In the field of exercise psychology, there’s something called the “rational education” approach. A 2020 research paper published in the British Journal of Health Psychology described the concept succinctly:

This approach assumes that individuals are rational and if provided with complete information pertaining to a behaviour, they are likely to change their behaviour in the desired manner. … Nonetheless, it is quickly becoming evident that individuals often behave in ways that do not serve their self-interests (Ekkekakis & Zenko, 2016).

Translation: The rational approach is failing. Look better, be healthier, have better sex — it sounds like a bulletproof sales pitch for consistent exercise, but it’s clearly not working for the vast majority of the population. (You know the obesity stats; no need for another recap.) Time for a motivational refresh.

The following five exercise-related strategies are not the same old clichéd hacks that abound on social media. Rather, they are derived from actual peer-reviewed research studies, and implementing one or more of them could make your workouts more engaging, more enjoyable and yes, more motivating.