The Secret to Staying Motivated

Motivation To Exercise

There are lots of reasons to exercise. Maybe your doctor recommended you lose weight to improve your health. Maybe your spouse or a friend has been after you to be more active. Maybe you just know you "should" exercise, or you know it's good for you. But when it comes to turning thoughts into action — and commitment — the motivation has to come from inside.

Motivation that lasts

Some doctors and psychologists believe that it isn't about how much motivation you have, but where it comes from. And the motivation that's most likely to spur you into action is from inside you, or intrinsic. In other words, no matter how much you may trust your doctor or love your spouse, you're more likely to develop an exercise routine that sticks if your motivation is rooted in your own choices and beliefs, rather than someone else's.

Here's another approach that may be more likely to lead you to a lifetime of exercise: Instead of just focusing on being more active, commit yourself to mastering a skill or reaching a goal. Don't just ride a bike; learn how to fix a flat. (Ask about classes at a local bike shop, or check out some videos online.) Want to really be a pro? Teach someone else.

To understand what motivates you, consider the list below of reasons to be active. Which is most important to you? Rank your top three reasons. Do you have more that aren't on the list? Add them.

Put your list somewhere you'll see it regularly — maybe on the door of the fridge, the bathroom mirror or on a slip of paper inside your wallet. Focusing on your reasons for being active and your ultimate goal may help you to internalize your motivation and make you even more likely to reach your fitness goals.

What's your motivation for exercise?

  • Lose weight
  • Feel better
  • Look better
  • Build stronger muscles
  • Improve my flexibility and joint mobility
  • Improve my balance and coordination
  • Increase my energy
  • Sleep better
  • Reduce my risk of heart disease or stroke
  • Improve my lung capacity
  • Keep my bones strong
  • Lower my blood pressure
  • Lower my cholesterol
  • Reduce my risk of certain cancers
  • Reduce joint pain
  • Ease depression
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve my quality of life
  • Be able to keep up with my children or spouse

This article is from Mayo Clinic Health Information Library and is legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Related Articles