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Motivate Yourself to Exercise

Try these quick tips from Real Simple readers.

White bikini on a hangerKate Sears

X Marks the Spot

The only thing that looks worse than an ill-advised lower-back tattoo on a 36-year-old mom is that same tattoo placed squarely between two love handles. Exercise is essential to my general well-being, but the tattoo―and its strategic placement―serve as an additional motivator.
Katherine Wyrick
Little Rock, Arkansas

Attitude Adjustment

My husband gave me a sassy white “Bond girl” bikini. It inspires me to run. He thinks I’m as sexy as a Bond girl; exercise gives me the inner courage to agree.
Reagan Kaufman
Cheyenne, Wyoming
I work out at a local gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If I complete my regimen for a week, I treat myself to a $2.99 bouquet of fresh flowers from the grocery store near my gym.
Mary Thomas
Indianapolis, Indiana
I flip my mental switch and imagine myself getting out of my BMW 5-series (which I do not actually have) while my long, lean, ridiculously hot legs force everyone to stare. This works every time.
Heidi Erhard
Vancouver, Washington
I put a sticky note on my alarm clock reminding me why I want to exercise. Some days I’ll write “Post-workout high,” and other days it’s “Bathing-suit season.” Either way, it reminds me of a reason, so I’m not just waking up and groaning with dread.
Shannon Dunleavy
Darien, Connecticut
I discovered that I would rather be eaten by angry army ants than go to the gym, so I exercise at home using workout DVDs.
Allison Towne
Omaha, Nebraska
Whenever I can convince myself to walk to work instead of taking the bus, I use the bus fare to buy scratch-off lottery tickets at the convenience store I pass on the way. Even though I’ve won only small amounts, the possibility of hitting it big keeps me going.
Ronni Krasnow
New York, New York

Mirror, Mirror

I recently read an article about how fear is actually a motivator to exercise. I realized that the fear of becoming larger than I would like is the real motivator behind my moves.
Julie Wood
Roy, Utah
My mother is my genetic destiny. Meaning her body shape looked a lot like mine when she was my age. Having seen her body change over the years and what it has looked like in both the good and bad moments of her diet and exercise regimens, I’m extremely motivated to make sure I maintain the good through exercise.
Lisa Fritts
Morristown, New Jersey
When I don’t feel like exercising, I remind myself of all the health and emotional benefits I will experience. However― let’s face it―that doesn’t always work or we would always exercise. So when that fails, I get naked and jump up and down in front of my full-length mirror. That little trick always seems to get me moving.
Alyson Sorenson
Ardmore, Oklahoma
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