Motivation Psychology Excercises

Even for people who love to work out, sticking to an exercise plan is a matter of motivation. Along with injuries and time constraints, lack of motivation is one of the primary reasons that most people quit their exercise plan. Why is it so hard to get motivated to exercise? And why, when you can be incredibly motivated at the outset of a weight loss program, does it become so hard to stay that way? There are no clear answers to these questions, but there are some steps you can take to motivate yourself to start exercising, and then to maintain that motivation until you achieve your weight loss or workout goals.

Developing an Exercise Plan

Developing a well-researched exercise plan can be very motivating. Here are some steps you can take to begin developing your exercise plan:

  • Research what exercise is all about. Ask your doctor or read a book about the benefits of exercise to learn how your body will change for the better. Ask active friends why they exercise and how it makes them feel. You’re likely to discover some inspiring things.
  • Write down what you find difficult about exercising. Once you’ve done that, you can systematically eliminate the difficulties. Free time a problem? Break your exercise blocks into smaller chunks. Can’t afford a gym? Buy some second-hand exercise equipment online.
  • Prepare. Draw up an exercise contract with yourself. Write out a daily exercise schedule. Go out and buy the proper attire.
  • Take action. Get out there and start exercising! Don’t think about it or make excuses; just stick to the rules of your contract and your schedule.

Maintaining Your Motivation

Now comes the tricky part. Once you’ve begun to exercise, you’ll need to make sure you stay motivated. Here are some things you can do to keep your motivation high:

  • Set attainable goals. Don’t make yourself jog for 30 minutes right away; start with 5 minutes if you need to. Don’t expect to lose 10 pounds in the first week; be happy if you lose one pound.
  • Get a partner. Try to find someone who will exercise with you — someone you can share your goals with and who will share goals with you. You’ll likely be able to feed off each other’s motivation.
  • Stay flexible. Don’t get discouraged if you miss a workout or break a rule. Just put it behind you and get back on track.
  • Choose fun exercises. Incorporate exercises you enjoy into your workout plan. If you prefer biking to running, then bike. If you get bored of that, find something else you enjoy.
  • Reward yourself. Not with food, obviously. But treat yourself to a movie or some other event you enjoy after a week of sticking to your plan.

Exercise can be unpleasant and even painful at first, especially if you’re not in good shape. However, you can take heart in the fact that within the first 30 minutes of any exercise session your body releases endorphins, a type of chemical that blocks pain receptors and may even cause feelings of euphoria. These feel-good chemicals can make exercise more pleasurable and keep you coming back for more.

Resources

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2010). Exercise – motivation. Retrieved September 22, 2010 from http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/how_can_a_person_be_motivated_exercise_000029_10.htm.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Fitness programs: 7 tips for staying motivated. Retrieved September 22, 2010 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fitness/HQ01543/NSECTIONGROUP=2.

McGovern, M.K. (2005). The effects of exercise on the brain. Retrieved September 22, 2010 from http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro05/web2/mmcgovern.html.