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7 Ways to Increase Your Motivation to Exercise

By Marc Perry / October 29, 2018

I want to share with you 7 effective strategies that can help increase your motivation to exercise and eat well. It may only take one method, or a combination of a few to help you stay extremely motivated, so read on!

1) Write Down Specific Goals

You’ve probably heard that setting goals is important, but that’s not enough. Goals must be specific, quantifiable, and associated with a length of time. In addition, write down your goals on a sheet of paper and consider reading them aloud twice per day (morning and evening). Reading aloud your goals, known as autosuggestion, will help condition your subconscious mind to believe in your goals. Your outward actions (exercising and eating well) will reflect this desire and belief.

2) Write a Contract

Sounds kind of crazy, but writing a contract (even with yourself) has been proven to help people stay motivated. In the contract, you can include the following:

(1) Specific fitness goal
(2) What you plan on doing to reach your fitness goals (how many times per week you will exercise etc.)
(3) Address your barriers to exercise and eating well and how you plan on overcoming them (i.e. avoid the sugar cravings, or not use lack of time as an excuse to miss a workout)
(4) Date at which you must reach your fitness goal
(5) Your signature and the date you signed the contract.

You can create a strong sense of accountability with the right contract, especially if you put some skin in the game (maybe even put some money on the line). There are tons of ways to help inspire you to make a commitment that you won’t break, so be creative!

3) Visualization

Do you have a picture in your mind of how you want your body to look and feel? Let’s dig deeper. Try to answer the following questions about your visualization:

Now since you have a very clear and more detailed image of your visualization, whenever you are faced with a barrier to exercise or healthy eating, think of this visualization. Think about it often. The power of visualization can have a BIG impact.

4) Find an Emotional Trigger

Many times, there is one final trigger before we take action to workout and eat better. The emotional trigger can be a doctor telling us we have high cholesterol, or may become diabetic. Maybe when you went to slip on your favorite pair of pants, you felt like a sausage about to burst. Find your emotional trigger and use it to your advantage. For example, if you have that pair of pants that reminds you of your weight gain and how you don’t want to feel, keep it hanging from your closet in clear view. Every time you come home from work and are considering skipping a workout, those darn pants will be staring at you.

5) Track your Progress

If you don’t track your progress, you will have no idea if you are on the path towards reaching your goals. Do not become distraught if you show no progress initially. Like a scientist in a lab, dispassionately assess the feedback (whether good or bad) and adjust your fitness program accordingly. Over time, seeing your weight go down, your energy levels increase, or any other positive change can be a huge motivator.

6) Build a Support Group

Building a support group can be as easy as telling your close friends and family about your fitness goals and plans of action. Making changes to your lifestyle can be challenging, so developing a support group will help create positive energy around your efforts, which can come in handy when you need it most. Building support also provides a constant external reminder of the commitment you made to yourself.

7) Subscribe to a Fitness Newsletter/Blog

Consistently receiving fitness related emails will constantly keep fitness on your mind, which may help with exercise adherence. There are thousands of fitness newsletters and blogs to choose from on the Internet. BuiltLean.com may be a great choice for you (BuiltLean Newsletter), but I’m slightly biased. I also think having me in your inbox every week can do wonders for your motivation!

P.S. Is there something that I missed that helped you stay motivated to reach your goals? Did any of these 7 methods work for you? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!


  • Brian says:

    best article yet!

  • Leila says:

    The very consistency of this blog is, in itself, a motivator! I especially value the visualization tip; thank you for hashing out its details!

  • RJ says:

    right on the money! i agree 100%. never broke it down like that but i def. concur.

  • RJ says:

    ....and a nice reminder as i wind down to marathon day! after a discouraging few days of running -- or rather, lack thereof -- i'm inspired to get back in it and push to the end. God help me! (step #8!)

  • Mary says:

    #1 and #2 work for me. I have a couple of weddings coming up which will work as my goal. I like the idea of a contract, providing me with guidelines and a specific routine that I can fit into my schedule.

  • Arianne says:

    I really like your point about having a support group. All my friends in college were athletes so it made things easy on me. When I moved to the city and suddenly had endless non-ahtletic social engagements I had to learn how to balance. It's been a great way for me to get new friends to join me for short runs or lifts or yoga.

  • Mike says:

    All great tips! The contract helped me stay on a healthy diet and not skip out on making it to the gym 3 times a week, looking forward to more, the site looks great!

  • Mary says:

    Reading your blog has been a great motivational tool. I check it out several times a week, mainly for the information, but also to motivate me. I always feel energized after reading your posts.

  • David the ghostwriter says:

    All this advice is great, but the most important thing is to have a tether for when you get thrown off the wagon. Three nights burning the midnight oil, and you have no energy to exercise. Three days to catch up some semblance of energy...but in the meantime other things have fallen by the wayside and they need urgent attention and before you know it, a month, two months, several months have passed by and - whoops - wasn't I on an exercise program? You need some sort of tether, because it's OK to fall off the horse, as long as you don't stay off.

  • Toni says:

    I like all the suggestions but the visualization one works best for me. I always envision myself in a swimsuit on a beach and think to myself that eating junk food and laying on the couch are not going to make that scenario a reality.