How to stay motivated to exercise? It can feel impossible at times! But… that doesn’t mean it is. There are actually plenty of ways to keep yourself motivated. You can find some common methods here: Master the Mental Challenge of Exercise – 20 Motivational Tips.

Yet sometimes we need something extra to find our motivation. Here you can find 10 more tips on how to stay motivated and unlock your determination.

Discover How to Stay Motivated to Exercise

1. Set a Target Date

Like a business, you need an objective and deadline. If you start blindly, you could find yourself in a constant yo-yo, making achievements and then undoing your progress. Add some aching muscles to the mix and you’ll want to throw in the towel.

Time can feel everlasting, but with a looming deadline, every day suddenly becomes more important. By setting a target date for your fitness, you have a specific time frame to work with. Every day is now a stepping-stone towards your fitness goal.

Use a significant event for your target date: your next birthday, a family reunion, or a friend’s wedding. If you don’t have an upcoming event, make up your own – plan a holiday or host a party.

Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

Set a reasonable date for a realistic goal. Don’t aim to lose 10 kilos in 3 weeks or you’re setting yourself up to fail. Keep your goals simple and you’ll avoid disappointment. Choose a date in the distant future to give you time to work towards it.

Don’t focus your goals solely on a number on the scales. Go for goals like fitting into a certain dress, losing your double chin, or toning your arms. Wearing your favourite dress to a special function can be a great motivation to work towards.

 2. Turn Your Workouts into Cash

Did that grab your attention? There are apps that offer cash incentives. Or try something simple, like putting aside a couple of dollars every time you workout. Treat it as a reward for your efforts. Your brain will eventually make a subconscious connection with exercise and the pleasure of money. In a couple of months, you can buy yourself something decent and your purse never felt a thing.

If you’re looking for more fruitful motivation, try these methods:

  • Apps like Achievement; connect with other apps and earn points for doing activities, logging meals, and answering questions. Once you’ve reached 10, 000 points, you can redeem it as cash or donate it to a charity. This app contributes to prospective studies for medical journals.
  • Mapmyfitness is an app from Under Armour. They have fitness challenges where you can compete with other members and win prizes.
  • Check out fitness trainers in your local area that create videos. Sometimes they’re looking for people of a variety of fitness levels for their videos.

3. Keep Your Gear in Constant Sight

Know that guilty feeling when you’re not doing something you should? Use it to your advantage. Let it be your reminder when you’re tempted to skip a workout for a Netflix binge. Keep a pair of dumbbells on your coffee table or next to your TV as a visual reminder.

Our brains are wired to avoid guilt to encourage cooperation. It was a natural instinct in primal times to survive within a tribe. It’s just as important today. Stick to your workouts to avoid that guilty feeling. Even a small workout is better than none.

How to stay motivated to exercise

4. Have a ‘Cruisy’ Back-up Routine

It’s good to switch up your workout routines so your body remains challenged. However, what I’m referring to here is more about motivation.

It can be useful to have a backup plan for the days we’re really not motivated to do the usual workouts. You can call it your ‘Cruisy routine’, so it doesn’t sound like work. More or less, it’s just exercise disguised as a leisure activity. This way, you’re still keeping your body moving.

It can be anything, such as:

  • bike rides
  • swimming
  • tennis
  • badminton
  • walking the dog
  • dancing
  • canoeing/kayaking
  • surfing/body-boarding
  • hiking
  • one-on-one basketball
  • playing with the kids (handball, frisbee, etc.)
  • interactive games on the WII Fit or a similar device.

Having a cruisy backup plan breaks the monotony of your typical routine. It gives your body a change and keeps you active on your “day off.”

5. Find Pleasures that Don’t Involve Food

The biggest challenge for exercise motivation (or anything for that matter) is changing your mindset. The more you associate exercise with pleasure, the less your brain will resist it. Activating the pleasure centre in our brains drives us to seek more pleasure by repeating the same behaviour.

