Three women sat on yoga mats in a class

Exercise motivation: 3 ways to motivate yourself to work out

Posted by for Strength

Bored of running? Not feeling up to your usual strength training routine? Find true exercise motivation with these simple tips. 

Despite it’s popularity, motivation is an elusive thing. How often, really, do you feel totally pumped for getting everything in your day done? Yet we are inundated with information on the term - there are nearly three million posts on Instagram for #motivation. 

One area of our life is particularly synonymous with needing (or lacking) motivation: exercise. It’s understandable why, right now, we all want an extra dose of the good stuff. After all, we only got our gyms back a few months ago, the post-lockdown summer was a time of chaos where health habits took a back seat, and now the dark and chilly mornings and evenings make bed feel more desirable. 

But moving your body is still crucial. Education is the greatest motivator, because knowing why you’re doing something makes it a whole lot easier to actually do it, so know that exercising really does help your day-to-day life. It can help your immune system to ward off the ‘super cold’, and establish a routine that’s crucial for your mental health: studies show that having a daily rhythm helps with low mood. “During an uncertain or stagnant time, doing something that’s familiar to you is so important,” says personal trainer Caroline Bragg. 

“When you are exercising you get out of your mind and into your body. It gives your brain some rest and time to reset. You’ll look at situations differently post-workout when your body is full of endorphins,” agrees Strong Women Training Club fitness trainer Emma Obayuvana. The other thing your body will be full of is oxygenated blood, which will help energise you – meaning that the admin you’ve been putting off by staring out of the window might feel slightly easier, and your joints that are tight from months of slouching over your makeshift working desk will loosen. 

Exercise motivation
Exercise motivation: how to stay motivated in lockdown 3

Speaking of, exercise will actually help with that bad posture you’ve been adopting: “You want to make sure that you are supporting your body by working your glutes and your back,” says Bragg. “Strengthening certain areas of the body will improve your posture and ease muscle and joint pain.” 

The message? It’s totally OK if you need some time off working out to reset, but keeping up movement will benefit your mental and physical health. If you’re still in need of an extra boost to get out of your seat, try these motivational tips. We can’t promise you’ll be leaping out of bed like social media says, but they might make movement a bit easier. 

3 WAYS TO KEEP MOTIVATED TO EXERCISE

REFRAME EXERCISE

“Let’s reframe exercise to just being movement,” says Obayuvana. “Whether it’s a simple stretch or a big strength session, understand that your body needs movement to work properly.”

Don’t underestimate the benefit of your walk into work, a slow yoga class or a dance around your kitchen. It’s no wonder you probably aren’t pumped for exercise if you think it has to be super intense and super sweaty all the time. Aiming for more movement, rather than scheduled workouts, is much easier. 

Woman on yoga mat using phone
Exercise motivation: Reframe exercise as movement

PICK A SKILL

Rather than overwhelming yourself with perfecting every part of your workout, “choose an exercise or a skill that you want to really nail, and dedicate a few weeks to it,” says Bragg. Seeing improvements is motivation in itself, especially when it’s something you never thought you’d be able to achieve. And having one particular reason to get into the gym makes it much more simple. 

THINK PAST THE PRESENT

There’s more to life than how much you can squat, but knowing that what you do now will benefit you in the long term is a big motivator. Think about what future you would want - a strong body and mobile joints, probably – and what you need to do to achieve that. 

Can’t think that big picture? Consider what next week you would want. Probably not backache and tiredness from being sat down for so long, but a pain-free body and energised brain. 

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

Images: Getty

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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