Tips on Finding Motivation to Exercise

Instead of force-feeding information about the countless health benefits of exercise, we want to help you discover your motivation to exercise, because this is far more effective. We all know that exercise is good. Like drinking the recommended daily water intake and eating your greens. This doesn’t mean that we all do it regularly, although we know we should. Facts on health benefits sometimes aren’t enough to get people exercising because it’s not personalised. The motivation to exercise is different for everyone, and so it makes sense that the motivation needs to come from within for it to really stick.

To understand what motivates you personally, or where you can find your source of motivation to exercise, let’s take a look at the two types of motivators that drive us to take part in fitness: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

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What is intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation is an energising of behaviour that comes from within an individual, out of will and interest for the activity at hand.  No external rewards are required to incite the intrinsically motivated person into action. The reward is the behaviour itself (, 2018). 

The rush of chemicals like endorphins and serotonin when exercising may be enough to motivate you to continue to exercise regularly. These chemicals can improve your mood, and the parts of the brain responsible for memory and learning (, 2018).

Intrinsic motivation is a valuable concept for active engagement. This is why health professionals often encourage people to start exercising by choosing something they enjoy, as the activity itself will be rewarding enough to want to repeat.

Finding motivation can be difficult for anyone, however it can be even more of a challenge for those suffering from mental health issues. Creating an exercise routine is tough but can become a lot more manageable if you find something you enjoy. Whether that’s taking your dog for a walk, swimming, going for a bike ride with a friend, yoga, or playing a sport, discover what interests you and you’ll find it much easier to exercise regularly.

Those who have intrinsic motivation to exercise are driven by the “happiness hormones” that rush through their body when they exercise. They love to feel the burn after a workout, or the runner’s euphoria experienced when in full motion.

What is extrinsic motivation?

Extrinsic motivation is behavior driven by external rewards such as money, grades, praise, etc. This motivation arises from outside the individual, as opposed to intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation occurs when we are motivated to perform a behavior in order to earn a reward or avoid punishment (Verywell Mind, 2018).

An extrinsic motivation to exercise might be to lose weight, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, achieve a ‘summer beach body’, or to win a competition to receive a trophy.

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How to stay motivated and keep on track

Finding motivation is one thing, maintaining that motivation is another. Here are some tips on how to stay motivated:

  • Set measurable and attainable goals, make them part of your routine by using a diary or app for reminders. Regularly review your goals and progress, seeing progress can improve your self-esteem. Tackle one goal at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
  • Positive self-talk is important and effective in managing depression or anxiety. Instead of saying ‘I can’t’, say ‘I can try’. Surround yourself with positive people. Positive friends and family enhance your positive self-talk, which also helps to manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Mindfulness helps keep you relaxed and focused.
  • Start a class or join a support group.
  • Reward yourself when you have completed a step or goal.
  • Keep the momentum up. It takes up to 3 months to develop a new habit, so keeping the momentum and routine helps it feel more automatic over time.
  • Use exercise as one of your daily goals to improve your mental health (, 2018).

When balanced, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can help you make time for exercise. Finding motivation can be difficult, particularly for those suffering from mental health issues, however with the right support and forms of exercise that interest you, it is achievable to not only find but maintain motivation for exercise, keep on track with goals, and enhance your wellbeing.

Find your motivation to move with Transcend Health

Our classes cover a broad range of movement and exercise disciplines, from weight training and aerobic exercise to gymnastics, martial arts and dance to yoga and pilates. You can find a form of exercise that interests you! We welcome all levels of fitness, from beginners to athletes. Transcend Health is a supportive community, and we encourage you to come along and check it out! Contact us to learn more about how we can help you find and maintain motivation to exercise.

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