We all know how it goes…we start off with great intentions promising ourselves that this is the week we are going to get off the sofa and start moving.  But by midday Monday we’ve run up a list of chores we need to do instead and an even longer list of why we really shouldn’t risk any kind of exercise at “our age”.  And what age would that be?!  You are never too old to start exercising, even if you’ve never done so before. The real problem is motivation. Understanding why we struggle to get motivated to move goes a long way towards understanding how to overcome it.

Health Psychology recently published a study that found that people who use an exercise ‘trigger’ are more likely to actually follow through with an exercise plan. A trigger can be as simple as seeing your exercise clothes neatly laid out, waiting for you.

Let’s look at some of the other ‘triggers’ successful exercisers have deployed with surprising success:


  • Start small. We cannot stress this one enough! If you're not used to working out or hitting the gym (or doing 15 minutes a day) or you don't think you have time to – take just 5 minutes when you wake up or go to bed, or when you're pacing around the office. Over time you can kick it up a notch. Every little bit counts.
  • Start on a Monday. People tend to commit more fiercely to exercise after a major benchmark like New Year’s Day. The same is true of Mondays - #NeverMissAMonday has its place.
  • Bribe yourself. Promise yourself a reward for exercising, like a new set of golf clubs or a new handbag if you keep it up for a month. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of self-indulgence dressed up as bribery
  • Listen to music that makes you want to dance. Music drives very strong emotional connections, so listening to upbeat music will perk you up and make you feel ready to work out.  Bust out the ABBA, the Rolling Stones, the Eagles, David Bowie – if it gets you going, it will help you get moving!
  • Find a partner in crime. Find someone to exercise with – many people report that having a partner to do exercise with is not only a lot more fun but also serves as a great motivator.  You wouldn’t want to let anyone down by not showing up for your exercises, now would you?
  • Rope your friends in to keep you on track. If you're competitive, get your friends to bet a dinner on you if you don't stick to your goals. It's likely that a little external motivation could help you stay committed if you're feeling sluggish
  • Lay out your exercise clothes.  If you plan to exercise first thing in the morning, this makes for a good trigger.  Often the thought of looking for clothes just seems too much of a hassle.  Wake up with those clothes in sight and you might find yourself more likely to get cracking with your exercises 

We’re all human. No one expects you to always want to get up early, hit the streets or gym just to be rewarded with sweat, breathlessness and potentially a beetroot complexion. So do yourself a favour and make it as easy as possible to put on those sneakers. By finding the thing that will get you moving, you can change exercise from a dreaded chore to a life-affirming habit.