12 Ways to Get Motivated and Improve Your Fitness Level

How to get started, stay interested, and stick to your goals.

Posted Sep 08, 2019

blackmachinex/Pixabay, used with permission
An exercise buddy can help you stay motivated.
Source: blackmachinex/Pixabay, used with permission

Short bouts of exercise may contribute to your greater good, but to continue to reap the psychical and psychological benefits, you have to keep exercising. The psychological benefits are often more evident at first than the physical benefits, so if your goal is to enjoy both, you have to find ways to stay motivated. Here are some tips to develop and stick to an exercise routine while staying flexible enough to adapt to changes in your life that might interfere with your motivation.

1. Decide which types of exercises you actually enjoy doing, and figure out how you can routinely fit them into your schedule.

2. Calculate your target heart rate so you can monitor your activities and know how much aerobic exercise is too little or too much. (See reference below for more information and a link to the American Heart Association’s Maximum and Target Heart Rates by age.)

3. Figure out your body mass index (BMI) to determine if your current weight is within a healthy range for you. (See reference below for more information and a link to National Institutes of Health’s BMI calculator.)

4. Develop an exercise plan that includes aerobic activity plus some muscle-strengthening and flexibility exercises.

5. If you enjoy company and think it will enhance your motivation, find an exercise or gym buddy to walk, run, or work out with, pick up a sport like tennis or pickleball, or join a group exercise activity like a yoga or aerobics class or a

6. Incorporate mind-body exercises into your fitness routine for relaxation and stress relief. Use the relaxation and focusing techniques you learn from doing mind-body exercises to practice mindfulness at other times, such as when you are tempted to overeat or trying to get through a tough time.

7. If you join a gym, make sure it’s convenient to where you live or work. Make it as convenient as possible to get there on a regular basis.

8. Keep your exercise life interesting; don’t let your routine get boring. Vary your exercises from time to time, not only so you don’t fall into a rut and bored but also to make sure all your muscles are getting a workout and to keep your body physically challenged.

9. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three days a week, with a long-term goal of exercising at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

10. If you find yourself burning out or dreading your workouts, back off a little. Cut back on the amount of exercise you do, skip an occasional workout if you must, but keep going. Rather than stopping altogether, try something new, like a different machine or exercise class at the gym, or riding a bike or taking a hike instead of going to the gym.

11. Always keep your long-term goals in mind and remember that exercise brings both physical and mental rewards.

12. Strive for commitment, endurance, and good health, not perfection.


American Heart Association. Know Your Target Heart Rate for Exercising, Losing Weight and Health: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/target-heart-rates

National Institutes of Health. Calculate Your Body Mass Index: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm