Do You Make This Common Mistake When Trying to Motivate Yourself to Work Out?

By Dr. Mercola

For some people, sticking with a weekly workout program can be challenging. Despite understanding the benefits to overall health and contributions to physical, mental and emotional heath, workouts don’t come easy.

Conventional wisdom doesn’t help when you’re trying to figure out how to become a person who wants their workout more than an extra hour of sleep or lunch with friends. It’s difficult to place enough value on the desire to look better or be more active when you anticipate your workout will be miserable.

Parents have the added challenge of finding care for children, or having enough energy after caring for others to spend time on themselves. Dominique Wakefield, personal trainer and wellness coach from Berrien Springs, Michigan, says:1

“Parents typically don’t get enough sleep and spend their days constantly responding to needs of another human being. That combination is emotionally and physically draining, which leads to less motivation for physical activity.”

Who Is Working Out?

Unfortunately, the number of people who are sitting on the couch, as opposed to getting exercise each day, is rising instead of decreasing. As school systems cut budgets and physical education classes are eliminated, more children are also participating in less exercise each day.

In 1999, 33 percent of children engaged in physical activity every day.2 By 2012 that number had declined to 25 percent.3

Data from the combined National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey also found that as weight increased, the amount of time spent in physical activity decreased in boys.4

According to data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), researchers found that approximately 33 percent of adults who had seen a health care provider in the previous 12 months had been advised to begin or continue an exercise program.5

In 2013 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that just slightly over 20 percent of American adults were meeting aerobic and muscle strengthening guidelines.6

Even though many of the benefits of exercise have been well publicized, it remains challenging for many people to achieve the minimum recommendations for exercise each week.

According to the Stress in America study done by the American Psychological Association (APA) completed and published in 2013, only 17 percent of people reported exercising daily.7

However, having once exercised, 53 percent of people said they felt good about themselves after working out, 30 percent experienced less stress and 35 percent said they were in a good mood after exercising.

The survey found that millennials were more likely than people of other generations to recognize the positive benefits of exercise and to exercise weekly.8 However, many reported skipping exercise because of stress in greater numbers than gen Xers, baby boomers or matures.

The Problem You May Have With Motivation to Exercise

This information speaks directly to the problems that many experience with their motivation to exercise daily. You have a firm grasp on the extrinsic value of exercise. When you engage in physical movement each day you reduce your potential risk to experience:

Cardiovascular disease Metabolic disease Alzheimer’s disease
Dementia Type 2 diabetes Depression
Stress Some cancers Osteoporosis
Cognitive decline Hypertension Arthritis

This is not an exhaustive list of the health conditions you may avoid if you exercise regularly, but rather just some of the conditions affected by inactivity. The links between exercise and these conditions have been covered by the media and on this site.

However, it is usually not the knowledge of what could happen if you don’t exercise that will motivate you to move. Knowledge of the benefits of exercise, including a fit and toned body, better mood, improved creativity and productivity and slowing the aging process, also don’t appear to improve your motivation to exercise.

Each of these are extrinsic factors, or factors that exist outside of who you are and what you might immediately experience. Psychologists have found that many of the excuses for not exercising center around the discomfort you anticipate from the activity.

Theories of behavior have demonstrated that your immediate experience will often overshadow any future anticipated reward.9 In other words, you’ll find it difficult to do something uncomfortable if the reward you earn is something you’ll experience later.

