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10 ways to get motivated to exercise

10 December 2021|3 min read

Key points

  • Knowing why you’re not feeling motivated to exercise could help you take the right action.
  • To get motivated, the key is to find something that you enjoy doing.
  • If you need extra motivation, enlist the help of your family, a workout buddy or a trainer.

You’re just not feeling it. Some days it may be hard to get motivated to exercise. Life often gets in the way of a good sweat session. That, and the new show you’ve started streaming. 

Sometimes, rest might be exactly what your body needs. But, when you want to get moving and just need a little bit of inspiration, we’ve got you covered.

Personal trainer Gabrielle Petterwood shares her top tips on how to become an active person even when you really don’t feel like it. 

But first, let’s take a quick look at why you might not be feeling it in the first place. 

Figure out what’s holding you back

Knowing why you’re not feeling motivated to exercise could help you take the right action. Some of the most common exercise de-motivators are feeling:

  • squeezed for time
  • bored doing the same fitness routine
  • self-conscious 
  • fatigued from busy lifestyles

One way to boost your exercise motivation is to focus on how good it is for you. Here’s a little reminder in case you need it. Physical activity, along with other healthy habits, may help:

  • boost your energy
  • improve heart and lung fitness
  • lower your risk of developing some serious health conditions
  • reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing
  • improve your sleep

The key is to find something that really suits you as well as being something you enjoy.

10 exercise motivation boosters to get you moving

Try these ten movement motivation hacks the next time you misplace your exercise mojo.

1. Find something that you enjoy

Gabrielle says finding a form of exercise that you enjoy is a big motivator. 

“People think that you have to do burpees in the lounge room. If you’re trying to exercise at home or in the gym and you’re not enjoying it, you’re probably not going to stick to it and be motivated to continue training,” she says.

The key is to find something that suits you as well as being enjoyable.

Gabrielle explains, “It doesn’t have to be going to the gym and doing a structured program. Some people find this intimidating and don’t enjoy it. Try a dance class or boxing so that you’re still exercising and moving your body.”

So, you may not be sure what you enjoy, and you’re looking for some fun ways to exercise by yourself. Try thinking back to those activities you liked to do as a kid or always wanted to try, like:

  • roller skating
  • hula hooping
  • skipping
  • skateboarding 
  • bike riding (complete with streamers and spokey dokeys for extra fun)
  • walking to the park and flying a kite
  • shooting some hoops at the local half-court

2. Don't be scared to try something new

While doing the same old thing gets boring, you might feel uncomfortable trying something new. Gabrielle’s advice is not to be afraid.

“I know it might be scary, but just throw yourself out there if you can and try different forms of exercise and training,” she says.

The good news is you could try out lots of different types of exercises, sports and classes without breaking the bank. Most local councils offer free group fitness classes in your area. There are many free, quality online fitness videos you could take advantage of. 

And who knows? Maybe doing a free group yoga session (trust us, stretching feels good) or a floor exercise video online is what you need to spice up your fitness routine.  

3. Buddy up for your next workout

Gabrielle says doing exercise with a friend may help you to get motivated to exercise. 

“Make a day and time to meet a friend to work out together. Even if you can’t meet them in person, you could always do a video call. Make it fun and something that you both enjoy,” she says.

You could try some fun fitness challenge ideas for friends, like:

  • The 5-minute plank challenge: Gradually build up to the whole five minutes. Try seeing who can last the longest. 
  • The Weekly Walkathon: Who dares to walk the most each week, wins!
  • The ‘Variety is the Spice of Life’ Challenge: Each of you commit to trying one new class or training style by an agreed date. 

If one person isn’t enough to motivate you, try doing a group class. According to Gabrielle, some people may be motivated by having other people around them all doing the same thing.

“I know when I go down to the beach for a run, I'm way more motivated to do a better run if there are heaps of people around me. Whereas if there's no one there, I'm kind of like, ‘Oh’,” she explains. 


To make exercise more fun, think back to those activities you liked to do as a kid or always wanted to try.

4. Get a trainer

If you really need a push, Gabrielle recommends working with a trainer or someone who could help you find out what motivates you. 

“Sometimes, you don't even know what motivates you. Often, you may go to a good trainer, and they just have a really fun way to connect with you. And you're like, ‘Oh wow. I didn't know this about me,’” she says.

5. Exercise with your family (including your fur kids)

Physical activity is important for kids, pets and yourself. Gain motivation by working out as a family. Plus, who can resist a dog who is giving those ‘please take me for a walk’ eyes. 

“Exercise may feel like less of a chore when you make it part of family time. It’s something that you could all do together,” Gabrielle says.

6. Track your fitness

Some people are motivated to do more physical activity using fitness trackers. Knowing how much you’ve moved might even help increase the amount of incidental exercise you do each day.

Research suggests that people who use fitness trackers and apps are more likely to take an extra 1,850 steps per day compared to those who don’t. 


Knowing why you’re not feeling motivated to exercise, could help you take the right action.

7. Keep it simple (incidental exercise counts too)

You might find yourself overthinking how to find some exercise motivation. When this happens, keep it simple. Enjoy the benefits of walking or running.  It won’t cost you a cent and you don’t need any special equipment or training. 

Don’t forget about incidental exercise too. All the movement that you do during the course of your day increases your total physical activity levels. Incidental exercise can include:

  • gardening
  • washing the car
  • doing the housework
  • going shopping
  • mowing the lawn
  • taking your kids to the park

8. Play some ‘heroic’ tunes

Research suggests that listening to heroic music may evoke motivational thoughts. Crank up songs like Sia’s ‘Never Give Up’ for a bit of inspiration to get moving.  

9. Combine movement and creativity

Go on a photography walk and snap some photos of your local area. Or you could ride your bike to the local park and sketch something that takes your fancy.

Your creativity might even get a boost from moving more. Recent research found active people have more, better ideas than their relatively sedentary counterparts.

10. Play a game

Exercise doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Gamify your fitness with some fun mobile apps that could have you running and walking to:

  • chase zombies
  • catch pocket monsters  
  • wrangle dinosaurs

Doing a workout with a friend can help you to get motivated to exercise.

Do what sparks joy

Ultimately, the biggest exercise motivator is to find a form of movement that you enjoy. As Gabrielle says, “if you enjoy something, you’re going to keep doing it.”

If you need extra motivation, enlist the help of your family, a workout buddy or a trainer. When you’re stuck in an exercise rut, get out of your comfort zone and try something new. There are plenty of fun ways to be more active in your daily life. 

Remember to consult your health professional before starting any new exercise routine to help you stay safe and reduce the risk of injury. 


Gabrielle Petterwood is a Personal Trainer with a holistic approach to fitness, nourishing the body with fresh foods and living a healthy and balanced lifestyle to realise full body health.

Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board November 2021.


This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health you should consult with a health professional.