Here we’ve shared 13 different approaches, including the science behind each one, so you can get in the right mindset and start smashing your fitness goals.
1. Establish a Routine
Creating a weekly exercise routine helps the odd workout here and there become a habit.
Once you make it a habit you’ll find it easier to maintain.
If you want to start working out to lose weight, research has shown it’s more likely to be effective if you can develop these healthy habits.
Decide which day and time you’re going to choose, and write it down or record it in your fitness app or journal.
2. Set Small Goals
Deciding on a goal could be the thing you need to get moving.
Try not to make your goal too drastic, instead focusing on a smaller challenge that will push you forward without being too overwhelming.
There is evidence to prove that a process goal is more effective than an outcome goal.
An outcome goal is, as you’d expect, the ultimate desired outcome, for example “I want to lose 20 pounds”.
A process goal is more about how you’ll get there, for example “I want to workout three times a week”.
Set your own small process goals and you’ll set yourself up for success!
3. Choose a Buddy
Is there someone you could partner with to keep you motivated and hold you accountable?
Many studies show that partnering with someone for exercise not only motivates you but also makes you workout harder.
Have a friend who has better fitness habits than you?
They might just be the person to turn to. One study showed that someone with better fitness habits can increase your workout time and intensity by much as 200%.
Your partner doesn’t even need to be there in person!
One project at Michigan State University, found that people working out with a friend virtually still worked harder and longer.
In fact, they discovered that participants would hold a plank 24% longer when working with a partner.
4. Create Accountability
Creating workout accountability is another strategy you could use, and it’s fairly easily to implement.
Booking non-refundable fitness classes in advance is one example, or choosing to work with a personal trainer.
Fitness apps have also been shown through research to help with encouraging accountability.
Even something as simple as getting your exercise clothes and bag ready the night before sets your intention for the following day.
5. Make it Fun!
Sometimes changing your thinking around working out is what you need to find the motivation to get started.
One way to do this is by remembering that exercise can be fun!
It doesn’t need to happen in the gym, it could be a long walk somewhere beautiful or an energetic dance class.
There is also evidence to show that by adding fun to your workout you’re less likely to indulge in snacking afterwards! Of course a healthy treat is great, but researchers found that when people exercise they’re more likely to eat unhealthy snacks afterwards as a reward.
However when they added fun to their workout, respondents didn’t perceive it as ‘exercise’, and were less likely to eat a high-calorie treat.
6. Track Your Progress
The more you exercise, the more you should see your speed, performance and ability improve.
If you track this progress and these small achievements, you might find it’s the boost you need to keep going!
Health and Wellness expert, Gabrielle Kassel, blogged about her own experience of journaling her workouts.
She noted a number of different journaling benefits, including how it increased her flexibility and allowed her to get even more from her own body.
A simple notebook could track your progress, or you might choose to invest in a fitness journal.
Depending which you choose, you’ll have space to record your goals, plan workouts and track your progress.
7. Join a Fitness Class
You might find yourself more motivated to keep fit if you’re surrounded by people doing the same thing!
Whether that’s in the gym or at an outdoor boot camp, joining a fitness class might be the incentive you need.
A study published in 2019 reported that people who took part in group exercise sustained their attendance and felt more positive about the experience overall.
8. Follow Inspiring People
Seeing others working out regularly, and sharing their own hints and tips can be a great motivator.
You could even start your own account as a way to hold yourself accountable.
9. Add Variety
As mentioned previously, exercising doesn’t always have to mean sweaty sessions at the gym.
There are so many ways you can add variety to your workout to keep yourself engaged!
For example, if you really want to build strength but don’t want to lift weights, you could try swimming, resistance training or running.
Alternatively why not start practicing yoga?
10. Watch and Listen
If you’re someone that watches the clock while working out, just wishing it was over, then it’s time to switch things up!
Start listening to your favorite podcast or watching a great TV show while you exercise.
Time will fly by, plus you’ll begin perceiving your workout as more enjoyable, rather than seeing it as a chore.
11. Use Technology
In 2015, researchers found that technology including video games and social media, can be positive for exercise motivation, particularly for people with diabetes.
Fitness technology has come a long way, even since the research was conducted, and there are now so many tools for you to choose.
You’ll find many different fitness apps as well as wearable tech that can track your workouts, help you record your goals and stay motivated!
12. Recite a Positive Affirmation
Standing in a mirror and reciting “I am a fit and active person” might not seem like the best motivator.
Experts typically find that health messaging about physical activity can be seen as “threatening to self-worth” and is often met with resistance.
They were interested to learn more about how reciting self-affirming statements could affect the area of the brain (ventromedial prefrontal cortex or VMPFC) responsible for emotional regulation and self-perception.
Results showed that self-affirmations produced more activity in the VMPFC and led to participants increasing their levels of physical activity.
Put simply, it was felt that affirming this behavior change allows people to see the self-relevance more clearly and take action.
13. Reward Yourself!
Rewarding yourself is scientifically proven to make you exercise more – it’s a fitness fact!
So what’s your reward going to be for reaching your goals?
You could choose something indulgent like a spa trip, or invest in a recovery tool.
Think about what a reward means to you.
For example, it could just be a few moments of relaxation by using a foot massager or acupressure mat.