How 15 Women Stay Motivated to Move Their Bodies

New Balance

Your 5 am alarm sounds, and instead of waking up and hitting the gym, you’re side-eyeing your workout gear and questioning, “Do I need to go?”

With the weather getting colder, waking up in the morning for your daily exercise routine feels like a chore. It’s funny how our mind provides justifications when we don’t want to do something, despite feeling motivated the night before. 

It’s currently recommended for Australians aged 18-64 to get in at least 150-300 minutes of physical activity per week (that’s about 20 minutes a day). However, while it sounds easy, 20 minutes can feel like 20 hours when we lack motivation. 

Sometimes no amount of inspirational quotes can get us off the couch, but it’s during those times when we need exercise the most. It’s important to note that exercise isn’t just for those who want to look and feel fit but also for people who struggle with their mental health. 

When we move, our bodies release chemicals like endorphins and serotonin, which help boost our mood and can profoundly impact depression, anxiety, and ADHD. You don’t need to hit the gym to feel good either because something as simple as a walk around the neighbourhood can instantly lift spirits and clear your mind for the remainder of the day. 

We asked 15 women how they stay motivated to move their bodies. Whether it’s a new pair of shoes like New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 ($220) that gets you out of bed in the morning, or the lure of an endorphin hit, keep scrolling to see what everyone had to say, and find a bit of extra motivation.

Allison, 28

I have two dogs, so they are always a good motivator. They require daily exercise and get so excited for the daily walk down to the dog park for a throw of the frisbee. I also love nothing more than the end of the day, when I head to a gym session with a mix of cardio and weights to clear my mind after work.

It’s a good reset for my mental health. In my mid-20s, I had a chronic back injury, so it’s been my motivation to stay consistent with my exercise routine. Showing up even when you don’t feel like it is the key. I never regret a workout, and there is nothing like post-exercise endorphins, so strap on your running shoes and get moving!

Jackie, 29

The gym is my happy place, so I don’t really need much to get me out of the office and into the weight room. Typically, I go before work, but I’ll always try and get in after if I can’t manage it in the mornings. Evening sessions can be a drag though, as really all you want to do is flop on the sofa and binge Netflix.

However, I know that, despite what my brain is telling me, I’m going to feel a tonne better hitting the gym than I am the ‘next episode’ button. It’s always helpful to think of the rewards rather than the effort, and I try and stay mindful and treat the gym as a celebration of what my body can do rather than a chore that I have to do. 

Natasha, 25

I’m lucky my job keeps me moving most of the day; whether I’m running around the city, attending events or travelling, I’m always on the move. Although, when it comes to office and WFH days, I like to start the morning with a reformer pilates session. I truly believe it keeps me motivated to work all day, and what better way to start the day than with an empowering pilates session.

If I can’t get to my pilates class, I try to do a walk after work — even if it’s just for 45-minutes — and a quick ab session in the living room with resistance bands. If I’m working from home, I wear my sneakers all day to help keep me motivated to move at the end of the day, and I also wear a watch that keeps me on track and even tells me when I’ve been sitting too long.

My partner and I tackle a hike around Sydney on the weekend, depending on the weather. If it’s raining, we do a gym session together. It’s a great way to spend time together and keep each other accountable for our personal fitness goals. 

Steph, 24

I started working out when I was still in high school and this quickly became a part of my regular daily routine. It can be hard to stay motivated sometimes but changing up my workouts regularly and constantly buying new gym outfits and sneakers (like the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 ($220)) are definitely my biggest motivations! I like to keep my body moving and exercise regularly to keep my health and mind in a great place. I normally like to go to the gym and do strength-based workouts and go on regular walks to keep my steps up. However, playing tennis has been a recent hobby that I have enjoyed a lot.

Alana, 25

I started working out regularly as a way to deal with my anxiety and OCD. I realised that the routine of packing a bag for the gym, working through a program and tracking my progress is a great way to remind myself that anxiety isn’t the only emotion I can feel, especially during particularly stressful times. That’s what motivated me to begin, and now I do it because it genuinely makes me feel happy. I know I’ll feel better when I get up and move — I think it’s a combination of endorphins, achieving goals and, honestly, just a lame sense of satisfaction from sticking to my routine. Whatever the reason, it made me really fit, and I’ve never felt better!

