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How to Psychologically Motivate Yourself to Exercise

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at York U chapter.

It’s always hard to get back into a routine once the summer is over and school starts back up again. One thing I find myself having trouble with when the weather gets a little colder is finding the motivation to exercise. I love being active and moving but I also really love my warm bed and sleeping in. Do you see my problem? The morning is usually the only time I can go to the gym since I have school later on throughout the day, but it can be really hard to get up sometimes. It is especially difficult when I have to get into a freezing cold car in the morning and I find a thick layer of frost covering my windows. It’s not an ideal situation. But exercising keeps us in shape and it’s a great way to let off steam and relieve the stress we get from being in school, and I don’t know about you guys, but I need that.

It wasn’t easy at first but through personal experience and reading some of my psychology textbooks I was able to rack up some useful information and advice that helped motivate me to work out, and now I’m going to share them with you!


Wake up ready

If you’re working out in the mornings, one of the things I found very helpful was changing my alarm sound. Instead of your typical loud annoying alarm clock beep I took one of my favourite songs and set it as my alarm on my phone. So at 7:00 am I’m not being woken up abruptly with a loud amplifying beeping that scares me into pressing snooze and falling back asleep. Instead, I wake up to the soft sound of Beyonce’s “mine” to get me ready for yoga. Or if I’m getting ready for a cardio class I like to wake up to “crazy in love.” When Bey says “you ready?” at the beginning of the song, you can bet I always am.  Or sometimes I opt for the song “formation” which really gets me going. When Beyonce says, “okay ladies now let’s get in formation,” that’s my cue to get up and get dressed.


Get the look

This made such a huge difference. Buying new workout clothes and shoes just made me so much more excited about going to the gym! I get up and go into my closet to pick out my outfit and I just instantly feel ready to go. Especially if I’m wearing my ivy park leggings, I feel like I’m about to go off and I ALWAYS have a good workout on those days. Buying some new workout gear is the perfect way to motivate yourself into exercising.



Switch your mindset

There was a psychology study that found when participants were asked about why they play sports, they always thought of genuine reasons such as “enjoyment of the sport” or that it was “a good challenge.” When asked why they exercise the answers always centered around things like their weight and appearance. Although wanting to look good is usually an incentive for working out, focusing on those things are not proven to be effective when it comes to motivation. Intrinsic motivation generates a more likely chance that you will stick to something. So instead of thinking about working out as something you need to do in order to look good, focus on how it makes you feel. If that doesn’t work, try to sign up for some kind of sport or take a dance class so it doesn’t feel like exercise and that way you will most likely enjoy it more.


Use your memory for motivation

A study found that you can use your memory to enhance motivation. When participants in this experiment were asked to describe a positive exercise memory it was found that recalling that memory motivated them to exercise and they actually continued to exercise more over the next week than those in the control group who weren’t asked to remember. So while your lying in bed thinking about skipping your workout, try thinking of the last positive memory you have working out and how great you felt, it should get you motivated to re-experience those good times.


Love your body at every stage.

A study found that exercise frequency is most strongly related to 3 things: appreciation of your body, a focus on how it feels, and satisfaction with what it can do. Most people often motivate themselves to exercise by thinking about their appearance, but it turns out that actually has the opposite effect. In fact, the study revealed that when people focused on their appearances for motivation, it actually weakened all 3 of those things. Similarly to keeping a positive mindset, practicing body positivity regularly will have you feeling better about your body at every stage as you grow muscle and burn fat! Don’t motivate yourself into going to the gym by thinking about the parts of your body that you hate and things you want to get rid of.

Loving your body no matter what it looks like is always important because our bodies are always changing, and we shouldn’t rely on our outer appearances to bring us contentment with ourselves. Of course this is challenging sometimes, but, focusing on the amazing things your body can do will help you push yourself to work harder and you’ll start to gain an appreciation for your body that will result in your motivation to keep it healthy.

Some of these tips really help me get into a good workout routine, and even when school is stressing me out I find I’m able to put that anxiety aside and focus on keeping myself physically and mentally healthy.



Image Source(s) – 1: https://www.fitnessbestreviews.com/

Image Source(s) – 2: http://lovelace-media.imgix.net/

Julia is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Creative Writing and Psychology at York University, and to distract herself from thinking about the future, she spends her time writing and shopping impulsively. She is passionate about empowering young women, and through her contribution to HerCampus, she hopes she can encourage girls to celebrate who they are. You can usually find her in her bed or wandering around bakeries.
Hey! I'm Stephanie Wilcox, and I am a professional writing major here at York U! I spend most of my time playing piano or ukulele and crying over books and boybands. I'm currently studying Korean as an elective, and I hope to do plenty of travelling after I graduate. I believe in fighting for a better, safer, and more equal future, especially through words and writing. This is my third year at York University, and I am thrilled to begin writing with Her Campus this year as a CC and seeing the impact we will be making here!