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What Motivates You to Exercise?

Real Simple readers share more tips that help them keep moving.

Weights, scale and a tape measureKana

Team Effort

My very good friend Kathy calls me and tells me to get my butt off the couch and take a walk with her. That’s all the motivation I need.
Carrie Smalley
Fairfield, Connecticut

I sign my son up for hour-long classes at our local YMCA. That way, I have no excuse not to exercise while I wait for him. It gets me in the gym, my son gets some fun time with his preschool friends, and I get my workout done and over with.
Erin Branscam
Omaha, Nebraska

I used to try to exercise to keep in shape, but that would last about half a week. In the last year, I finally figured out I could do it to spend time with my husband. With our psychotic schedules, we don’t see each other that often, but hiking around the neighborhood or visiting the gym together makes for pretty great use of our time.
Bre Vander Art
Los Angeles, California

My five-year-old son surprised me the other day by asking, “Mommy, did you go to Pil-a-teez today?” This reminded me that he’s keenly aware of my daily exercise routine, and it refueled my motivation to work out every day. I’m not the only one benefiting; my two young children are also learning about developing good exercise habits. As a bonus, now they’re learning new words, like elliptical and Bosu.
Robyn Belson
Voorhees, New Jersey

My grandson was so anxious to play with me one day that, when I told him I was getting old and couldn’t run anymore, he offered to play “walk tag.” How could I turn down such an offer? My motivation was to get moving so I could play tag with him for real. In the past year, I have lost 25 pounds and started walking on the treadmill three to five days a week. Now we play outside, go to the park, and enjoy our active times together.
Carolyn Schmidt
Akron, Ohio

When my nine-year-old asked me to run a two-mile race with him on Mother’s Day weekend, I had a hard time turning down the opportunity to make a memory. I’m not a runner, nor do I have a desire to be one, but knowing that my son, Noah, will happily have me by his side for two miles has driven me to make the treadmill my best friend every night after work. I keep a picture of him running last year’s race taped to the machine. This year I’ll be in the picture with him ― and I’ll be a healthier mom.
Heidi Krumenauer
Stoughton, Wisconsin

To celebrate our 10th anniversary this summer, my husband and I are dropping off the kids at their grandma’s and taking a tandem-bike trip through the Finger Lakes region of New York. It’s wasn’t so easy for me to exercise in the dark mornings and evenings of winter while training for a big bike trip, but the idea of seeing the sights from a bike and traveling at a human pace, alone with my husband, got me going even when I would have preferred to stay curled up in bed.
Mary Anne Van Zuyle
Westlake Village, California

Creature Comforts

My yellow Labrador, Lulu. No matter what the weather is like, she’s always ready to go running. When I really don’t feel like going for a run, I just look at her dancing around my running shoes and know it is time to go.
Jill Beaman
Eugene, Oregon

Last year I got a dog. Not just any dog, but a springer spaniel that has more energy than a classroom full of first graders. I’ve found that the key to keeping peace and quiet at my house is a good, long walk with my dog, Olive, every day ― even through freezing Minnesota winters.
Katie Furlong
Hibbing, Minnesota

My husband and I have four dogs and a membership to a fantastic dog park. Their wagging tails and excited whimpers are enough to motivate me to do just about anything.
Rachel Finney
Marysville, Ohio

Home Bodies

After years of wondering why I don’t love working out the way most of my friends seem to, I realized that it was the act of going to the gym that was the problem for me. The expense and the commitment, the urge to stay home instead, and the need to buy workout clothing were all major deterrents. I have since started recording Denise Austin’s daily half-hour workout. Much to my surprise and excitement, I now look forward to exercising. I wear what I want (even nine-year-old maternity leggings and an old T-shirt), do it when I want, and don’t worry how silly I look. Plus, I don’t have to add on travel time, socializing time, and so on.
Amy Cannizzo
Ardsley, New York
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