START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

3 Ways to Find Your Workout Motivation

  • February 25, 2011
  • 4:01 pm
  • 1 of 3
3 Ways to Find Your Workout Motivation

When all you feel like doing is riding the couch, try this no-fail tricks to jumpstart your workout mojo

By Liz Plosser, Women’s Health

Women are 30 percent less active at this time of year than when the days are long and the temps are balmy, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. But new research on the psychology of motivation suggests that when your drive to sweat is at an all-time low, the fix may be as simple as changing up your approach. “We’re talking about easy but incredibly effective ways to achieve goals,” says Ian Ayres, Ph.D., an economist and a professor at Yale Law School, who examines successful motivation techniques in his recent book Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done.

8 Motivating reasons to start regular exercise.

Make a Commitment Contract

In a perfect world, you work out regularly because you actually like all the heart-pumping, endorphin boosting, waist-slimming benefits that come with it. Researchers call that intrinsic motivation, and it’s a critical factor for staying with a long term routine. But when your inner drive is thwarted, external incentives can give you the boost you need, says Ayres. It’s an idea grounded in behavioral economics, a tool used by many corporations to motivate their employees and improve their bottom lines.

Incentives work like a charm for some (a 30-minute jog each day for a month = a new Marc Jacobs tote), but behavioral economists such as Ayres say that the flip side—penalties for missing a sweat session—are even more effective… especially when they involve your hard-earned cash.

“People will work twice as hard when money is at stake compared with relying only on their willpower,” he says. Try it: Register your goal and credit-card info at If you don’t do a predetermined number of workouts, the charity of your choice gets a payday, courtesy of you. “This is even more effective if you give money to something you don’t like,” adds Ayres. Diehard liberal? Set up your account to donate to a conservative group, and watch your sweat fly.

Hate doing crunches? This workout uses props and new moves to flatten your belly and keep your interest.

Or make a friendly wager among coworkers or friends: Everyone ponies up $10 and whoever logs the most workout sessions over three months wins the pot. This is an ideal commitment device because you have a financial prize and punishment in place simultaneously. “Just make sure the group is large enough,” warns Ayres. “If you have fewer than three people, you give each other room to slack off.”

In behavioral economics, these tactics are called commitment contracts; they work by removing and reducing choices. And you don’t have to dole out dollars to feel the pressure, adds Ayres. Let’s say you register for a walkathon. You’re signing your name to that goal. Elevate that sense of duty by sharing the plan with friends or walk for a cause that requires you to raise funds. You’re far less likely to bail if you’ve already hit up friends and coworkers for donations.

  • 1 of 3

Read more: Fitness, General Health, Health, , , , , , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Rodale is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice.


+ add your own
3:00PM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

Thank you for the article.

6:00AM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

most of my workouts are motivated by guilt, but in a good way. I meet friends at the gym and don't want to be the one that doesn't show up. I always feel better after the fact.

8:13AM PDT on Mar 24, 2011

very cool article thank you!

7:55PM PDT on Mar 21, 2011

Thankyou I need this

10:56AM PDT on Mar 16, 2011

I agree with teaha, a friend can make time fly, mabye even be a little fun! :)

9:51AM PST on Mar 5, 2011


2:46PM PST on Mar 2, 2011

these are ok ideas, maybe also get a workout partner

8:32AM PST on Mar 2, 2011

What really matters is setting goals for yourself and respecting yourself enough to carry them through. Writing them down helps a lot.

9:46AM PST on Mar 1, 2011


5:27AM PST on Mar 1, 2011

thanks for sharing.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

I have no desire to give up cheese. I'm learning how to make it myself from organic milk and have a…

Hemp is better than cotton for clothing and doesn't use as much water and needs no pesticides , also…

Good stuff! Thanks

I love carrots and eat them as an afternoon snack. I was no aware of alll the benefits so that makes…


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.