even need a gym membership or any special tools to make those minutes count. While your preferred workout method may take longer, telling yourself it'll only take 10, 20, 30 minutes of your day is a huge motivator. And then we can all go back to sitting on our asses eating the aforementioned Thai food.

4. Get a Workout Buddy

You've probably heard this a thousand times, but hey it works! Having a regularly scheduled run or gym sesh with a bestie keeps both of you on track and makes it more enjoyable in the process. You motivate each other on off days and you're much less likely to cancel if a friend is depending on you.

5. Take Classes You Enjoy

9 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

Class options are endless—aeroyoga, barre, boot camp, trampoline, zumba—so it's nearly impossible to find something that won't be fun for you. A weekly Pilates class is something I've incorporated in my routine and it's worth every penny. I look forward to the well-rounded toning and stretching every week and always walk out of class feeling ultra-zen. Usually you can buy classes in packs to not only save money but commit yourself to going regularly. Also check out your local Groupon for some steal deals.

6. Buy Cute Workout Clothes

It sounds silly and, yes, consumeristic—but anything that gets you excited to put on your workout clothes is a good thing. Feeling confident in them, even better.

7. Try a Tabata

9 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

My fiancé introduced me to the Tabata workout method and I've been hooked ever since. It's a similar idea to the NYT seven minute interval workout, but you get to customize it with any exercise you want—leg lifts, push-ups, jump squats, whatever you're in the mood for! And you don't have to leave your living room. Even at my laziest I can usually talk myself into doing three Tabatas, which only takes 12 minutes out of my whole day.


8. Join an Adult Sports League

Beach volleyball, badminton, tennis, soccer, dodgeball—all are social and fun while keeping you active. If you're not into competitive sports, hit up Meetup.com for walking, running or hiking groups.

9. Remind Yourself How Good You'll Feel Afterward

9 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

If I don't exercise for a few days in a row, I get irrationally irritable. Fortunately, a quick sweat session never fails to remedy my mood. When life gets chaotic, we often convince ourselves we can't afford the time or energy it takes to exercise—but to the contrary, that's exactly when we can't afford not to. It's empowering, calming and sanity saving. If that isn't a motivation, I don't know what is.

Editor, graphic designer and illustrator.