How to Stay Motivated for Exercise – 10 Tips to Keep You on Track

How to Stay Motivated for Exercise – 10 Tips to Keep You on Track

Let’s face it, the biggest factor in preventing us from reaching our fitness goals all comes down to motivation, which is ultimately a mindset thing. At times it can feel impossible to balance everything going on in our lives and getting out there on a training run can be the easiest thing to drop first.  If we can figure out how to stay motivated for exercise the main battle is already won.

Below are my tips on how to stay motivated for exercise which I have unashamedly put into another acronym – MOTIVATION. I hope they can help you literally “stay on track” and not only reach your fitness goals but further your pursuit of mental clarity, well being and reconnection. Here are my 10 tips to keep you on track:

M: Meditation and Mindset Meditation for a positive mindset

Meditation is a fantastic tool for improving focus and clarity and quietening the mind. It can help train the mind to gently push away that inner voice that says “this is too hard” when out on a run.

Often the catalyst for getting out of a rut is to re-wire or reset the mind. I actually love the thought of us having a “reset” button. It allows us the idea that no matter what stage we’re at, how far from our goals we think we are, we can just hit reset and start again.

Find whatever that reset is for you. I have recently discovered “cold water therapy” and have found it incredibly beneficial to me both mentally and physically. At first, the freezing Atlantic ocean was a real downside to living here (I’m from Australia). In fact, it has been a huge positive. Jumping into that ocean around sunrise sets me up for the best day. I am energized and full of positivity. It feels amazing!

O: Overcome your own excuses

This is a big one for me. I’m always giving myself excuses on why I really should stay in bed and rest. When I am half asleep I really believe I am giving myself legitimate reasons. We tend to be our own worst enemy and often these excuses come from self-doubt or fear of failure.

Waking up feeling great jumping on the bed

Have you ever regretted doing a workout? Or getting up early to see the sunrise or to go on a hike or an early ocean swim? Exactly. The hardest part is getting up and getting out the door so if we can create a tactic to achieve this we are well on the way. Set your alarm and put it out of reach so you have to get up! Once you’re up you are much less likely to go back to bed. Just commit to this new routine for three weeks and you have created a habit. All of a sudden you will be waking up just before your alarm ready to tackle the new day!

Try my tips inspired from The 21 Day Habit Theory – read about it here.

T: Thankful that you can – Gratitude

Did you know that by this time next week there will be over one million people who will no longer have the privilege of being alive on this earth? On top of that think of how many people there are who aren’t able to run due to age, disability or disease. If we can re-wire our thinking to acknowledge how incredibly lucky we are just to physically be able to run, it can have a massive impact on our perspective.

Inspiration for how to stay motivated for exerciseI: Inspiration

Inspiration should come from something that really resonates with YOU. These days we are bombarded with meaningful quotes to the point they have become meaningless. Every now and then though, I stumble onto something that really hits a chord for me personally. I will often take a screenshot to keep this for later, perhaps even print it out and put it up somewhere I will view it often.

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Mahatma Gandhi

If there is a quote that really drives you and ignites something within then use it! They can be so powerful. This goes for an image or even a person you aspire to be like. My husband now has Kilian Jornet as his screen saver… hehe

V: Visualisation

Visualisation is a powerful tool. There has been much written about it and it is a tool used by many great athletes. I tried this myself recently when I was beginning to increase my miles and finding some days pretty tough.

I remember hearing someone say “imagine yourself running along smoothly and effortlessly, just cruising along with good form and very little effort”. I practiced doing this several times and I really found it was helpful. I think you really need to take the time to actually see yourself doing this thing, running along a certain route and enjoying yourself. My run this morning was the best I’d felt in a while. I felt light and smooth and had a real rhythm going on.

A: Accountability

I’ve mentioned this one before and I think it’s huge. If you can find yourself a running buddy or a group of friends you are going to find getting out there SO much easier. For one, you’re not going to want to let the team down but on top of that, it’s going to be so much more fun!

If you don’t have a friend who can run with you then use social media to find local groups in your area. Try searching through Google, Facebook, and Strava. Don’t be afraid to reach out, these groups are generally full of wonderful, like-minded people who are more than happy to help you and make you feel welcome.

T: Take Baby Steps

It can be easy to become frustrated when you aren’t seeing results soon enough. You will feel like quitting at some point and you need to tell yourself this is a temporary blip that you just have to push through. “Progress is more important than perfection”.

Lots of steps

Giving yourself smaller goals to tick off can give you the motivation to keep going.  Weeks ago we started heading home from our morning ocean swim via this big set of stairs.  They are broken up into about 8 lots of 12.  On the first morning, I was a huffing, puffing mess by mid-way and gave up and started walking. I was frustrated with my lack of fitness.  But the next day I pushed myself to go one more set, then the next day one more set.  Now I’m powering up the whole way and doing the Rocky dance at the top. Baby steps…

I: Initiate a plan and set a goal

Having a plan for your week is super helpful for keeping you on track. Put it on your fridge or your whiteboard so you see it every day. Know what your intentions are the night before.

