There are many benefits to exercising however for many people getting motivated to exercise seems to be a challenge. To help understand the benefits of exercise, what makes it difficult for some people to get motivated to exercise and exercise motivation tips for the unmotivated, I have interviewed therapist Jenny Grace Shaw, M.ED, LMHC, CPT, CWS.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I hold a Masters degree in Education and Counseling, a Bachelors degree in Psychology, Minor in Sociology, and am Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I have a passion for people, listening to and understanding their life journeys, advocating for their needs, educating and supporting them through trials and tribulations, and guiding them towards long term emotional, physical, and spiritual health; their authentic self.
I have several years of experience working with couples, individuals, groups, families, school and court systems, and communities. I am passionate for ‘different' cultures, ethnicities, ideologies, backgrounds, religious and spiritual beliefs. Currently, I have a private practice on the island of Maui while also serving as the Behavioral Health Specialist for the state of Hawaii.”
What are the benefits of exercise?
“In my opinion, the benefits of exercise are too many to simply state, but for the purposes of this article I will name the seven most recognized for the general public.
Exercise improves our moods, helps us fight against health issues and diseases, improves our sex life, helps to manage weight, improves our sleep habits, boosts energy, and can be fun.
Regular exercise is a wonderful way to de-stress, manage stress, cope with feelings, gain a sense of control, build a stronger self-esteem, accomplishment, and ‘ground' us as we are confronted with daily challenges and responsibilities.
Keeping a regular exercise routine promotes structure in our daily activities thus, promoting, better sleep, and consistent overall health care (watching our food intake, managing our medications, attending our regular doctor's appointments, securing proper hygiene, etc).
When one feels better internally, it (for the most part) generates into feeling good externally thus, our energy and desire for sex and intimacy is enhanced.
Finally, exercise is a great way to have fun! To celebrate living! Just think about it, even spectators of a game (basketball, Football, etc) are engaging socially, celebrating, and demonstrating great boosts of energy'”now, when one actually participates'”ooohhh! What a rush!! What a great way to meet new people, build new relationships, engage in the community, and even learn a new skill!”
What makes it difficult for some people to be motivated to exercise?
“Motivation is a phenomenal thing! With regards to exercise, the definition; ‘that which gives purpose and direction to behavior' tells us that in order to be motivated to exercise, we must have a reason, and in many cases, a darn good one!
Some find this ‘reason' easier than others. Some have an innate desire to be a professional athlete, thus, consistent practice (exercise) is the key to their goal for sure. Some people are what I would describe as ‘concrete thinking' exercisers. These individuals find it pretty easy to exercise when they have a concrete goal, i.e. completing a six week boot camp, losing ten pounds or running a marathon.
When the goal is achieved, the race finished, the pounds lost, they either quit or ‘take a break'– for unless they have another goal already secured in their brain, they will be ‘off the exercise wagon for a while.'
Finally, others really struggle with being motivated to exercise. They hate to sweat, feel embarrassed, don't have time (ever), have some physical challenges they believe to be too much to work through or they just plain hate exercise; even the words ‘gym or fitness center' seem foreign to them.
No matter the case, having the motivation to exercise is individual and there is no right or wrong, in my view. So if you are the ‘concrete thinking' exerciser and it works for you, Great! If you are the continually ‘non-motivated' exerciser, my first question would be,' Do you want to change that?' If so, ‘why?' and/or ‘why not?' In other words, if you are looking for motivation, do not hold your breath, it doesn't just come to you (at least not long term).
One must create the motivation. If you find yourself motivated to exercise ONLY because your spouse is telling you to, odds are it may not become a routine. If, on the other hand, you CHOOSE to exercise no matter who is telling you what, you are creating your own motivation. It's all in your thinking—you are that powerful!”
What are some exercise motivation tips for the unmotivated?
“As mentioned above, one of the very best ways to CREATE motivation to exercise is to identify your goals, identify the thinking or beliefs you have surrounding the goal, educate yourself about them, develop a plan, get support, and go for it!
A great example would be, if I have always wanted to complete a marathon, but my motivation is low because I am sure I can't do it, don't have someone to run it with, am embarrassed of how I will look etc., odds are I am going to keep putting this desire off and yet, still talk about it. However, if I were to look at this goal in a different light, I would identify my goal, write down all of the beliefs or thinking I have about attaining the goal, break the ‘big' goal down into little ones, problem solve'”educate myself on how to turn those negative thoughts around, develop a plan, FOLLOW the plan (yes, believe it or not, many miss this piece), and just to keep my motivation high, reward myself for every little goal achieved along the way.
Having an exercise partner or partners is very motivational! When one of you is feeling like ‘bagging the exercise for the day' the other is designated as cheerleader and both end up feeling accomplished, needed, and successful.
Making ‘appointments' for them gym can help to establish structure—we all have a much harder disappointing others than ourselves. Again, this is accountability, personal choice'”not force'”this is all empowerment.
Choosing activities that best suit your needs, likes, goals, and abilities is undoubtedly a strong motivator. How long do you really think I am going to continue a swim program if I am deathly afraid of the water? There is no good or bad exercise. What fits for you is just right!
As part of your goals, recognizing and preventing triggers that might prevent you from completing your exercise routine is very important. Part of this might be the time of day that would be best to secure an exercise routine and where.
Creating my own motivation is empowering, thus it actually re-energizes me to continue to exercise simply because I have already seen that I can do it and it's all on me! No one made me exercise because I did it myself! You can create your own motivation too!”