How to

How to get motivated to start exercise

I must say that this is a subject that hits a chord with me. I am sure I am not alone on that but I am the kind of person who wants to be fit and feel healthy and I am forever making plans and statements about starting exercise. However still getting to move or stick to exercising is a mission impossible.

Needles to say that in all the years I have tried every trick on the book some have worked better than others. So here I have summarized a few ways which are tried and tested and I would vouch are my best tricks to get me going.

1 # Get a buddy

I know this is nothing new and I have mentioned it many times before. However, I would say I find it no 1 in motivation for sticking to any activity. I probably sound like I can’t do anything on my own, but hey I get bored easily and lose my enthusiasm very quickly, coupled with some laziness is not a good recipe.

Whenever I teamed up with a friend I kept exercising. Having a buddy is more than just exercising. It gives an opportunity to have a social time, have a laugh on the way, push each other and motivate one another. There were many of times in cold winter rainy evenings in which I would never have left the comfort of my couch for an exercise class but I did as it was more fun going with my buddy.

This brings us also to the point of make sure your exercise buddy is someone who you get along with and is fun to be with. If your buddy bores you to death or they are unreliable it may not bind very well.

2# Find a type of exercise you really enjoy

Exercising is not just going to the gym. I have read in many of articles or books that unless you are pumping iron (weights) you are not doing anything. Ignore that, trust me. Resistance exercise with the use of weights and/or going to the gym has its own value and benefits but in my opinion is not the only thing you can do.

So use your imagination on this. Do try different things and opt for the one you really like. Doing what you really enjoy is a motivator on itself to make you want to keep doing it.

3# Do something fun

Things like pole dancing lessons, zumba fitness, and ballroom dancing are becoming more and more popular and readily available. A lot of these activities are a lot harder than it may seem like it and you will be getting a really good work out. I remember joining a pole dancing class (more specifically pole aerobics) a few years ago and it was a pretty novel thing at the time. Well to my surprise it was a hard workout and it did take me a week to walk after it (exercise induced muscle soreness).

Ok this may not sound very good but my point is that I did enjoy it so much that I kept going for months and got some really good fitness out of it. Getting fit or exercising was the added bonus of having fun with a group of girls, and feeling more confident in the way I carried myself. There are numerous fun ways to exercise some other examples could be martial arts, Pilates, box exercise, horse riding, and boot camps among other things you could do.

Do make sure you do go to a certified and legible place though as apart from other safety issues you could end up with loads of injuries. This would apply to any form of exercise class.

! It is important that the instructor is adequately trained and has the knowledge and skills to teach whatever is meant to teach. You may often find situations in which dancers will teach dance for example but they don’t necessarily have the skills to show the correct techniques, or provide adequate workouts.

4# Everyday functional activities.

This is my exercise without exercising and is a point I have mentioned loads of times before. That was the most successful exercise adherence I had while I was a poor working university student, but I must say I was at my fittest. You don’t have to be a poor student to do this. All you have to do is use your everyday activities and turn them into a workout.

Walk everywhere possible, cycle to work, use the stairs and clean the house. Those good all days I did not have a car or a lot of money to use the buses which may sound like a ‘sorry’ story but I had a great body. I used my bike to go to the shops or work, or if I couldn’t take my bike I used to walk instead; as simple as that.

You don’t have to do a great deal of motivating as if you have to go to work you have to go. Well I guess you have to convince yourself to take the bike instead of the car but trust me once you start making it a routine you will just do it. The best is that you will be getting fit and you won’t even feel like exercising.

In addition, by incorporating exercise in your everyday life exercising doesn’t feel like an extra chore you have to add to your day. When you see things like chores it is less likely to want to do them as that means more work and more time away from resting and having fun.

Example activities and calorie spending per minute


Calories per min (aprox.)

Raking leaves


Walking leisurely


Washing the car


Walking uphill


Scrubbing floors




Calorie expenditure is only an approximate example. This will depend on the intensity in which an activity will be carried out. All these activities apart from a calorie expenditure point they can present an opportunity for challenging your fitness and muscles and provide some benefits.