A massive motivation booster is to set yourself a goal. But make sure it’s realistic and achievable. If you’re starting out in running then enter a 5km fun run that’s on in three months. If you’ve already been running a while make it 10. If there’s a marathon on your bucket list then set some plans in motion to achieve it in a realistic time frame – this could be in 12 months. Having a goal really fuels your motivation to keep going.

How to stay motivated for exercise enter a race

O: Once you start…

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”. Aristotle

The key to ongoing results is consistency. I know it’s something that is said over and over. But it is SO true.

N: New Challenges

A quick way for your motivation to start lacking is to do the same work-out over and over. You will quickly become bored and also frustrated that you’re not progressing. It’s important to change things up regularly and trying something new can also be exciting.

Throw in some interval training at least once a week. A completely different form of running training to what you are probably used to, it will not only kick-start your heart but have amazing effects on your run times. It has also been proven to have some pretty amazing benefits for your overall health too – including increasing human growth hormone (which helps slow the aging process!) Just don’t forget “baby steps” for this one too.

Mixing it up with alternate sports will also keep things interesting as well as complementing your running form. Swimming, cycling, yoga, Pilates and strength work are all great ways to improve your strength and fitness and keep it fun.

How to stay motivated for exercise try a new challenge

Stay on Track

So remember your body is a lot tougher than you think – it’s your mind you have to convince. Find your motivation and get out there to enjoy your life! How do you stay motivated? If you have a helpful suggestion I would love to hear it! Please leave a comment below and keep us all motivated to stay on track 😉

Happy trails,


How to stay motivated for exercise hike outdoors

17 thoughts on “How to Stay Motivated for Exercise – 10 Tips to Keep You on Track

  1. Thanks for your interesting article. I agree with you that mixing running with other sports can keep things interesting as well as complementing.
    I do three kinds of sports every week, badminton, jogging and dancing. I think I should change one of them to weight lifting. Weight lifting can help build up my muscles so that I can dance better. Setting a goal is important. It helps us focus.

    1. Thanks Fiona! Your sport sounds super fun! I agree, I think some form of strength training/resistance training is great for your overall health – excellent for your bone density and preventing osteoporosis too.
      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  2. Thanks for this wonderful post. Now I feel a lot more motivated. I never understood how simple things can get be of great help to the body. I am starting at this moment to put these techniques into good use.

  3. Great Inspiring Post.
    I agree with what you say. was a few things I will include that I not been doing now. One is the accountability, I like that cause I can often slacken off if it is just for myself but like you said, noone wants to let the team down.

    1. Yes, I know for me I am far more likely to go for that run when I’m meeting up with a friend or friends. And the bonus is the work-out it so much more enjoyable 🙂

  4. I’m guilty of procrastination when it comes to exercise. I know I should have drag my feet and run a few rounds to break some sweat but there’s always a big BUT.

    I’m going to start shutting out the excuses and start running soon. Thanks for the motivation.

  5. Thank you for the great tips Lisa! I particularly enjoyed your voice about having an accountability buddy. I have never tried it, but I think it would be very helpful for staying on track! The biggest thing that gets me going is motivation usually. If I don’t feel like working out, I will watch a few inspirational videos on YouTube and it usually does the trick. If not, I have coffee LOL. Love all these great tips!! I will definitely implement some of them in the future.

    1. Great tip Dan! Nothing like an inspirational video to make you want get out there and enjoy the benefits of the work-out and the outdoors. I’ve recently watched a few videos on Kilian Jornet – he is AMAZING!

  6. Thank you for the MOTIVATION! I really need to work on O: Overcome your own excuses. Your tip about creating habits is a good one.

    1. Thanks for your comment Karen! This is probably one of my biggest weaknesses – giving myself excuses. I find if I can put the effort in consistently for around 2-3 weeks it becomes routine for me and it is suddenly far less difficult.

  7. Thanks for all the tips! I can really relate to this. I have been having problems waking up early to go for a jog. I kept telling myself that it is ok to sleep for another 15 minutes and then set my alarm to 15mins later. This process repeats multiple times until I tell myself that I can always go jogging the next day and then went back to sleep. Before I knew it, it has been almost a month without jogging!

    I will definitely try the method: ACCOUNTABILITY. This is really an ingenious tip! I am going to ask a few friends to join me, so it is no longer an option not to wake up!

    1. I love it! One of my favourite ways to stay motivated. I’m exactly the same Lynn, let that darn alarm sneak further ahead and I never feel better for it! Good luck with it all, I know you’ll really enjoy getting out there with your friends and they’ll be thanking you too 🙂

  8. Just wanted to say big thank you, because I needed some motivation and after reading this post and following your advice, I feel motivated again 🙂
    By the way, when I need motivation, I also read some success stories of other people, that helps me a lot

    1. Thank-you Seva! Another great tip, totally agree with you there. I find it especially inspirational reading the stories of those that have overcome huge obstacles. I recently watched the documentary “The Dawn Wall” about Tommy Caldwell & Kevin Jorgeson – WOW! Helps you push on when times get tough 😉

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