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How to Get Motivated for Physical Activity

Dr. Sara Powell
Dr. Sara Powell
Dr. Sara Powell
Dr. Sara Powell

We all know that physical activity is good for us and necessary for a healthy lifestyle. So why do we let it falter?

Dr. Sara Powell focuses on sport and exercise psychology in the department of kinesiology at Missouri State University.

Even outside of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals struggle with mental barriers to initiating and maintaining a physical activity routine, Powell noted.An interview with Dr. Sara Powell

She classifies the problems into three main categories: perceived lack of time, lack of motivation and lack of confidence.

“Motivation is just like any other muscle in your body,” she said. “A lot of the work that I do is in this realm of psychological skills intervention.”

Powell offers many suggesions for overcoming these barriers. She suggests:

  • Setting out your workout clothes the night before.
  • Scheduling calendar reminders.
  • Monitoring progress on a device.
  • Writing goals where you’ll see them throughout the day.
  • Signing a contract with yourself outlining your goals and strategy.


Accountability is a big part of physical activity. She suggests finding social support – whether in person or virtual – to help you keep up with others who want to achieve something similar.

“If a program is not set up incrementally, where you gradually increase the intensity and frequency, folks aren't going to stick to it,” she said. “When I'm working with individuals who are trying to start being active, we start with finding something they enjoy.”

Choosing an activity you enjoy will help as you push toward your goal. Powell said that focusing on mindfulness, positivity and being present are also helpful.

Copyright 2021 KSMU. To see more, visit KSMU.

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Nicki received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Missouri State in marketing, in 2002 and 2004 respectively. After gaining experience in writing, marketing, special event planning, fundraising and public relations, she returned to the university to work as the public relations specialist in the office of university communications. There she tells the university’s story by sharing the stories of individuals at Missouri State.