How to Motivate Yourself to Get Moving

How to get motivated to work out
Sailors in the fleet transition program (FTP) gather at sunrise to participate in a weekly beach run. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abe McNatt/U.S. Navy photo)

We are all human. You never will be motivated to exercise 100% of the time. Wouldn't it be great if you had a few go-to methods to getting up and getting something done? These also can apply to any work you are putting off or other things that you need to accomplish.

Try a few of the following movements to get you moving more rigorously or at least with more purpose.

1. Have a group. Group training or a buddy system works really well when you want to hold yourself accountable. My group is probably what got me up today when I was tired and enjoying my sleep.

Here is my personal story from today. I normally awake at 5 a.m. and slowly get moving and out the door by 5:50 a.m. for a 6 a.m. meet-up with a workout group I started years ago.

After missing an alarm and ignoring my backup alarm (as they say, two is one, but one is none), I found myself naturally awake at 5:45 a.m., resting comfortably in a warm bed with my toasty warm beagle right next to me.

That hop out of bed was not easy. I put on my warm running clothes, as today was a beach run followed by a parking-lot lift session (Leg Day) in 35-degree weather with rain. I did not have a lot of time to consider how miserable this workout was going to be, but the thought crossed my mind.

I arrived at the workout group about 10 minutes late, but the members were waiting on me and probably hoping I would cancel. Since we were all here anyway, we might as well do something. So we proceeded as planned with a four-mile run on the beach. The fact that this was not a good way to wake up was confirmed immediately as sand from the driving wind off the bay hit our faces as we ran. Nonetheless, we kept moving.

2. Just get moving. Walk before you run and mix in some stretches. The next thing you know, you are out of the house and you might as well keep going. I realize answering a question about tips to get moving by replying "just get moving" is a bit elementary, but you do not have to overthink this and make it any more difficult than just getting moving.

There was a moment today that made all the difference, both mentally and physically. About 10 minutes into the run, I thought to myself, "this is not so bad once we got moving [and stayed moving]." That is the No. 1 solution to any task that we are putting off or considering skipping: just get moving in the direction you want to go.

3. Always know that you will feel better. You always will feel better if you do something versus skipping it. I never have regretted my decision to get moving when I considered staying in bed or skipping a workout. When I have to skip a workout, it does not sit with me well for the rest of the day. Mood, productivity and general energy levels can be affected negatively when you skip something. Doing something -- even if it's only a 20-minute walk -- is better than doing nothing. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

4. Have something you enjoy doing. At some point, you have to like the activity that you're disciplined to do every day. Not enjoying the beach run was one thing, but knowing we were going to lift after the run gave me something to look forward to as we trudged through the sand, wind and rain before dawn.

By the time we were finished with running, it had quit raining, and we even started to see the sun (at least it was daylight). We were in it to win it. We followed the beach run with a leg-day lift in the parking lot. For specifics, we did the following:

Repeat 3 times

Deadlift: 5

Kettlebell squats: 10

Kettlebell swing: 20

Box jumps: 10

Farmer walks: 50 meters

Walking lunges: 400 meters

We are preparing for an event that requires a 400-meter lunge walk later this month.

After the above workout, a few of the group went to top off leg day with a mile swim with fins.

We are doing these outdoor workouts mainly because our group would not meet the COVID-19 requirements in any of the gyms we normally use. Instead of not going to the gym, we carry the gym with us and each member of the group brings his or her equipment. No excuses.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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