Stephanie, 26

A few years ago, I had some significant setbacks with some of my chronic illnesses, which left me unable to walk for more than six minutes at a time. That kind of physical deterioration is really isolating, and it’s really hard to navigate. With a paced physio program that took months, and months, and months, I was finally able to regain that basic strength and fitness that enabled me to do simple things again. My motivation to move is mostly that I know what it’s like not to be able to do really basic things, like saying yes to grabbing food after a movie, because the restaurant is 13 minutes away and you’ve already hit your limit on how much you can do in a day. I don’t want to go back to that, and now I’m very grateful to be able to do the most basic forms of movement because with it comes my freedom.

Basmah, 24

You know those people who signed their life away to the gym and pay a membership fee each month but still can’t be bothered going? That’s me. A little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with anxiety and mild OCD, which was a direct result of the pandemic and not being able to see loved ones for an extended period of time. It was then that I decided to make certain lifestyle changes, and introducing physical activity into my day-to-day routine was one of them. While I’m not disciplined enough to go to the gym every day, I love to go on long walks. If I’m working from home, I’ll go and visit my local park during my lunch break and if I’m in the office, I’ll wander around the city to help get my steps up. It may not seem like much, but walking has improved my mental health and gives me more clarity.

Amanda, 33

Running, for me, is more than exercise. I run because it’s an opportunity to get some fresh air and have some alone time without my phone or distraction — only my thoughts! I work in a role that means I’m talking to different people all day (which I love!) and then come home to a toddler who demands all my attention, so that 30 minutes when I’m outside is the only time I really get to myself. Prioritising it is not a choice; it’s a habit. In the same way that I wake up and brush my teeth, I will always find the time in the day to go for a run. It’s either early in the morning before my daughter wakes up at 6am or after she’s gone to bed. If there’s the odd day where I can’t make it outside (or the rain is really intense, which is so often the case in Sydney these days), I’ll do pilates or a Centr workout out the back in the rain (so I feel like Thor). Turning exercise into a habit vs a chore didn’t happen overnight, it took years of dedication, but the payoff means I have the energy to live a full, fun life and run around after a busy toddler. 

Tina, 27

My main motivator for moving is that it’s an opportunity to clear my head, and I feel far better mentally if I’ve gone to the park for a walk or lifted some weights in the gym. During COVID, my partner and I really got into the habit of going for daily walks with our dog. It’s a good opportunity for us to disconnect, put our phones away (when he’s not playing Pokemon Go) and check in with each other while getting some fresh air.

It can’t be underestimated how much being outside makes you feel so much better about everything generally. Outside of our walks, I find going to the gym and using my body to move is not only rewarding but a good stress-reliever. Being quite competitive I also like to beat my own personal best so pushing myself further is really rewarding as well.

Georgia, 23

Incorporating workouts that I genuinely enjoy into my routine keeps me motivated to exercise, but also keeps me motivated and on track at work. At the moment I’ve been running, but in the past I was really into boxing. New activewear never hurts either! I love trialling a new pair of sneakers or a new outfit to feel excited to get up and go in the morning. Lately I’ve been trialling the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 ($220). They’re incredibly comfortable, with a plush foam sole.

Angela, 30

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I’m now in my 30s or that I’m just a bit more comfortable in my own skin at this stage in my life, but I have finally learned that working out makes me feel good and it’s, therefore, worth doing for more than aesthetics. I’ll never be the person who jumps out of bed wanting to workout, but I now know that walking more often (thanks to my cute pup, Billy) and hopping on my spin bike for 20 minutes, every couple of days, makes me feel more mentally strong, less bloated, and generally more comfortable in my body. The fact that I now feel a bit stiff if I go a few days without working out is also pretty good motivation — now to just train myself to not sit like a pretzel while WFH.

Nicola, 27

I love going on a good ol’ fashion walk! I stay motivated to move by trying to integrate “active” catch-ups throughout the week with my girlfriends. We might go for a coffee and a walk or a spin class followed by brunch.

Shan, 24

I stay motivated to move by thinking about how good I feel afterward. I love to run, and it’s more about looking after my mental health because, at the end of the day, that’s what is most important.

Maddi, 27

As soon as my anxiety or stress levels begin to rise, its usually a sure sign I have let go of my morning exercise regime. This alone is really the only motivation I need to snap back into my routine. That said, implementing the following steps guarantees that I will deliver on my promise to get up and workout; set time aside in my calendar (sounds crazy, but it helps), have my exercise clothes ready the night before and book into a class to keep myself accountable.

Bridget, 19

I try and get to the gym a couple of times a week for a weights session but my go-to exercise has always been walking, especially during the pandemic. I’m always in better mood and much less stressed when I go for a walk and I usually listen to my favorite podcasts to keep me motivated.

If you’re looking for a pair of shoes that’ll help you bound out of bed each day and get moving, try the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 ($220), and let us know what you think!

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