Employee Wellbeing
August 22, 2022

5 ways to motivate yourself to exercise

If you keep putting exercise off, either due to a busy schedule or if you’re not feeling it, you may just be feeling unmotivated. New data has shown how the UK is doing less vigorous exercise, so we’ve come up with some tips on how to motivate yourself to get that workout in!

Alanah Hammond
4 minutes

Struggling to find motivation to exercise? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, in July, The Guardian reported how almost half of British women do no vigorous exercise with most saying they lacked motivation, according to a new survey.

The new data from the healthcare charity Nuffield Health, also showed how just over a third of British men said they had not exercised in the past 12 months and half also cited a lack of motivation.

The online survey, in February, of 8,000 adults across the country also detailed the reasons why exercise levels were declining. A high contributing factor was motivation: sixty-seven percent of women cited a lack of motivation compared with 51% for men.

With the numerous benefits of physical activity being so crucial to your wellbeing, it’s important that we tackle the problem which Nuffield Health’s data has shown to be a lack of motivation. 

The NHS defines vigorous exercise as activities such as running, swimming, cycling, a martial arts class or sports such as football. Try out these tips to kick-start your new exercise routine, which may now just feature a martial arts class!

Make it fun

If you’re getting bored of running around the same streets or doing the same exercise routine at the gym, try out a different exercise sport.

Boredom can often lead to a lack of motivation, however, if you find something that excites and stimulates you, you will be more likely to carry out the exercise.

Trying something different seems really obvious, but it can genuinely change your perspective of exercise if you can burn the same amount of calories by cycling to the shops or rowing for 1K on the river. 

If you prefer exercising from home, check out new Youtube videos for different types of exercise classes such as yoga or high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

If you’re having fun while exercising, you will stay motivated and keep it  up, so find what you enjoy and go from there.

Exercise together with friends and family 

Exercising with other people is great, as you can all help each other power through, especially in the last sprint or 15 minutes of the match. Join a new class with a friend, or join a running club for example, either will ensure you are motivated to get your exercise done.

Marcus Axelson, Head of Sales at Myles Wellbeing, discussed how he can struggle with motivation: “I do find it easy to fall out of a routine when it comes to exercise, particularly with work and general life getting in the way”. 

However, he said that one of the things that motivates him is having his friends linked on his Apple Watch and getting notifications that they've completed a workout. He said “the notifications always tend to spur me on to get something done, even if it's just a brisk walk outside”. 

So if you still like to exercise solo, using fitness watches or apps with friends is still a great way to motivate yourself. Whichever method you go for you will be motivated, so just gather friends and get moving!

Make it part of your daily routine 

Friends or family can not only help find motivation and provide an extra boost for your mental health, but they can also make it a routine. For example, you can schedule to do a certain exercise at a certain time regularly with a mate. 

By getting it in the diary, you are more likely to follow through with your exercise plans because even if you’re not feeling particularly motivated on that day, you won't want to let your mate down. 

If you exercise by yourself, making your exercise part of your own daily routine is also beneficial as it will give shape to your day. Whether you wake up earlier to get it out of the way, or plan to exercise after work, by writing it down or putting it in your diary, you will be more motivated to get the task done, even if for the satisfaction of crossing exercise off your to-do list. 

Set goals 

The NHS recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week. To achieve these targets, set yourself goals.

If you’re getting back into exercise, start with simple goals and then begin to increase the amount of time you exercise or the intensity of it. Make your goals achievable as well as realistic, to keep you motivated to carry them out. For example, if you haven't exercised in a while, a short-term goal might be to complete 10,000 steps a day for a week. Once you build up your stamina, you can start to change your goals. 

If you’re still struggling for motivation, you could also join a campaign which will constantly promote the importance of exercise, so that it is always at the forefront of your mind.

For example, Nuffield has launched a Find Time For Your Mind campaign, which aims to encourage people to do five extra minutes of exercise a day to boost mental and physical wellbeing.

Enjoy the post-exercise feeling

Exercise balances stress and improves mental health since it reduces cortisol levels (the body’s stress hormone) while sweating releases endorphins that help relax your mind. This is why we get such a high after completing exercise. When you’re next struggling to motivate yourself, think about how you will feel after exercising. This type of internal reward can help you make a long-term commitment to regular exercise.

Marcus Axelson, Head of Sales at Myles Wellbeing, does exactly this. He said, “It never gets any easier getting out of bed at 6am to go to the gym, but knowing that I will feel better in myself and have a more productive day is the kick up the backside I need to get up and get sweating”.

As well as rewarding your body and mind, you can also reward yourself externally. When you reach a longer range goal, treat yourself to a new pair of running trainers or gym kit to enjoy while you exercise.

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