Some of the common excuses for not donning workout gear and heading to the gym or the running trail are:

Sweating Being too hot or cold Being out of breath
Sore muscles Getting wet in the rain Getting out of bed when it’s dark
Getting dirty Working out in front of people Feeling out of shape when exercising
Don’t know how to exercise and don’t want to ask Don’t like feeling uncomfortable while exercising Not enough time in the day to exercise
Too tired to exercise Exercise is boring Tried it before and didn’t like it
Don’t have the energy to exercise Exercise is expensive Scared of getting hurt
Don’t have anyone to exercise with Current physical condition makes it difficult to exercise Too overwhelming to think about starting an exercise program

The Fix Is In

Since the problem with motivation is that most extrinsic factors are not strong enough to motivate you to exercise daily, then another strategy must be used so you can experience benefits to your physical, emotional and mental health. Dan Ariely, Ph.D., professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, clarifies what you need to start and continue working out.10

In Ariely’s many studies on the effect of motivation and performance in the workplace, his work demonstrates that in both recreational and work situations, you are more motivated by intrinsic value of what you’re creating than the extrinsic benefits you may experience. Most people anticipate how bad the workout will be, and most focus on external reasons to exercise — such as better health, toned body and slowed aging process.11

In other words, the hardest part about starting is getting started. The planning process of exercise may include anticipation of how you might feel, what you may experience and how much you don’t want to do it. Planning out an exercise calendar may therefore leave you with negative feelings.

However, in the moment, exercise boosts your mood and increases the release of hormones that boost your mood, emotions and increase your motivation. A recent study from the University of Chicago demonstrates similar results.12 During exercise, people placed greater value on their internal feelings rather than the benefits they may experience later. During an activity, participants cared more about the current activity than about past or future work.

These researchers theorized that intrinsic incentives improved experience during an action, as opposed to external incentives that held the same value both during and after an activity. Ariely believes the mistake being made is that value is being placed on extrinsic incentives, like your health and fitness goals, instead of on the immediate experience of having fun during exercise.

Putting exercise on your daily “to-do list” and just doing it is an important way of experiencing the immediate mental and emotional boost you’ll achieve. These memories of feeling good and having fun will go a long way toward increasing your motivation to continue working out.

Motivation Basics

In this 20-minute video, Ariely discusses the science behind motivation in the workplace, which centers around the intrinsic value of what you’re doing and not the payment you’ll receive for the task. The same concepts can be used when developing a motivational plan for your exercise, as your extrinsic factors are improved health, and intrinsic incentives are immediately experienced during exercise.

In the last minute of the video, Ariely identifies some of the factors that specifically increase your motivation, such as finding meaning from the activity, experiencing a challenge to your abilities, taking ownership of the action and embracing the action as part of your identity.

Michael Otto, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Boston University, discusses using exercise with his patients as it improves mood and increases success with treatment. He says:13

“Exercise is something that psychologists have been very slow to attend to. People know that exercise helps physical outcomes. There is much less awareness of mental health outcomes — and much, much less ability to translate this awareness into exercise action. The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong. Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.”

It may be difficult to take advantage of the intrinsic incentive to exercise if you are challenging your body at a level greater than you are able to comfortably work out. When you exercise above your respiratory threshold, or the point at which it becomes difficult to talk, your immediate mood boost is delayed by approximately 30 minutes. If you are new to exercise or trying to start a new program, the lack of immediate incentive may be enough to turn you off.

Otto also cautions that keeping your attention on the outcome of a fitness program is a recipe for failure.14 Instead, by exercising to meet your current physical abilities you’ll experience a near-instant gratification and increase your motivation to continue the program. Otto continues:15

“Many people skip the workout at the very time it has the greatest payoff. That prevents you from noticing just how much better you feel when you exercise. Failing to exercise when you feel bad is like explicitly not taking an aspirin when your head hurts. That’s the time you get the payoff.”

Use These Strategies to Improve Your Success

As your first step, Ariely recommends putting exercise on your calendar and just do it. Exercising provides an intrinsic incentive to keep working out and the memory of the positive feedback helps motivate you to exercise the next time.

However, it is impossible to stay 100 percent motivated all the time. Your motivation ebbs and flows throughout your day and week. This is normal. There are several strategies you can use to help motivate you in the short term, so you’ll experience the long-term results and increased motivation from feeling great.

Motivational music, video, books

Inspirational stories, music and writing can spike your short-term desire and motivation to exercise. Many people find it motivating to listen to music while exercising as it helps to boost mood and distract your mind.


