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11 Women On What Motivates Them To Work Out

What inspires you to get moving?

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Making the time for self-nurturing:

"Running gives me tons of energy, and it's my time every day to clear my mind and think through and assess things. Every major choice I've made in my life was decided on a run."

– Victoria H.

Courtesy of Hannah C.

"Working out is a powerful form of self-nurturing. Taking significant time out of my day to prioritize my health reaffirms my self worth and gives me a sense of accomplishment."

– Hannah C.

Being part of a team:

"I play sports because I like feeling like I'm a part of something. I like cheering when we're down, feeling good when we're in the lead, and the playful ragging between everyone when we lose. I've also made some really, really good friends!"

– Ashley C.

Matthew Paul Argall/ CC by 2.0 / Via Flickr: 79157069@N03

"For me, playing netball is a release from a stressful work life. I don't have to worry about anything else apart from being part of a team! The social side is great as well: We go away to butlins on a netball tour, and our team is a mix of ages from 18–45 so it's a chance to make good friends with people of all ages."

– Kimberly K.

Taking care of your mental health:

Courtesy of Mandy C.

"As I got older and realized how many of my friends and co-workers worked out, I admit I had a distorted view on it. I honestly viewed working out and going to the gym and all that as just something people do when they have to maintain a certain body or weight, like it was just what lots of people have to do to not gain weight or lose strength. Because I felt I was strong and slim enough doing nothing more than walking, I didn't 'get' the gym thing.

"But my anxiety had always been out of control at times. I was always trying to find natural relief for reducing stress, and everyone I asked about that in turn asked me this: 'What do you do for exercise?' The fact that my body did not have a physical outlet for this pent-up energy and stress was something I couldn't avoid, so I got a gym membership and began doing yoga and doing repetitive machine and cycling work – my favorite. I still don't particularly enjoy going to the gym when I could be at home drawing or painting, but there is no denying that I feel so much mental clarity after a workout and that making it a more consistent part of my week has helped me gain a lot of control over my anxiety and its symptoms."

– Mandy C.

To take time to reflect:

"As a kid, being outside and active meant I wasn't indoors doing chores, so that was great motivation! In school I did sports because I'm very competitive, but I also enjoyed the camaraderie of team sports. After years of pounding my knees, I have to do more leisure activities like walking and sometimes a light jog or hike, and those are great opportunities for reflection and general self-care...so equally for mental and physical health."

– Adriana R.

To break barriers:

Courtesy of Chitra R.

"For me, personally, I get a high from breaking barriers – both mental and physical. I remember the first time I did a push-up or monkey bars or jumped on a 30-inch box, I was ecstatic. This 'high' is what I seek in every training session. I know that if I give this workout my best, I will get that much closer to breaking my next barrier. This is what keeps me motivated."

– Chitra R.

For a sense of accomplishment:

"I exercise in order to feel strong, both mentally and physically. Exercising lifts my mood, and I feel a huge sense of achievement after finishing a tough workout.

"Exercise has also been a huge part of my recovery following my knee operation. Getting injured earlier this year has been a huge motivation for me to exercise, as I would like to avoid any further injury and be able to run around after my kids when I am older!"

– Sarah R.

"My previous accomplishments motivate me. I ran the NJ Marathon a few years ago. I was never a long-distance runner, thought I would never be a long-distance runner, and yet I always wanted to cross 'run a marathon' off my bucket list. It took a lot of time, self-discipline, motivation from friends, and many podcasts, but I did it. And now I know I could do it again."

– Casey C.

To connect with nature:

Stefan M/ CC by 2.0 / Via Flickr: stefanmuntwyler

"I work out because it's a way to say 'thank you' to my body for taking me wherever I need to go. I also run to connect with nature sometimes. When it's just me and a bunch of trees and birds, I feel a sort of peaceful wholeness that's hard to explain."

– Leslie R.

To feel STRONG

Courtesy of Jade Emily

"When people ask me why I strength train, I usually say, 'I want to be really strong. I want to be able to flip a car.' I'm incredibly independent so being able to physically do most things alone has always been incredibly important to me. People don't get it. People don't associate weight lifting with health – they associate it with bodybuilding. They ask me if I'm afraid of getting 'big'. I'm not.

"I like doing anything where I get results. Heck. Maybe in 2017 I'll flip a car. But even if I don't, I'm content being stronger than I was last week."

– Jade E.

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