How to stay motivated

Find out how to stay motivated and reach your exercise and movement goals. Use our exercise handbook to track your progress and write down your goals.

Make movement a habit

Exercise and activity can become much easier if you make it a habit. Try these techniques to help you make movement part of everyday life:

  • Use a step counter to help with motivation and tracking progress. But it’s important not to worry too much about your exercise data.
  • Set yourself a goal – for example, walking more steps every week.
  • Let people know your plans – this can help you to achieve them. 
  • Consider joining a regular sport or group, you can improve your fitness and make new friends at the same time.
  • Celebrate your achievements. Perhaps your breathing is easier, or you feel stronger and healthier. It’s easier to keep going if you feel good.
  • Give yourself a backup activity. For example, doing yoga with an online video, so you don’t break the habit if the weather is bad, your schedule changes, or you don’t feel like going out. 
  • Work towards your goal with a friend or family member. It can be easier to stay motivated when you have company. 
  • Try to keep active at a time of day that’s easier for you. 
  • We all struggle sometimes. The charity Active Nation has tips for getting over barriers to physical activity.

Remember why you’re keeping active

Think about why you’re keeping active and what the benefits are. You can write down your reasons for being active and keep them on your fridge, so that you always see them.

For example, your motivations might be:

  • you want to play with your children or grandchildren more
  • you want to get a dog and be fit enough to walk them 
  • you want to feel better physically and mentally 
  • you want to get back into doing things you used to enjoy.

Set yourself activity goals

Having a goal gives you something to work towards and helps you see your progress. Set yourself achievable goals:

  • Think about what you enjoy doing.
  • Start at a level that’s right for you.
  • Build up at your own pace.

My long-term goal

What would you like to achieve in the next few weeks or months? How would you like to feel? Your goal could be something like:

At the moment I get the bus to the shops twice a week. By the end of next month, I will walk to the shops instead.

My short-term goals

Short-term goals help you build up your activity levels to help you achieve your bigger goal. You should make them as specific as possible and include:

  • what you’ll do 
  • when you’ll do it 
  • how long you’ll do it for
  • who you’ll do it with.

Try writing your first short-term goal. It could be something like:

Next time I go to the shops, I will get off the bus one stop earlier.

Plan for things that could stop your success

Prepare yourself for things that might get in the way of success.

What things might stop you achieving your short-term goal? It could be the weather, feeling unwell or other plans. Think about how you can overcome them. For example:

I may not be able to do my planned activity because of poor weather. To overcome this, I’ll do my exercise at home instead.

What if I don’t achieve my goal?

If you don’t achieve your goal, that’s OK. Don’t be disappointed with yourself. Think about what you did achieve, no matter how small.

Take some time to think about why you didn’t achieve your goal:

  • Was it too difficult
  • Did you give yourself enough time? 
  • Did you get enough support?

Be kind to yourself and return to an easier stage of your activity plan or think about making changes to your goal to make it more achievable next time.

Track your progress

You can track your activity progress using our exercise handbook. It has:

  • a page to write down your goals 
  • a page to write down what things may get in the way of your success 
  • a daily exercise record to fill out what activity you have been doing 
  • a daily walking record to log your steps or time spent walking.

Download your exercise handbook.

You can also track your progress by downloading an app, such as:

Did you find this information useful?

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