Motivation and exercise have an interesting relationship. It can be terribly challenging to find the motivation needed to exercise, but exercise itself is great for increasing motivation! In this article we’ll look at some simple tips to help you keep your exercise motivation high until summer arrives.

If you can just get yourself to start moving (often the most challenging part) it is likely that you will continue, at least with that particular exercise session.

With the colder, darker and wetter days that winter often brings, I focus this article on two pointers to help you find the motivation to get out there and start moving (and then hopefully keep moving)!

Before we get started, let me just check that you are feeling well? If not, head over and check out my top tips for winter wellness before you read any further!

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Exercise motivation made easy

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A common problem with motivating yourself to exercise is that it just ‘sounds hard’. “It’s too much effort” or “it’ hurts too much” are thoughts that can arise.

So when it’s a cold, dark winters day and you feel like you’ve got zero exercise motivation, make it as easy on yourself as possible! What is the easiest form of activity you could do? Could you:

  • Bundle yourself up super warm and take a walk around the block? After this you might decide to walk further, or just call it quits – in which case you will still be feeling better than if you hadn’t walked at all.
  • Get up from your desk and do ten squats? The little energy boost you get from that may spur you on to continue.

You don’t need to think of an exercise session as an arduous task. It’s just ‘movement’ and you need to figure out what will get you moving. If that means sleeping in your exercise gear to prepare for a morning session, then do it!

Find a buddy for exercise motivation

Accountability is one of the best exercise motivation methods around. If you arrange to meet a friend at the gym, chances are that you’re not going to let them down, and once you get there, working out will be easier with someone to push you along.

If your budget allows, find yourself the ultimate accountability buddy and invest in a personal trainer. Small group training sessions are usually available to reduce the cost. Hiring a trainer for a few months over winter can go a long way towards helping you continue by yourself over spring and summer. A good personal trainer will help you develop and implement a plan that includes sustainable, healthy habits. Alternatively you could invest in an online health and fitness coach.

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The question of how to motivate yourself is a big one. The ultimate form of exercise motivation is called ‘intrinsic motivation’, which is where you find a strong enough level of desire within yourself to take the actions you want to. This means that you need to have a very strong reason why your goals are important, the reason must have a significant emotional component, and it should also be focused on a long term solution, i.e. a gradual lifestyle change, rather than a quick fix.

Keep this in mind along with the two points outlined in this article and you’ll be on track to have a solid exercise habit underway by the time summer is upon us. You should also make sure you know about these tips to help you stick with your exercise plan. If you feel like your energy levels are holding you back, check out these six steps to awesome energy. Or you can read about the four steps to a fit summer body!

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I write for a number of publications and generally publish a blog once a week about finding ways to enjoy a more happy and healthy lifestyle.

I also come across a lot of useful healthy information all the time. If I find something of value, I'd love to share it with you.

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Also published on Medium.


  • Annie

    I find it harder to get motivated to exercise (mainly walking or cycling for me) during the winter months. This winter I arranged to walk with a friend for an hour twice a week. Being accountable is a great motivation. On other days I find a shorter ‘brisk’ walk is better than no walk. I always feel refreshed when I get back and say to myself “I’m pleased I did that”.

    Yes. Exercise increases motivation.

    • Elly McGuinness

      Yes Annie! As you say, any movement is always better than no movement. It’s so good when you can catch up with a friend at the same time as you’re getting fit and healthy:)

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