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5 simple ways to make you want to exercise more

Nearly two thirds of gym memberships go unused. Don’t let yours be one of them. Make sticking to your fitness plan effortless with these five easy ways to boost motivation.

1. Optimally primed

Pepper your day with casual clues – trainers by the front door at home, gym bag ready-packed in your car, protein shake on your desk at work – as reminders of your intention to train, and take time to recall how great you felt after your last workout.
Positive memories of your last session send motivation levels soaring, found researchers at the University of New Hampshire. Just be sure to focus on how great you felt after squeezing out that squat, rather than how difficult it was to walk down the stairs to the changing room afterwards.

2. Log your sessions

People who report their progress to others are more likely to carry on with a training plan. But that reporting doesn’t have to be face-to-face, according to research in the Journal of American College Health. The study authors found that logging fitness activity online for others to see inspired as much motivation as regularly working out with a group. 

3. Fine yourself

Would you be more likely to go to the gym if you had to fork out a fiver for skipping it? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone, according to a handful of studies and the creators of Pact, a clever smartphone app that has users check in at their gyms via GPS and charges them for missed workouts. Each week, money is pooled from the non-exercisers and distributed among Pact users who have managed to hit their workout goals. Sign up and never skip a workout to earn money and muscle.

4. Get a training partner

If you work out with a buddy, make sure he’s in similar shape, suggests a study in the journal Science. Researchers found participants who exercised with partners similar in BMI, age, and fitness level were more than three times as likely to stick with their fitness plans as those with less compatible partners. Whatever you do, don’t work out with someone much fitter, say scientists. That sets unrealistic goals and undermines motivation.

5. Think smaller

Large goals can seem unattainable. Instead, focusing on incremental victories brings better results, report scientists in the Journal of Consumer Research. So rather than dwelling on the 15 pounds you want to lose, think about doubling your current 3-pound loss.

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