Whether you find a workout partner, keep a workout journal or participate in an online group community, knowing there is someone to whom you are accountable may be enough to get you started. Try joining a class or group; sometimes knowing you’ll waste money if you don’t go will be enough to get you to class.

Think positively about your workout

Much of the lack of motivation for working out often comes from the anticipation the activity will be difficult, boring or painful. Change the way you think about the activity and you’ll notice positive changes in your outlook. It may be necessary to change the activity you’re using to engage you both physically and mentally. If you’re having trouble remembering to think positively about your workout, put sticky notes around to remind you of the positive reasons you’re working out.

Work out within your limits

When your physical activity overtakes your respiratory threshold, you’ll no longer find the activity enjoyable and you’ll delay those feel good hormones by at least 30 minutes. You aren’t training for the Olympics. Instead, find an activity you enjoy, that keeps you breathing more rapidly than when you’re sitting, but not so much you can’t talk to your workout partner.

Alter your environment

Changing your environment may increase the likelihood you’ll exercise. Keep any equipment out so it’s a visible reminder. Put on your workout clothes in anticipation of working out — it may be the impetus you need to get out the door. Try working out first thing in the morning, before you come up with excuses. Remember to eat well and stay hydrated. It’s difficult to be motivated to work out when your body isn’t ready to perform.

Anti Aging Benefits You Get From Exercising

Anti aging can benefit from exercising, physical exercise keeps us able and healthy. All the same, exercising does more to keep our body in good physical shape. It acts in many ways to delay or mitigate some of the physical, mental and emotional effects of aging. Along the way, it helps us look and feel younger as well!

Ointments, lotions, moisturizers and other beauty products put on to the skin may feel good, but they only work on the ‘outside’. Exercising helps defy the aging signs from the inside out.

Sharper mental capacity

There is scientific evidence that proves aerobic workouts does improve memory retentiveness and mentalities. Walking for at least 30 minutes a day, four times per week, can greatly improve blood circulation to the brain. This then allows for more oxygen to the brain, which in turn prevents beta-amyloid plaques from building up, thus helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Therefore diddling mentally-stimulating games such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku and others is absolutely not the only way to keep your brain sharp. Physical exercise will benefit anti aging as well!

More younger looking skin

Working out at the least three times a week has been demonstrated to reverse the obvious marks of aging, so our body looks younger. It is not only those in middle-age who will benefit from exercising but the same is true for individuals in their elder years who on a regular basis follow their exercise regimen.

The portion of the skin referred to as stratum corneum is among those areas that is benefited the most by regular workout. Experts say that exercising preserves the health of the skin’s stratum corneum and may even reverse its signs of aging. The stratum corneum is the part of the skin which readily reveals aging effects as it sags, wrinkles, droops and thickens due to decreased elasticity and dying cells that of course come with aging.

Rejuvenated balance

As we age, we become more prostrate to falls and more susceptible to fractures when we do. Even so, regular workout can help cut down the risk of falling. study show that one in every three adults aged 65 and older fall every year.

Falls can leave to fractures, tissue and organ injuries and even dying. One of the better exercises for improving balance is Tai Chi. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that Tai-Chi was good in helping individuals from falls while their mental health was also improved.

Stronger bones

Anti aging can benefit from weight bearing workouts, it will stimulate new bone tissues to build thereby making the bones as well as the muscles stronger. The good news is that you do not have to be an athlete in order to accomplish these anti aging benefits. Weight bearing drills are easy to do and can be performed just about anywhere.

Examples of anti aging workouts include climbing up stairs, jogging, running, walk, tennis, dancing, biking and more. If you have kids or a teenagers in your family, encourage them to do these exercising with you.

Besides encouraging them to exercise with you, this will help to “future-proof” the youngsters from weak bones. This is because the greatest gains in bone mass can be achieved during or before and during pubescence. They need to have as much bone mass as they can while they are still in their youth to ensure they have greater bone mass as they get older.

Don’t let old age dishearten you, as bone density and strength can be regenerated at any age.

