10 Ways to Get Motivated to Exercise

1. Do what you know.

Mixing up exercise is great advice 11 months out of the year, but during the stressfest known as December, you need routine. When you’re overwhelmed by obligations, the workouts you’re most likely to do are the ones you know by heart, say researchers at the University of Southern California. Consider it the fitness equivalent of comfort food.

2. Gear up.

It’s basic math: A lot of familiar equipment in your home gym is more motivating than a little. Women who have 10 tools on hand exercise twice as much as those with two, says the Journal of Strength and Conditioning. The top 10 items, per a Self.com poll: stability and medicine balls, kettlebell, BOSU trainer, body bar, step, yoga block, foam roller, pilates ring and trampoline. Surf Amazon for supercute SELF gear.

3. Be a numbers girl.

A simple gadget you’re overlooking? A pedometer; it can push you to move 33 percent more, German researchers found. And just like that, mall canvassing for gifts becomes a personal challenge.

4. Post a positive.

When you need extra-strength motivation, leave “I feel awesome when I work out” notes on your computer or mirror. It’s less dorky once you know that visual reminders can inspire you to exercise 50 percent longer, per a Motivation and Emotion study. Keep it upbeat, says psychologist Michael Mantell, Ph.D., a senior consultant for the American Council on Exercise: “Telling yourself ‘I should go to the gym’ makes you not want to—it’s like your parents or doctor preaching to you.”

5. Make a Starbucks run.

A fruit smoothie may be refreshing, but caffeine has superpowers. When people in a University of Buffalo study had some a half hour before getting on a treadmill, then were told to walk as long as they wanted, they walked 32 percent longer than the no-caffeine group. If you don’t do coffee, check out caffeinated water; it can have the same boost as an 8-ounce joe. Just keep it to preworkout so you don’t overwire.

6. Watch a favorite show.

Still feel like lounging and reading this mag instead of hitting the gym? Turn on an episode of anything you love. Hanging with TV characters you adore has an energizing effect, reports a study in Social Psychological and Personality Science, similar to how a chat with a friend amps you up and fuels you to get stuff done.

7. Just ignore Facebook.

Browsing evidence of your stellar life—vacation photos, your new pup—cranks your self-esteem. Great, but if you surf right before you work out, you could feel less inclined to make yourself even more fabulous, says Catalina Toma, Ph.D., whose study on online habits appears in Media Psychology. Post-sweat, feel free to relive last summer’s epic vacay.

8. Customize your playlist.

“Creating a mix that matches the activity—fast-paced for running, chill for yoga—will make it more effective and get you more excited to work out than listening to the same playlist every time,” says Deekron, aka the Fitness DJ and founder of Motiontraxx.com. “Put a song you’re crushing on at the end, so you’re juiced to get there.”

9. Turn on airplane mode.

Every email, text and push sucks a little life out of your focus and intensity. Proof: People who checked their cells during exercise were less fit than those who left theirs in the locker room, a Kent State University survey found.

10. Reward yourself—twice.

Doubling down on postworkout treats (mani and cocktail with a pal) could inspire you to move longer. The key is making those carrots small and totally different, says researcher Scott Wiltermuth, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Southern California. Small because that makes them believable, and different because they’ll sound more appealing. And you’ll get a fitter body. So, maybe it’s three treats.



Finally, there is a perfect weight loss plan for your personality. SELF's Lose 8 pounds program let’s you choose between a bootcamp trainer and yoga guru who lead you through the slim-down, shape up plan in just four weeks. (Plus, the nutritionist-approved recipes are delicious! No cooking skills required.) The payoff: you’ll erase 8. It’s easy!


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