Motivation to Start Exercise

Motivation for exercise, lady working out

One of the most difficult anomalies in life is to reconcile the fantastic feeling one has when you have done a great workout, against the Sisyphean chore to even get off the couch and put your trainers on! This article is designed to help you understand the reasons why you find it difficult to get going and give you a nudge to hopefully get you started.

Reasons For Not Being Motivated

Several biological and psychological factors contribute to why it can feel easier to do nothing than exercise:

Energy Conservation: From an evolutionary standpoint, our bodies are wired to conserve energy whenever possible. This was crucial for survival in times of scarcity, as it helped us store resources for essential activities like finding food and escaping predators. This inherent desire to conserve energy can manifest in a preference for rest overexertion, especially when faced with the immediate physical demands of exercise.

Dopamine and the Reward System: Our brains are wired to seek pleasure and reward. Activities that trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward and motivation, feel inherently pleasant and desirable. While exercise can eventually lead to increased dopamine release and feelings of satisfaction, the initial effort and discomfort can be off-putting, making other activities that provide more immediate gratification seem more appealing.

Comfort and Familiarity: Inactivity is often associated with comfort and familiarity. Resting on the couch or scrolling through your phone requires minimal effort and can feel like a natural extension of your daily routine. Conversely, starting a new exercise routine can involve unfamiliar movements, potential discomfort, and a learning curve, which can feel daunting and lead to resistance.

Psychological Factors: Beyond biological mechanisms, several psychological factors can contribute to the perceived ease of doing nothing. These include:

  • Lack of motivation: Finding the initial motivation to start and the ongoing motivation to maintain an exercise routine can be challenging.
  • Negative self-talk: Doubting your abilities, fearing failure, or negative self-talk about your body image can discourage you from even trying.
  • Perfectionism: Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself or aiming for immediate results can lead to discouragement and a tendency to avoid exercise altogether.

It’s important to remember that while it may initially feel easier to do nothing than exercise, the long-term benefits of physical activity are undeniable. By understanding the reasons behind this initial resistance and employing strategies to overcome them, you can make exercise a more enjoyable and sustainable part of your life.

man running to motivate exercise

Reasons To Not Exercise

While it’s important to prioritize exercise for overall health, many people cite various reasons for not incorporating it into their routines. Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Lack of time: This is frequently the most common reason people give for skipping exercise. Busy schedules filled with work, family commitments, and other responsibilities can leave little room for perceived non-essentials.
  2. Low motivation: Getting started and staying consistent with an exercise routine can be challenging, and sometimes people simply lack the initial drive or struggle to maintain it.
  3. Feeling out of shape or overweight: The fear of being judged at the gym or feeling self-conscious about their physical condition can deter people from exercising, especially in public settings.
  4. Disliking traditional exercise: Some people find traditional forms of exercise like running or weightlifting boring or monotonous, making them less likely to stick with a routine.
  5. Health concerns or limitations: Underlying health conditions, injuries, or physical limitations can make certain types of exercise inadvisable or even risky. It’s crucial to consult a doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any pre-existing health concerns.
  6. Lack of access to resources: Financial constraints or limited access to gyms, equipment, or safe outdoor spaces can be a barrier for some individuals.

Remember, these are just some of the reasons people might use to avoid exercise. It’s important to be understanding and encouraging, and to focus on finding solutions and alternative options that can help people overcome these challenges and incorporate physical activity into their lives.

Start with Short Workouts

Feeling like you don’t have enough time for exercise is a common hurdle, but there are several ways to overcome it and incorporate physical activity into your busy schedule. Here are some tips:

Find shorter, more efficient workouts:

  • HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training): Short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest periods can be highly effective in 15-30 minutes. Many free HIIT routines are available online or through fitness apps.
  • Bodyweight exercises: Utilize your own bodyweight for resistance training without needing equipment. Exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks can be done anywhere, anytime.
  • Quick home workouts: Many online resources offer short, targeted workouts that can be done at home in 10-20 minutes.

Integrate movement into your daily routine:

  • Active commutes: Walk, bike, or take the stairs whenever possible for short errands or commuting to work.
  • Active breaks: Get up and move every 30-60 minutes during your workday. Do some stretches, walk around the office, or take the stairs a few times.
  • Household chores: Turn everyday activities like cleaning, gardening, or yard work into mini workouts by adding intensity or focusing on specific muscle groups.

Plan and prioritize:

  • Schedule workouts: Treat exercise like an important appointment on your calendar and stick to it as much as possible.
  • Find an exercise buddy: Having someone to work out with can increase accountability and motivation.
  • Multitask when possible: Listen to music or audiobooks during your workout to maximize your time.


  • Every bit counts: Even small amounts of activity are beneficial. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week, but even shorter bursts are better than nothing.
  • Be realistic: Start small and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts as your fitness level improves.
  • Focus on progress, not perfection: Don’t get discouraged by setbacks. Celebrate your progress and focus on creating sustainable habits.

By incorporating these strategies, you can overcome the time barrier and make exercise a regular part of your life, even with a hectic schedule. Remember, prioritizing your health and well-being is always an investment worth making.

Plank lady doing exercise

12 Minute Stretches12 minute stretching

Motivations to Get Exercising

There’s no single “best” way to get motivated to exercise, as it depends on your individual preferences and what works best for you. However, several strategies can help you find your groove and get moving:

1. Find activities you enjoy: This is crucial. If you hate running on a treadmill, explore other options like dancing, swimming, rock climbing, or team sports. When you find activities you genuinely enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with them in the long run.

2. Set realistic goals: Don’t aim for a complete lifestyle overhaul overnight. Start with small, achievable goals, like exercising for 15 minutes three times a week. Gradually increase the duration or intensity as you get stronger and more confident.

3. Make it convenient: Schedule your workouts in advance and treat them like any other important appointment. Prepare your workout clothes and gear the night before, and choose a time that fits well within your daily routine.

4. Find an accountability partner: Having a friend, family member, or workout buddy can be incredibly motivating. Encourage each other, celebrate each other’s successes, and hold each other accountable for showing up and working hard.

5. Track your progress: Seeing your progress can be a powerful motivator. Use a fitness tracker, journal your workouts, or take pictures to document your journey. Recognizing your improvements can fuel your motivation to keep going.

6. Reward yourself: Celebrate your milestones! After reaching a goal or achieving a personal best, reward yourself with something you enjoy, like a new workout outfit, a massage, or a fun activity.

7. Focus on the positive: Instead of dwelling on the perceived negatives of exercise, focus on the numerous benefits. Exercise improves your mood, energy levels, sleep quality, and overall health. Remind yourself how good you feel after a workout, not just during the initial effort.

8. Seek inspiration: Surround yourself with positive influences. Follow fitness accounts on social media, read articles about the benefits of exercise, or watch motivational videos. Seeing others achieve their fitness goals can inspire you to pursue your own.

9. Join a fitness class or group: Group activities can provide a fun and social environment that can keep you motivated and engaged. The camaraderie and shared experience can make exercise more enjoyable than working out alone.

10. Start small, celebrate often, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. Celebrate your progress, don’t get discouraged by setbacks, and find ways to make exercise a positive and rewarding part of your life.

In summary, if you are like me you can really find it difficult to get out of the chair and start exercising, I need to brainwash myself that no matter what, it is the right thing to do, which will be reinforced in my next article. In the meantime, JFDI.

20 Minute Workout20 Minute beginners workout

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Didge Smith

Being the canary in the coalmine on adventures so that others don't make the same mistakes I've made! Turning my hand to other life fulfilling topics.

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