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10 Ways to Boost Your Exercise Motivation

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By Virginia Anderson
WebMD Feature

You know exercise is good for you. Doing it, though, is another thing.

To stick with an exercise routine, you need to get out there when that little voice inside you says, "I'll do that tomorrow. Or the day after -- maybe."

Motivation does that, and it's not about just powering through.

1. Lighten Up Your Goals

Your fitness goal may be too big for you right now, especially if you're new to exercise.

Beginners "want to go for maximal goals, but they tend to get overwhelmed," says Gerald Endress, exercise physiologist at Duke Center for Living in North Carolina.

So don’t start off trying to work out an hour every day. Instead, set more reasonable, achievable goals, like exercising 20 to 30 minutes two or three times a week.

2. Track Your Progress

Chart your workouts, whether you do it online or in an old-school fitness journal. Seeing improvements, whether running faster, doing more reps, or working out more often, makes you want to keep going.

3. Delete Guilt

Get real. You're going to miss a day or two. If you accept that there will be some side steps on your fitness journey, you’ll be better prepared mentally to deal with setbacks, Endress says.

Don’t let a misstep be an excuse for giving up.

4. Focus Only On Yourself

There will always be someone fitter, faster, or more flexible than you.

Don’t compare yourself to them, Endress says. Forget about them. Do not let them deter you from your goal. Your workout time is for you, and about you.

5. Get a Cheering Squad

Find people -- friends, family, co-workers, neighbors -- who will encourage you to stay on track. Ask them to do exactly that.

"The person should be in support, but not say, 'Why can’t you? It’s so easy,'" says Carla Sottovia of Cooper Aerobics in Dallas. If helpful reassurance turns into criticism, gently remind your pal that you don’t need nagging.

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