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4 Simple Ways to Stay Motivated for Exercise

By Debra Rodzinak

Are you looking for ways to stay motivated while trying to make exercise a part of your regular routine?  Many people struggle, but here are four simple ways to stay and keep motivated.

Reward Yourself

People are more likely to do something when there is an intrinsic reward at the end.  The brain can be taught that a behavior, like exercise, is worthwhile if there is a powerful and positive reason to continue the behavior.

Creating a link between the reward and the behavior increases the odds of that behavior becoming a habit.  For example, setting your shoes out next to your workout bag can signal the brain that the workout that follows is pleasurable if a pleasurable event follows the workout.  Over time, the brain will associate the actual workout with the reward, motivating you to get up and moving.

Sign a Commitment Contract

It is easy to break a promise made to ourselves, but research finds that people are more likely to follow through with promises or pledges when made in front of friends.  Up the ante by signing a contract agreeing to pay a $10 fee if you miss a workout.  The simple act of paying a penalty is often motivation enough to keep exercising.

Rethink Positive Thinking

Positive thinking has long been known as a motivational strategy.  After visualizing what you want and overcoming the obstacle, you can make a plan.  Studies have proven that the technique called “mental contrasting” helps participants stick to their goals. 

For example, if you have trouble going to the gym after work, switch to early mornings or stop on the way home first.  If you are tempted by junk food, imagine snacking on healthier foods.  By identifying the trigger and making a plan of attack, you are more likely to be successful at sticking to your goal.   

Pay Yourself

Cold, hard cash is a tremendous motivator for many people, myself included.  Studies have found that people who were paid to go to the gym doubled their attendance rate.  There are even apps out there that will pay you to reach your goal!  If you don’t make the set goal, you have to pay into a community pot of money that goes to someone else who made their goal.

No matter what method you use to motivate yourself, you know you have success when you begin to think of your workout as an integral part of your life and not some chore to be performed.  So, find your motivation and get moving to better health.


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