5 Surprising Gains of Exercise

When people are inquired about the benefits of workout, a lot of like they all have the very same response saying that workout is for you to be fit. We give to you several of these remarkable we can get from working out.
When people are asked about the advantages of workout, a lot of like they all have the exact same response claiming that workout is for you to be fit. All of us have that notion that workout is only done for the function of obtaining fit as well as maintaining that mean and sexy figures. Nonetheless, there are plenty of impressive advantages that exercise consider that might alter your understanding concerning workout. We provide to you a few of these incredible we could gain from exercising.

1. Exercise is also helpful for your brain.

It is backed by various research studies that work out helps in reducing anxiety, increase discovering ability as well as establishes a much better memory. Research studies also suggest that workout can assist avoid Alzheimer’s illness. Although it has not been known exactly just how exercise does transform the function as well as structure of the brain but currently it is something on active study. By far, they have actually found out that exercising could boost blood circulation to the brain while offering the growth of the new blood vessels, brand-new mind cells as well as of Brain-Derived Neurotropic Element (BDNF). The BDNF can cause the development of the new neurons and also assists shield and also repair mind cells from degeneration.

2. Reduce depression

Many researches have revealed that exercising could help reduce depression. Exercise really activates the release of dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and also norepinephrine. These chemicals are understood to lighten the mood, relieve stress and even plain discomfort.

3. All-natural Anti-aging factor

Workout studies have actually shown that it can aid extend lifespan by about 5 years and may decrease the aging of our cells. As we grow older, our cells split their telomeres repetitively. Telomeres are safety caps of the chromosomes. In order to see exactly how exercising affects telomeres, some scientists made a muscle biopsy and took blood examples from 10 random people prior to as well as after they performed a 45-minute ride on a stable bike. Researchers figured out that exercise enhanced the level of a molecule that aids shield telomeres, effectively demonstrating how suddenly they reduce over the time. Workout then appears to reduce the aging at a mobile level.

4. Great for your skin

Workout could enhance the blood flow to the skin as it delivers oxygen and also essential nutrients that aid enhance the skin and even heal injuries quicker – making your skin much healthier, young-looking and also radiant.

5. Shrink your fats away

Our body uses both fats and carbohydrates as its resource of energy. But as you obtain used to working out, your body gets better at shedding fat, which after that requires a whole lot even more of oxygen to transform to energy. One more gain from workout is that the cardio system will certainly get stronger as well as much better in providing oxygen, so we have the ability to metabolize a whole lot even more of our fats and also utilize it as our energy resource. As a benefitHealth Health and fitness Articles, fat cells which produce chemicals for persistent low-grade swelling will reduce therefore is swelling too.

Eat healthy Live Long

To accomplish a healthier status and preserve weight diet must combine with exercise, since one without the other will not work. The body and mind is intricate, however both work together to manufacture results. Many experts, including theorists, doctors, scientist, and philosophers are continuing to find answers to the body’s functions.

Beauty, health, and nutrition are all included. If you eat a balanced diet you will be able to continue your physique and glowing beauty externally and good health inside. A balanced diet is one that provides all the nutrients you need, the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and fat.

To achieve goals you need to ensure a good balance in your diet, set up variety into your meal, and practice moderation. The basis of nutrition lies in your height, weight, size, and your daily energy needs. Once you know this you can compute what your daily calorific needs are and set goals for weight maintenance, gain, or loss. By regulating your diet you can be active as well as happy.

Eat plenty of whole fruits, grains, and vegetables. They will supply you with essential vitamins, minerals, and protection from several diseases.

Map to exercise every day. Either walk or take up aerobics, dancercise, or join a gym for the fitness. Exercise will not just burn calories but put a glow into your skin; your body will shine, tone your muscles, and strengthen your bones. Exercises also remove accumulated toxins from your body and make you fit.

Create a time-table for your meals. Never fast, starve yourself, or skip a meal. Eat when your body demands nourishment but not huge quantity.