How to motivate yourself to exercise first thing in the morning

These days, most people have heard the message that they ‘should’ be exercising everyday.

Yet so many of us don’t – according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2007/2008 a whopping 72% of Australian adults did little to no exercise. This comes at a time when diseases like diabetes and heart disease (closely linked with diet and lifestyle) are at an all time high.

So, if we have the evidence that exercise is good for our health, we have the knowledge of what we need to do (at the very least 30 minutes a day) why aren’t we doing it?

A lot of people tell me they ‘just don’t feel motivated’ to get out of bed and exercise. Your brain will come up with a hundred and one reasons about why you should stay in bed. You’ve probably told yourself things like “It’s so warm in bed and it’s so cold outside.” Or, “I’ll exercise tonight instead.” Or, “I went to bed later than usual last night so I should probably keep sleeping.” But the (hard to hear) truth? These are all just excuses. Whether they’re true or not, they are a story your brain is telling you that stops you from achieving what you set out to do. The simple fact is that if you have decided to exercise in the morning, then it’s likely you’ll feel better if you stand by that decision.

Luckily, I have some small easy steps you can take that will have you jumping out of bed as soon as you wake up!

Picture it: you’ve set your alarm for the early hours of the morning so you can get up and do a quick walk before going to work. But it’s warm and cozy in bed, and it would be so easy to snooze the alarm and go back to sleep…


  • Focus on the first step. When you’re lying in bed, don’t think about how cold it will be when you are outside, or how much effort it’s going to take to walk all the way around the block – just think about right now. Focus on the task at hand – getting out of bed. Then, once you’ve gotten out of bed, focus on the next task – getting dressed. Focusing on a task that is many steps ahead of where you are currently (ie walking along the river, when you are currently in bed) can be overwhelming and make the task seem impossible.
  • Notice the difference between your thoughts and your actions: you have a choice. Notice what you’re thinking in bed, along the lines of ‘it’s so warm and cozy here’ ‘I could just snooze the alarm’. Then, acknowledge those thoughts, and make a choice to get up anyway. An example of how this might sound in your head: ‘Hmm, I’m noticing that I’m thinking that I could just press snooze on my alarm instead of getting up. I value my health though, so I’m going to do it anyway.’
  • Make it easy for yourself. Who wants to get up and root around in the dark for their runners? Putting out your exercise clothes the night before makes it easy to step straight into them. And once you’re in them, it’s that much easier to make it out the door. Lay out clothes, runners, water bottle, music player, keys – whatever you need to take with you.
  • Give it ten minutes. Consider making an agreement with yourself that when you really don’t feel like exercising, you don’t have to – as long as you do ten minutes of it. Often the hardest part of exercising is just getting to the starting point – whether that’s the gym or out on the road on your bike – and once you get there, you feel better and start enjoying yourself. Agreeing to give it at least ten minutes before you give up gives you a much higher chance of then finishing off whatever session you had planned – as well as the option to make the choice to stop if you really are feeling unwell or unable to exercise.

Have you tried any of these tips and tricks? What stories does your brain tell you to keep you from your exercise routine?