How to Get Motivated for Exercise

Are you struggling to get (or stay) motivated for your exercise routine? You are not alone. This is a common theme we hear from our clients. Many people say they have made an effort to incorporate exercise time and time again, but they fail to stay consistent. Or they simply lack time, incentive or resources to get moving in the first place. So how DO you get motivated for exercise? We’ve got answers!

Benefits of an exercise routine

First, a brief note on why movement matters. Getting regular exercise has so many benefits to include improved mental health, stress management, more self-esteem, enhanced immunity, weight management and better sleep quality.

While knowing the benefits won’t necessarily drive you to hit the gym, identifying your “why” for movement is essential before starting a routine. Your “why” can be a powerful thing. It can actually help get you going, and help you stay motivated for exercise.

Aside from tips and resources, this science-backed research will help you find the “glue” (aka: motivation) to STICK with your exercise routine, no matter where or how you decide to incorporate movement into your life.

8 Tips to Get Motivated for Exercise

1. Schedule It

First things first: schedule the time! There are two parts to scheduling. First, you must find a time that realistically works with your schedule. Second, you must plan what you will do during that time.

Establishing time

Whether your scheduling method of choice is Google calendar, a white board in your kitchen, or a weekly planner, mark exercise down on your schedule. Research shows that those who have planned ahead are more likely to exercise than those in a control group who did not schedule time.1 When you make exercise a priority on your to-do list, you are less likely to skip.

Another study found that those who set a reminder (text/email) were incentivized to get moving.2 You can also set reminders on an Alexa or similar device, which will alert you when it’s time to exercise.

Formulating a plan

Next, make a clear plan on what you are going to do in this time slot! You can focus on a specific muscle group, group classes, cardio days etc. When making your schedule, be sure to pencil in at least one rest/recovery day.3

You may find it beneficial to work with a program or a personal trainer to provide a schedule of activities. Remember, you can work with your dietitian to create your plan! Consider the Get Moving Program at Anderson’s Nutrition, which is run by one of our personal trainers. Our clients have found this program to be an ideal way to get motivated for a new exercise routine.

2. Set goals that are S.M.A.R.T.

Set S.M.A.R.T. goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-sensitive. For more information on how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, click here to read our blog post on the topic.

Writing down your weekly S.M.A.R.T. goals will help keep you on the plan and also adds a level of accountability. For example, start with “I will workout on Monday doing weight training for 30 minutes; on Wednesday I will go to yoga; and on Friday I will walk for 30 minutes.” 

Once you achieve a S.M.A.R.T. goal, you may want to advance to a more intense workout or heavier weights the following month. Do this by tracking your progress in whatever planner or calendar you used to schedule your workouts! 3 Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is an excellent way to stay motivated for exercise.

3. Make time

No time is no excuse! If you cannot find the time, consider a quick walk. New research has found that even 11 minutes of brisk walking can significantly reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and various cancers.4

If you feel as though work is a time barrier, consider the “20:8:2 rule.” This is sitting for 20 minutes, standing for 8 minutes, then moving for 2 minutes. It has been shown to increase productivity and total energy expenditure.5

4. Find your love

Find something you LOVE! Do you love to dance? Did you find joy as a kid when riding your bike? A recent study found that people whose motivation was “enjoyment” exercised more often compared to those with other motives.6 Science tells us to harness the power of joy to motivate us as we exercise.

5. Get a buddy

Find a partner or workout buddy to hold you more accountable. Even a pet who requires a daily walk would work! In a new study, exercisers who felt they had a “sense of community” increased their participation and found it as a motivator for sticking with a routine.7 Working out with others may increase the likelihood you will show up and do your best.

6. Jam out

Play your favorite hype song and put on your favorite workout gear! This boost in mood may help get you going. Showing up for yourself can be the toughest part. Studies show that it takes your body at least 5 minutes to get warmed up, which makes the first few minutes feel the hardest both mentally and physically.

7. Match your budget

Get the RIGHT resources. That’s not necessarily expensive equipment or a gym membership. Making use of online videos and apps (free or paid) can be as effective as going to the gym. You may want to invest in some equipment, but it doesn’t mean you have to buy a stationary bike or treadmill. You can do a lot with resistance bands, which are inexpensive and travel friendly.

8. Explore your “why”

Lastly, do not forget your “why”! Remember that movement looks different on everyone, and comparison is the thief of joy. You are making these changes for you and your “why,” not for someone else’s. Keeping this in mind will help you stick to your new habit, and will provide motivation to keep exercising.

You’ve got this!

Keeping up with routines can be challenging, but working with our team can give you the accountability and support you need. Schedule an initial visit to see if we are right for you!

Get Moving Program


  1. Peng S, Othman AT, Yuan F, Liang J. The Effectiveness of Planning Interventions for Improving Physical Activity in the General Population: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jun 15;19(12):7337. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19127337. PMID: 35742582; PMCID: PMC9223740.
  2. Milkman, K.L., Gromet, D., Ho, H. et al. Megastudies improve the impact of applied behavioural science. Nature 600, 478–483 (2021).
  3. Sticking with your exercise program. Harvard Health. (2017, April 11). 
  4. Garcia, L, Pearce, M, Abbas, A, Mok, A & Strain, T et al. Non-occupational physical activity and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality outcomes: a dose response meta-analysis of large prospective studies. British Journal of Sports Medicine; 28 Feb 2023; DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2022-105669
  5. Ergin, Gulberg (2019). The Effect of Using the “20-8-2” Pattern at an Active Workstation on Cognitive and Task Performance. Master’s thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from https : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /189030.
  6. Gjestvang C, Abrahamsen F, Stensrud T, Haakstad LAH. What Makes Individuals Stick to Their Exercise Regime? A One-Year Follow-Up Study Among Novice Exercisers in a Fitness Club Setting. Front Psychol. 2021 May 28;12:638928. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.638928. PMID: 34122230; PMCID: PMC8194699.
  7. Heinrich KM, Carlisle T, Kehler A, Cosgrove SJ. Mapping Coaches’ Views of Participation in CrossFit to the Integrated Theory of Health Behavior Change and Sense of Community. Fam Community Health. 2017 Jan/Mar;40(1):24-27. doi: 10.1097/FCH.0000000000000133. PMID: 27870750; PMCID: PMC5526209.