National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Staying Motivated

Everyone loses motivation from time to time, and there are some days when you just don't feel like exercising at all. It's important to keep you routine up, however, so here are some options for when you need some extra incentive.

Remember that exercise isn't limited to your home, the gym or long walks and jogs. Kayaking, hiking, horseback riding and even snowshoeing are all unique activities that feel more like treats than work. Incorporate more fun into your workouts to keep up with your fitness goals.

Barrier 1: "I don't have time."


  • squeeze in a few short walks throughout the day;
  • get up a few minutes earlier;
  • sneak it in to your day by taking the stairs or do housework at a fast pace;
  • combine activities (e.g., instead of a meeting a friend for coffee, meet for a walk);
  • put your exercise on your calendar and be sure to keep your appointment; stretch and do strengthening exercises while you are watching television or on the phone; and/or
  • get off one bus stop before your desired stop and walk the few blocks or park your car further from the store door than you normally would.

Barrier 2: "Exercise is boring."


  • choose activities you enjoy;
  • vary your routine;
  • get an exercise partner ; and/or
  • check out exercise classes or sports leagues at your local recreation center.

Barrier 3: "I worry about how I look while I'm exercising."


  • remind yourself that you are doing yourself a favor; and
  • focus on how you feel after a workout and praise yourself after your improvements and each time you keep your commitment to exercise.

Barrier 4: "I can't afford to join a gym."


  • get a great workout by simply using the resources that surround you;
  • take a walk;
  • play basketball with friends;
  • go bowling;
  • ride your bike;
  • go dancing;
  • go hiking;
  • go roller or ice skating; and/or
  • spend some free time gardening.

Check out the offerings of your local community centers, churches or YMCAs; many offer financial assistance for low-income users. Some clubhouses have discounts.

You can also rent DVDs and videos for free at your local library or find quality work out videos on YouTube.

Barrier 5: "I am afraid that I will hurt myself."


Be sure to check with your health care provider before you start an exercise program. If you are new at this, begin your new program slowly so you do not get hurt or get such sore muscles that you won't continue. Choose an activity that is appropriate for your age and ability level. If you decide to go to a local YMCA or recreation center, ask for assistance from the staff at the facility. Finally, remember to warm up and cool down before and after exercise.

Exercise journals are used to keep track of each period of exercise you do each day and are a great way to track progress. You may want to include details such as how you felt before and after, your perceived exertion, what you ate and if (and how) if affected your sleep. If you don't feel up to working out, they can be a reminder of how beneficial and important exercise is by seeing all the activities you've done and the rewards you will reap by exercising.

Exercise journals are a great way to maintain a consistent exercise plan. Knowing that you are going to be accountable will get you off the couch on those days when motivation wanes. You will look forward to finishing your workout and showing off your progress on your results page.

Seeing positive trends in your exercise journal, like increasing the distance you've gone on a walk or a run or increasing the weight you lift, can be a great motivator. Your entries can be shared with your health care provider so that he or she can see you your efforts and making progress.

Get started on your journals today by checking out one of these Web sites or another you may know. With a free, quick sign up, you can start keeping track of your daily activity immediately.

If you want to do your journals online, feel free to keep some daily notes for yourself in a planner or notebook. Keep positive reinforcements around you throughout the day in order to help maintain your focus and intention.