Rewarding yourself for your efforts is a well-known trick. But you don’t want to be rewarding yourself with anything that can undo it all. Aim for other methods, like relaxation (bubble baths), pampering (massages), broadcasting (social media), or retail therapy.

>> Check out these 65 Brilliant Ways to Reward Yourself Without Food<<

6. Make a Bet with a Friend

There’s a lot to be said about being accountable for your actions. Sharing your fitness goals with others can help.  Problem is, most people won’t give you a hard time if you stop, because we all know what it’s like to struggle.

But if you have a consequence for stopping, that can motivate you to keep going. The trick is to choose something unbearable!

Make a bet with a friend that you’ll stick to your fitness regime for 3 months. If you quit, you have to do something gross like eat a can of cat food. Keep a tin in your kitchen and read the label every time you feel like quitting. By the time you’ve reached the end of your 3-month pact, exercise will be part of your lifestyle.

How to stay motivated to exercise - make a bet with a friend

7. Set Yourself Mini Challenges

Break your exercise into small challenges. It can help keep you going and push you even further.

For example, instead of doing a full 60 minutes of cardio, introduce other challenges and break it all down:

  • 5 minutes warm-up
  • 20 minutes weights
  • 10 minutes core exercises
  • 15 minutes cardio
  • 10 minutes cool down

Treat each activity as a mini-challenge. You can break it down in many different ways, incorporating any exercise you want. It keeps things interesting and less daunting.

Another mini-challenge: When you’ve almost finished 20 sit-ups, add three more. See how many you can complete by the end of the week. Or increase your jogging route by one block.

8. Pump Up the Jams

Did you know that music can make a big impact on your exercise?

A study by the American Psychological Association tested the effects of music on exercise with 17 active males and females. Treadmill trials were performed with and without music. Results showed that participants exercised more intensely with music, and felt good. Not only that, they recalled the music session as more pleasurable, confirming the positive influence music can have on exercise.

Other studies indicate exercise is performed more effectively when done in time to music. So it’s best to stick to a quick beat.

9. Get Some Active Wear You Feel Good Wearing

There’s truth in the saying “If you look good, you feel good.” And it works just the same vice-versa. This is what makes exercise fun.

You feel pumped from the endorphins from your workout, the sensation of your muscles tightening, and you can wear trendy outfits that boast your accomplishments. There are so many chic fashions now that provide both comfort and style. Whether you like Lycra tops or Yoga Flare pants, there’s something for everyone. Owning activewear that you look forward to wearing can help motivate you.


10. Introduce A New Healthy Food Each Week

Healthy eating sounds bland and boring, but the benefits you get from it are extraordinary.

Eating more vegetables doesn’t just give you more energy, it also curbs your appetite as it’s slow to digest. It kills sugar cravings, and sometimes even alcohol urges. Introducing a healthy menu is key to your overall health and weight loss.

If you make a drastic change overnight, you may struggle to stick with it. Your brain could feel deprived; searching for the sugar hit it’s used to. But if you eat healthy food, you will say goodbye to insulin spikes and energy crashes.

The trick is to add new foods bit by bit (or ‘bite’) and it’ll feel less tedious. Start with carrots sticks in your sandwich, oats instead of cereal, a new vegetable with dinner, or using wraps instead of bread.

As you reclaim your energy, you’ll learn to look at healthy food in a new light, and want to explore new things.

The Best Time is Now

Start your changes today! Implement these tips on how to stay motivated, and you’ll see changes in your behaviour that lead to results. Mindset is the biggest contender to any change in your life.

Do you have a motivational tip to share? Leave a comment and help others reach their potential.


  1. The only reason why I don’t work out is exactly this; not being motivated. Placing cash aside for every workout and in a way making a saving is a great way to start. Making a bet with a friend is like a challenge for me; which would keep the word “workout” in the back of my head. Great tips. 

    • Motivation can be challenging for sure. I’m glad you found this helpful, all the best with it Linda. (Buy something cool with your workout savings). Thanks for reading.