Obviously things like how often, how much, how hard etc are all factors which will influence the results you will be getting. Walking once a week for 5 min is unlikely to provide with great fitness or weight loss gains.

! A plus point for any exercise is that once you start seeing the results you will be even more motivated to keep going. Now that is a good addictive motivator to keep on exercising.

Exercising while you are doing everyday things can also save you loads of money. Thing how many things you can do with that extra cash.

 5# Get angry and get even.

No don’t go beating people up on the street; this is not at all what I am trying to say here. Have you ever been in at the point where you do something and then all of a sadden something clicks in you and it makes you realize what you really want and just go for it.

Confused? Do you have these days were you put on an outfit and can’t fit in it or just don’t look good and then get depressed usually? Well don’t get depressed, get angry and get motivated.

What is motivation? A quick internet search will give you hundreds of definitions, but to their core all they are saying is that motivation is the thing, the reason, the drive, the urge that something that makes you want to do something.

So you have put on weight the last few months/years or you are out of shape or unfit, is not time to sulk about it. Get angry and use that something to drive you into starting exercising and get going.

6# Think of your health

I tried for years to stop smoking for years until a close friend died from throat cancer. In his funeral I was sitting with some friends saying ‘why did he keep smoking’; all these in the smoking area with a cigarette in my hand. After that day I stopped smoking in the realization that you don’t have to have a terminal disease, or for the doctor to say you have to do it, in order to do it.

If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, with the everyday stresses, bad eating habits, maybe smoking, or being slightly overweight then you are increasing your risks for developing certain health condition.

Nobody things that it will happen to them but one bad health knocks your door often is late to reverse what damage is done. This in some ways incorporates the factor of learning to love yourself.

Regular exercise can have benefits such as help improve blood sugar metabolism and lower the risk of developing diabetes, help in lowering blood pressure, improve joint and back pain, and also help in improving sleep, psychological state and increase energy levels. These are just some of them, as the list can go on.

7# Make use of good weather

When the sun is shining on a warm day we want to go out and do things. Use this to your advantage. Build your exercise routines in the spring and summer and just carry them into the winter time. Doing a little bit of planning may help. Try to construct your exercise and make it into a routine instead of doing random things on the spare of the moment.

For example go cycling once a day or swimming twice a week, or join a sport. The idea is that if you spend spring and summer building a specific routine then it will be easy to continue with it when the weather is less motivating.

8# Use a personal trainer

This will require making a financial investment. It would work a little bit as a buddy. If you have specific appointments with a personal trainer it would make you exercise for those sessions. Well if you can’t get going get someone who will drag you out. You could still find a number of excuses why to cancel sessions etc but on the other hand if you are paying you wouldn’t want to waste your money.

Unless you have plenty of money to spare personal trainers can be pricey and is not something you could keep forever. However, on the plus side a good trainer would work with you to motivate you or help you find the things that could motivate you in continuing exercising. So it could be the push you need.

9# As part of weight loss

Do exercise as part of another goal like weight loss. If you have found enough motivation to lose the extra pounds and want to reach your goals exercise could help you with this. Use the same reasons and drive that push you in the weight loss diet to push you in exercising.

10# Motivational props

Use little things which can get you up and going. For example studies have shown that music can help in motivating people to exercise. Also athletes some may also use music before a competition to get ‘psyched up’, relax or get energizer.

Do you want to get running every morning or go to the gym? Wake up and get some music playing. What kind of music wakes you up and gets you going is a personal thing however.

Other little things you could use are a picture of yourself from the past, a picture of a model/celebrity or why not an athlete, a book or an inspirational story etc. There are loads of little things from our everyday life and environment which we can draw inspiration and get motivated from.

About the author

Hara Hagikalfa

Hara Hagikalfa completed her BSc(Hons) in Health and Exercise Science, Sports Science and Medicine. She is a certified Personal Trainer and Pilates instructor. You can learn more about Hara and connect with her on Facebook