We’ve all heard phrases about exercise. People say things like “running gives you a high” or “workout is addictive.” But for many of us, it’s difficult to find workout motivation or enjoyment in physical activity. Some people may even claim that they despise going to the gym, that they dread it, or that just thinking about going there causes them anxiety.
Why do some of us lack workout motivation and despise physical activity? How can we get around this obstacle so that we can reap the potentially life-saving benefits of getting our bodies moving?
Food was scarce for the majority of the time that humans have existed, so being active was a necessity rather than a choice. Because they did not know where their next meal was going to come from, humans had to rest after they had been fed to conserve their energy so they could travel to find food.
Resting is a natural human tendency. If you find yourself wanting to stay in and watch Netflix rather than go to the gym, you should try to console yourself by remembering that resting is a normal part of the human experience.
However, the lifestyles we lead in the 21st century involve an excessive amount of sitting and resting. Moving around is not required for daily survival anymore thanks to advancements in technology, labor-saving devices, and automobiles.
While these advances have benefits, a sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to our health and should be avoided at all costs. A meta-analysis that was published in the esteemed medical journal, The Lancet, found that a lack of physical activity was associated with a risk of colon cancer that was 30–40 percent higher, a risk of breast cancer that was 30 percent higher, a risk of type 2 diabetes that was 20–60 percent higher, and a risk of dying prematurely that was 30–50 percent higher.
The question is, how much actual physical activity do you require? It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes, but preferably 300 minutes, of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. This recommendation applies to people aged 18 to 65. A brisk walk, a light cycle ride, or mowing the lawn are all examples of exercises with moderate intensity.
You only need to consume one-half of that amount if you are willing to engage in strenuous physical activity (75-150 minutes per week). The term vigorous activity refers to any physical endeavor that is challenging enough that carrying on a conversation would be difficult, such as jogging or running around while playing a sport like football or tennis.
Because different types of physical activity provide a variety of benefits, it is recommended that people participate in a wide range of activities. To maintain strong bones and muscles, it is recommended to engage in muscle-strengthening activities on a biweekly basis, such as lifting weights or performing pushups.
If all of this is starting to sound like too much of a hassle, you can take comfort in the fact that any form of physical activity is beneficial for you. To reap the benefits of physical activity, it is not necessary to jump to the levels recommended by the guidelines. You can start small and build up from there.
10 Strategies to Boost Your Workout Motivation
There are two primary varieties of workout motivation, which are referred to as extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, in the field of psychology. Doing something for a personal reward or challenge of it is an example of intrinsic motivation, which arises from within an individual. The pursuit of extrinsic goals, such as the acquisition of a reward or the avoidance of a penalty, is an example of extrinsic motivation.
You can increase the amount of intrinsic workout motivation you have by thinking about the reasons why you should exercise.
1. Identify your why.
Do you want to improve your health by engaging in physical activity? Is it for your children to consume? Is it because of the way that exercise makes you feel? The effects of exercise on mood and vitality can be felt almost immediately, and its long-term benefits for health and function can have a positive ripple effect on your children. If you have a distinct image in your head of the benefits you anticipate gaining from exercise, it may be easier to motivate yourself to get moving.
2. Partner up.
Go for a run or attend a class with a group of friends. If you don’t want to disappoint your buddy, you’ll be more likely to stick to your workout plan. In addition, studies have shown that people tend to exercise for longer periods when they do so alongside friends and family members as opposed to when they exercise alone.
3. Make rewards for yourself contingent on meeting certain conditions.
You deserve a reward, so buy yourself some new workout clothes or shoes that you’ll look forward to wearing. It is important to ensure that the reward is earned by stipulating that it is contingent on completing a predetermined amount of physical activity.
4. Obtain a device that records your activity.
The majority of the features that are included in fitness trackers are geared toward boosting one’s motivation. These features include goal-setting, self-monitoring, and prompts. There is a wealth of evidence that points to activity trackers leading to increased levels of physical activity.
5. Perform physical activity at the same time every day.
According to some research, waking up earlier to exercise can help one form healthy habits more quickly than exercising in the evening. However, the most important thing is to be consistent.
6. Participate in a pastime that brings you joy.
Developing a new routine that includes physical activity is not easy. Perform an activity that you take pleasure in. This will increase the likelihood that you will continue with it. If you are doing a form of exercise that you enjoy, you may find that you can exercise at a higher intensity level without even being aware of it. Do not force yourself to run if you detest the activity. Instead, take a long stroll outside in the fresh air.
7. Start small.
Instead of going overboard, try to leave yourself wanting more of whatever it is you’re doing. You are also less likely to experience pain or injure yourself as a result of this.
8. Compile a playlist of energizing songs.
During exercise, if you listen to upbeat music, your mood will improve, and you will feel like you are exerting yourself less resulting in increased work output. These advantages are felt most strongly during rhythmic, repetitive forms of exercise, such as walking and running, which both fall into this category.
9. Go for a walk with your dog (or with the dog of a friend).
Those who walk their dogs do so more frequently and for longer periods than those who do not. They also report feeling safer and more socially connected in their neighborhood.
10. Make a monetary commitment to yourself.
Loss aversion is recognized as a driving force behind human behavior in behavioral economic theory. Some for-profit websites have capitalized on this phenomenon by convincing users to enter into a commitment contract in which they pay a monetary deposit that is lost if the user fails to fulfill the commitment to improve their health behaviors. It has been demonstrated that this strategy is effective in enhancing physical activity, medication adherence, and weight loss.
Things to remember
Be patient with yourself and keep your eye on the long game. It takes approximately three to four months to form a new habit, so give yourself time. Allow the intrinsic motivators to take over and keep you going with your exercise routine. A few months from now maybe you’ll be the one who’s addicted to working out and inspiring your friends and family to do the same.
If you’re having trouble with any of these workout motivation steps, a trained counselor can help. Reach out to our office to connect with someone to help you on your journey to health.
“Workout”, Courtesy of Julia Ballew, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Drink Water”, Courtesy of Ave Calvar, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stretching”, Courtesy of Bradley Dunn, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Online Workout”, Courtesy of Ave Calvar, Unsplash.com, CC0 License