Get Motivated to Exercise When off Track

Woman and man tying sneakers outdoors

It’s easy (and even important, as part of a goal-setting process) to make plans to exercise. It’s the follow-through that sometimes gets people caught up. That’s where motivation comes in. It gives purpose and direction to your behavior, providing the internal push you need to overcome excuses and get started. Unfortunately, sometimes it deserts you right when you need it most.

The Source of Motivation

For athletes, motivation to exercise may come from the desire to compete and win. For other exercisers, it may come from a wish to be healthy or live longer for their kids. For many, losing weight is the goal.

Many of us believe motivation will come to us if we wait long enough: Someday, we’ll wake up and finally want to exercise. The reality is that motivation is something we can and need to create for ourselves.

Use the following elements to create your own motivation and you’ll find it easier to stick with your workouts. Then, you’ll start seeing the results of your efforts, which may help fuel your will to keep going.


The first step is having something to work for. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a weight loss goal or a goal to run a marathon—anything that gives you a reason to exercise will work. And don’t think you have to set only one goal. You can set as many as you like, whenever you like.

Set daily goals (“I’ll walk for 20 minutes today,”) weekly goals (“I’ll get a minimum of 3 workouts in this week,”) or even hourly goals (“I’ll get up every 45 minutes and walk around the building.”)

Always having something to work for, big or small, keeps you going.