16 Best Motivational Quotes for Fitness

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Motivational quotes are much more than just words. They can be effective mantras for propelling you toward getting fit -- and staying that way. So make room on your bulletin board, clear off the fridge magnets and post these quotes wherever they're bound to inspire you every day.

1. “Stop comparing yourself to others and start competing with yourself.”

It’s easy to covet your friend’s size 4 little black dress or your buddy’s ripped physique, but certified personal trainer Zuzka Light says fitness envy is futile. She uses the above quote as motivation for her clients to identify and exceed their own personal bests. “Everybody is different, and every body is different,” says Light, who has trained celebrities like actress Tia Mowry from the show Sister, Sister. “Beating your personal record and reaching your own goals is a lot more rewarding than comparing yourself to other people.” Need inspiration? Light recommends challenging yourself to give up sugary drinks for two weeks in favor of lemon-infused water, or trying to run a 10-minute mile if your best time to date is 12 minutes. It’s all about identifying your self-imposed limits ─ and pushing past them.

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Catherine Basu, founder of Fit Armadillo in Houston, Texas, calls on Thomas Edison’s wisdom to provide a much-needed dose of determination when training weight loss clients and runners. “When clients don’t see results on the scale right away, they can become discouraged,” says Basu. “It’s the small changes that make a difference over time.” She adds that it often takes anywhere from four to eight weeks for clients to start to feel a physical difference ─ and as long as six months before they acquire the proper habits for ongoing well-being. For those who have hit plateaus or feel frustrated that they haven’t seen results, Basu recommends incorporating interval training one to two times weekly or varying your routine to include new forms of exercise.

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3. “A little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing.”

Each year, The Walking Connection hosts a World Wide Walk, which has attracted participants from all 50 U.S. states, all Canadian provinces and 37 different countries. It’s part of co-founder Jo Ann Taylor’s commitment to getting people moving ─ a practice she has modeled by walking every single day for the last four years. Taylor points out that the keys are consistency and starting small. “Someone can be initially motivated to start a fitness program, but unless it becomes a habit, it doesn’t have the sticking power,” she says. “Incremental exercise, such as a goal of walking for a minimum of 10 minutes each day, feels obtainable.”

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4. “Falling down is an accident. Staying down is a choice.”

Of all of the motivational quotes on the walls at I Can Move Again (ICMA) in Provo, Utah, this particular quote resonates most with clients, according to owner Jack Mahoney. The wellness and fitness center caters to those who suffer from afflictions ranging from arthritis to fibromyalgia to lupus. “These folks have to work hard just to do the simplest things in life … but they are choosing to get up,” says Mahoney. The power of such motivational quotes was recently put to the test with a study of six different arthritis patients taking part in an ICMA-designed program for 12 weeks. The program paired exercise with elements of mindfulness, meditation, visualization and music containing subliminal affirmations. At its conclusion, the participants experienced improvements in 86 of 96 tested measurements of physical, social and emotional health.

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5. "Don’t talk. Don’t think. Just do it … now!”

Getting over the mental block can be half the battle when trying to start a new fitness routine. “For those who don’t already ‘do,’ there is often a physical, mental and/or emotional resistance point,” says performance expert Chris Weiler, who coined the above quote for his clients. “As such, many of these people spend a lot of time in the thinking, planning and ‘knowing they should’ stages, but often fail to take meaningful action long enough to effect behavioral changes.” To develop lasting habits, Weiler advocates taking one “small, actionable step” each day toward your stated fitness objective or goal. Reinforce the action by taking a minute to write down the action step over and over until you fill one page. Then, “Get up and do it!” encourages Weiler

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6. “One hour from now, do you want to be sweaty ─ or sorry?”

Xen Strength Yoga’s Danielle Diamond typically works with her private training clients twice a week for one hour, but when they’re not together, Diamond leaves them with the above quote to motivate them to keep moving ─ and posing ─ in her absence. “I tell them to ask themselves if they’ve ever felt bad after they pushed themselves to work out,” says Diamond. “[The answer is always] ‘Of course not.’ But they always feel bad an hour later if they’ve wasted time on Facebook instead of on their yoga mat.” Making the choice to move can certainly be empowering. In a 2014 survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 54 percent of people who successfully completed a fitness program became happier.

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7. “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

Confucius’ wisdom can be applied to just about any area of life ─ and fitness is no exception. “We live in a world addicted to instant results,” says personal trainer Maria Brilaki, founder of the website Fitness Reloaded. “Combined with all-or-nothing thinking, we believe that if we don't do 30 or 60 minutes of exercise a day, then it's pointless. [But] Confucius advises that we don’t have to go fast. It’s OK to go slow; what matters is that we don’t give up. That’s how real progress happens.” To that end, Brilaki believes that daily, small steps are crucial to maintaining momentum ─ whether it’s taking the stairs rather than the elevator or exercising just five minutes a day. Figure out your realistic starting points and see what’s possible from there.

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8. “Abs are made in the kitchen.”

