What’s Motivating You?
What motivates you to exercise? To look good? Or rather, to feel good? Has that source of motivation changed as you progressed through your fitness journey? Although any source of motivation can get you to start exercising, long-term commitment to a healthier lifestyle requires you to dig deeper.
Feeling Good vs. Looking Good
Most people start working out because of an extrinsic motivation. They want to lose weight, get ready for a special event, or fit into an outfit they have been eyeing. Basically, people start to exercise to look good. Even though that is perfectly understandable, it is not enough. The problem with extrinsic motivation is that the results are much more delayed. You don’t necessarily know how long it will take to reach that target weight or get that “summer body”, or, if we are talking about day to day progress, if it is even working. Therefore this motivation tends to wear out over time and you will have trouble sticking to your exercise routine.
On the other hand, intrinsic motivation is much more personal and the results are often more immediate. This is all about how you feel during and post-workout. It could be the lower stress level, reduced anxiety, and depression, or higher confidence that follows a workout session. Or it can be that sense of accomplishment when you are able to run further than you did last time or how you now have extra energy to do your other daily activities with ease. When you exercise, you feel good both physically and mentally. This can take some time to develop but it is essential in keeping you on track long-term.
The Science Behind Why Exercise Makes Us Feel Good
Most of us understand the link between exercise and physical health but it is not so clear when it comes to mental and emotional health. You might have heard that exercise helps your body release endorphins. Endorphins work to reduce your perception of pain and are released to minimize the discomfort of exercise. The positive side effects of endorphins include a feeling of euphoria and reduced stress levels.
Your brain also flags exercise as a moment of stress (due to your elevated heart rate), in order to protect you, your brain releases a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) that protects and repairs your memory neurons. The results? You feel at ease and even happy after a workout session. With those with mild to moderate depression, exercise can be especially useful.
How to Maintain that Motivation
- Remind yourself why you work out. Clearly define why exercise is important to you and how it makes you feel and come back to it anytime you need motivation.
- Prepare in advance. Book your classes in advance or lay out your workout clothes the night before so you have no excuses.
- Experiment. Trying out a variety of new exercises not only allows you to find something you love but helps you spice up your routine even if you are an experienced fitness person.
- Find a workout partner or try group workout classes. A sense of teamwork and shared accomplishments is a great source of motivation.
- Focus on simply moving your body. On days you are really dreading doing something, take it easy on yourself and instead opt for a 10-minute jog or a quick at-home stretching routine.
Here at Velocity, our philosophy is to create an inclusive atmosphere where our clients can have an intense physical workout but also a mental release. We encourage you to look within and use intrinsic motivations to develop a consistent exercise routine. You will see positive changes in all aspects of your life and “looking good” will just be an added bonus!