  2. Timely article CJ,

    I was just starting back my jogging routine 2 weeks ago which was going well but when I wanted to go out again, I lost my motivation and felt really lazy to go. Making exercise as a pleasure, that’s brilliant! I loved hiking and trails, I think I should go out tomorrow morning and reward myself! 😀

  3. These are some very solid tips on how to stay motivated to exercise. The 10 each are ones that really do work, as I have used some of my friends have used them. Between us all, every one of these has been put to the test and they work. It can be hard to stay motivated, I think we can all agree on that.

    We do need to get that time in though, so if using one or more of these 10 tips will help, why not get started with them today. I know that without something, the chances that you will fall off the wagon are increased (for most people). The hardest part is getting started. Then sticking to whatever regimen can slow or stop your progress, and you can easily slip back into doing nothing.

    For me personally, I have found that eating more whole foods, setting mini-challenges, and music has done the trick. I am a retired military guy, so exercise on a routine basis is not a big leap for me. Nonetheless, it is true that adding just a bit of help here and there can help! 

    Using a combination of these tips plus steeling yourself to not accepting backsliding, and sticking with that determination over time means that regular exercise will a part of your routine. That is the goal, and you have provided some tools that will help everyone get to that point. Thanks!

    • Hi Dave, thanks for sharing your experiences that was interesting! I couldn’t agree more, the hardest part is getting started. Determination is the key, and once exercise becomes routine motivation sure comes easier. I’m glad you feel this will be helpful for others, thanks for reading 🙂

  4. Hi CJ, this post has been helpful as usual! I was struggling with motivation in my workouts but I found a strategy that has been working for me. It’s similar to your #7 as my issue is the workout time seems too long so I tell myself, I can do 10m and stop but at least I’ve done something. However, once I press Play on the workout, I keep going right to the end so it’s been a win/win as the idea of a few minutes workout is enough to get me moving and once I’m moving, it’s easy to continue so I do. I see #6 as a possible one to try in terms of the consequence being something gross as I can definitely see the yucky alternative making me jump up and move. I think I need to go get a can of dog food this week lol. Lastly, #4 is one that I do as well but didn’t think of it as motivational but I guess it is. What is your go-to in this season?

    • Hi Tamika, I’m glad you found it helpful. Mini-challenges can make all the difference, can’t they? It’s exactly as you say, it’s easy to keep going once you press play on the workout. Gotta love a win-win! #6 can definitely be effective too. My cruisy backup routine makes all the difference. It keeps the momentum going without feeling like a chore and encourages me to get out of the house. A combination of these methods is most effective. All the best in keeping up your motivation! Thanks for reading 🙂

  5. These tips are so helpful! Lately, I have really found myself struggling to find motivation. The other day I told my husband to force me to go to the gym when I didn’t feel like it, unfortunately, he followed through with this and I threw a fit, marched up the stairs and threw on my gym clothes, giving him the stink eye the whole time. lol this method worked, but its not worth my husband’s sanity, sooo these are great alternatives.

    I love the idea of buying new work out clothes, this has worked for me in the past, when I buy a new tank top or leggings, I feel so confident and can’t wait to go show it off at the gym, crazy how that works, I also love the idea of having a back up plan.

    My husband and I love to play tennis, so when I am not feeling like going to the gym, we go play tennis instead, that gets us out of the house and helps us stay active, and boy oh boy is it a workout!

    These are some awesome ideas that really work, thanks for the great post:)

    • Hi Madysen, so glad you found this helpful. We all need a little push sometimes (or shove lol). Hopefully, this will give you some more ideas and save your hubby’s sanity! New gym clothes can feel great and improve performance. Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  6. Hi CJ, Thanks a lot for sharing such a great piece of article! I found it a good helpful write-up with a good sound and explanation. Here I have found some valuable ideas that are definitely helpful for every fitness enthusiast who wants to live healthy and fit. Please keep sharing more updates!


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