As a national-level fitness competitor, Kristin Shaffer has found that the key to successful weight loss is clean, consistent eating habits. “Many people, women in particular, hold on to the false belief that they can out-exercise a bad diet, but this is simply not true,” says Shaffer, who is also the founder of online community sites Figure & Bikini and FAB University. To adopt the right approach to eating, Shaffer encourages people to spend a few hours each week preparing meals in advance and portioning them into individual containers. “You just grab your containers full of healthy treats and go,” says Shaffer. “That’s my kind of fast food.”

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9. “Eat more, move less.”

Why should you adopt the inverse of the mantra “Eat less, move more?” Julie Fredrickson, co-founder of Minimum Viable Fitness, believes the old wisdom is not realistic or effective for those with busy mobile lifestyles. “We’ve found that the traditional mantra is actually precisely the opposite of what works well when you are always overloaded with more things to do,” says Fredrickson. Instead, she advises clients to focus on high return-on-investment exercises such as compound lifts, and to fuel their bodies with more high-protein foods and fibrous vegetables, rather than simply curbing food intake. The result? A more sustainable fitness and nutrition routine.

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10. “Summer bodies are earned in the winter.”

Though venturing into the snowy landscape may seem like a daunting task, working out in the cold can produce a hot body ─ and possibly even improve your performance. A study published in “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise” determined that as temperatures increased, runners’ performance slowed down. Getting outside for some brisk cold-weather exercise may also help your body burn more energy and avoid weight gain.

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Though Edward Stanley, the Earl of Derby, first coined this sentiment in 1873, it has lived on for over a century, thanks to its ability to put people on the path to fitness and wellness. Countless studies have concurred with Stanley's assertion, showing that choosing to be active can improve your health significantly. For instance, Harvard researchers have found that sedentary behavior such as prolonged TV watching was associated with a “significantly elevated risk” of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The good news? Even light to moderate activity was found to substantially lower the risk of such afflictions. Moral of the story: Find a way to move every day!

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12. “Goals without deadlines are only dreams.”

Angelique Millis, a certified trainer and creator of the Fit in 30 workout, knows what it’s like to try to get fit. She lost 40 pounds after gaining weight in college and now credits effective goal-setting for her successful weight-loss journey. “Goal-setting was such an integral part of my transformation,” says Millis. “Without goals, there is no accurate measure of progress toward getting what you want out of life.” Millis suggests taking the time to create a weight-loss strategy by setting goals and outlining the steps to implement them. Once you set goals, you can also prime yourself for success with motivational pictures and visual goal reminders. A study by Netherlands-based researcher Esther Papies found that dieters who were given subtle reminders of their goals were better at self-regulating when tempted to eat poorly.

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Whether trying to lose 10 or 100 pounds, Weight Watchers members lean on this mantra as a reminder that adopting new healthy habits is key to lasting weight loss. “Many people approach weight loss as a diet,” says leader Lisa Crozier, who lost 30 pounds with the program. “They make swift and extreme changes, usually involving deprivation and requiring superhuman willpower, in hopes of seeing quick results. Then they are often unable to stick with such drastic measures and give up, feeling defeated.” As an alternative, Crozier recommends starting with small, simple lifestyle changes that are easier to maintain ─ such as shopping for healthy foods regularly; wearing an activity monitor; making allowances for portion-controlled, reasonable indulgences; and finding a community of like-minded people also striving for wellness and weight loss.

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14.“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Author Neale Donald Walsch wasn’t talking about fitness, but these words certainly apply. For those just getting into the groove, starting a fitness routine can be a challenging, and at times even uncomfortable endeavor. However, life might really begin ─ or at least lengthen ─ once you start embracing exercise as part of your daily routine.

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15. “Stop saying tomorrow.”

When presented with a juicy burger or delicious pizza, it’s easy to say “I’ll start that diet … tomorrow.” You’re not alone ─ diet and fitness procrastination is pretty common, and often results in a negative behavior cycle. “It’s so easy to get caught up with something, feel tired or get too distracted [to work out or eat right],” says Katie Shattuck of the online fitness website MoveMeFit. “Whatever the reason, we’ve all said, ‘I’ll be better tomorrow.’ Then tomorrow comes and we do the same.” To push past procrastination, try avoiding trigger situations and setting deadlines ─ and instead devise rewards that will give you an incentive to meet those deadlines.

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16. “It is never too late to be who you might have been.”

Instructor Maria Groten, at Austin, Texas-based RIDE Indoor Cycling, always offers the above saying (attributed to author George Eliot) as a motivational send-off for her students after they have sweated and spun their way to the end of a challenging class. “I love this quote because it reminds me that life doesn’t end as we get older,” says Groten. “It’s never too late for dreams to come true.” And it’s never too late to start working out: A study published in November 2013 in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found that men and women older than 63 who began exercising later in life still experienced significant health benefits, such as staying disease-free, avoiding depression and maintaining healthy brain function.

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Which Quotes Motivate You Most?

Do you use motivational quotes to help reach your fitness goals? If so, what’s your favorite quote? Why does it help to motivate you? Leave a comment below and let us know. We would love to hear from you!

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