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How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise When You Just Don’t Feel Like it

By Jacqui Hook June 10, 2023 Health and Fitness

We all have those days when mustering the motivation to exercise seems like more of a challenge than usual. We just can’t seem to get going and we end up giving ourselves permission to skip the gym or yoga class, or postpone the run or walk.

I don’t have my gym clothes on. I’m too tired. I haven’t eaten. My back has been bothering me. I just washed my hair. It’s raining. It’s getting dark.

The excuses are endless and it seems that the older we get, the harder it is to resist taking the easy way out.

As a result, we end up feeling guilty about our laziness or regretful about missing an opportunity to do something that would improve our physical, emotional and cognitive health and increase our longevity. To make matters worse, the hour that would have been spent building strength and endurance, or increasing mobility and flexibility is replaced with more time sitting at the computer or lounging on the couch. Instead of burning calories and increasing metabolism, we’re doing just the opposite.

If you really want to know how to motivate yourself to exercise, here are a few tips.

How to Be “Workout Ready”

So, how do we get workout ready? Replace laziness with preparedness.

We prepare for natural disasters and emergencies by keeping a disaster kit in our home and a spare tire in our car. Exercise is equally important to our survival, so it stands to reason to be prepared for it as well!

Here are five surefire ways to increase your chances of working out on any particular day:

Dress for Success

Eliminating the task of having to change into your workout clothes can go a long way toward getting yourself to that yoga class or starting your run.

Put on your athletic wear as early in the day as possible. If you’re retired or work at home, put on your fitness garb first thing in the morning. If you work or volunteer outside the home, bring your workout clothes with you and dress out before leaving the workplace. Being dressed and ready to go can mean the difference between a sure bet and an unfortunate regret.

Start the Music

Nothing is more motivating for me than hearing the songs from my workout playlist. If you like working out to music, have your earbuds and playlist handy and turn on your music before hitting the gym or Pilates studio. Put on a song that gets you into the workout frame of mind and you will surely get up and go!

Fuel Up

Between-meal hunger can be a workout killer. Don’t let your appetite get the best of you. Keep a favorite protein bar and sports drink in your backpack, gym bag or purse, and make a point to fuel up and hydrate. Once you have some nourishment, your body will be revved up for an awesome workout!

Set Your Alarm

Sometimes we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from what we’re doing, especially when at the computer, and the day seems to just slip away. Don’t let time pass you by. Schedule your workout and set your phone alarm to go off 15 or 20 minutes beforehand. This will give you enough time to finish up what you’re doing and get yourself out the door.

Promise a Partner

Invite a friend to work out with you at a specific time of day. Agree to take a fitness class together or go for a walk, hike or run. For extra insurance, have the friend pick you up. This will decrease your chances of a no-show. Exercising with a friend adds a social element to your workout, which is almost always an extra bonus!

Put It All Together

It’s hard to go wrong if you combine all five strategies. Put on your workout clothes as early in the day as possible, turn on some energizing music, power up with a protein bar and a sports drink, set your alarm and invite a friend for good measure.

Being dressed, motivated, nourished, duly reminded, and partnered up will make it easier for you to steamroll through excuses, get your workout in, and feel fantastic!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How do you get motivated to exercise? What motivates you to go for it whether you’re tired or the weather is bad or you’re just not in the mood? Any favorite workout music you’d like to share? Please join the conversation.

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I don’t like being called lazy. Sorry but I don’t. I’m not lazy I just have a problem when it comes to exercise.
I don’t have a daily problem my problem is how to motivate myself to start a exercise habit in the first place. I don’t get a feel good feeling after exercise. I just feel completely exhausted and not in a good place. This doesn’t help me to continue exercising.
Any ideas would be great.

Karyn Loveman

Find a sport / exercise you like doing. Are you a walker? Walk to the grocery store. Walk to get coffee. Walking is a natural way to exercise so add a destination involving what you need to do and walk there. Too far at one time? Bring water, sit down for 5 minutes to refresh and continue.

Do you have a favorite author, TV show, actor, activist? In other words a muse.

What do they do to motivate themselves? Whatever the reason you like them, their path to health including exercise may motivate you as you admire them.

And some days your body is tired, sore from walking from the say before? Listen to your body and relax.

Catherine Vance

I do put on workout clothes as soon as I get up because then, even if I put off jumping on the elliptical or going for that walk, I “feel” in the mood and tend to get up and run up and down the stairs to get things I left up there. Also, I have my hand weights next to me after my husband goes to bed (earlier than me) and stand up and to shoulder and arm work while watching my nighttime TV. It’s not that hard to get through all my sets while watching my braincandy tv shows.

The Author

Jacqui Hook is founder and owner of Tenáz Athletics, innovative concepts in women's athletic wear Tenaz means tenacious in Spanish. Jacqui’s mission is to inspire in women tenacity for staying fit and healthy regardless of age, fitness level, body type or other perceived obstacles. Follow @tenazathletics on social media for tips and inspiration.

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