What’s your passion?
Some people love cooking more than anything. Others pour their hearts into their careers, their art, their children, or charity work. For so many people, exercise is anything but a passion. It’s a chore. If you are struggling with motivation to exercise, you don’t have to feel stuck. Passions aren’t always something you are born to. They can be learned. In fact, gaining a love of exercise is no different than learning to cook or paint.
We spoke with Holly Beach, MD, a primary care sports medicine specialist at Banner – University Medical Center South in Tucson, Arizona. She noted that people of all fitness levels can have a hard time finding the drive. “It affects everyone,” she said. “Even the most elite athletes struggle to motivate themselves from time to time. The important thing is to not beat yourself up over it. Take a little time and then revisit your reasons for exercising and get back on track.”
Like anything, exercise starts with your mentality. No matter your experience, these tips can help you change your mindset about exercise.
1. You Don’t Have to Do It Alone
Self-motivation is a difficult thing to grasp even when the activity is something you love. Exercising with friends or family can be a great way to get started. As you set goals, share them with each other and try to hold each other accountable. For many people, exercise is just another way to spend time with the people you love. Set a weekly hiking schedule with your family or sign up for a city-league sport with your friend. The more the merrier.
2. Get the Tech You Need
Everything we own has a chip in it these days, from the smart fridge in our kitchen to the self-driving car in our garage. We love tech. The fitness world is filled with tech-infused devices, built to measure every possible metric. In fact, tech has made exercise more fun than ever. Modern treadmills and stationary bikes like Peloton now sport giant screens that transport your workout to the beaches of Hawaii or a high-energy class at the gym. Hikers and mountain bikers can connect and even compete with each other using apps like Strava. If you’re the kind of person that gets a new smartphone every year, try adding some tech to your workout.
3. Take Your Time
When you learned to paint, was every brush stroke better than the last? Of course not. Learning a new thing takes time and patience. Your skill and motivation will ebb and flow, and you’ll make mistakes that could force you to sit a few days out. Don’t be disappointed in yourself if learning to love exercise takes longer than you expect. Creating a new passion doesn’t always happen on your first try.
4. Try Something New. Then Try Again.
We all have that friend who just loves to run. For them, they’ve never felt freer and happier than when they’re jogging the city path. But no matter how many times we lace up, it just hurts. Not everyone is going to enjoy the same sport. Get creative in your search for fitness and remember that exercise can be really fun. Borrow a pair of cross-country skis, sign up for a boxing class, kick the soccer ball with your kids, enroll your dog in an agility class, buy a used pair of roller blades… There’s no limit to how many new sports you can try. When you find the right sport (or sports!) for you, it’ll click. Just like your friend found running.
5. Enjoy Your Rest Days, Guilt Free
Burnout is an extremely common demotivator. Even if you’ve found a form of exercise that you love, it’s healthy to take the occasional break. Rest days give your body a chance to recover and reduce your risk of injury. Enjoy them! It’s ok to relax on the couch, sleep in a bit or binge watch that new show. You’ve earned your rest days. This is part of the process.
6. Find Your Why
This is the most important one. “It works best when the motivation comes from within,” said Dr. Beach. “For some who have been encouraged to exercise by a loved one or doctor, this form of external motivation may not be enough. Make it personal. Search for your own drive.” The source of your passion can be anything, whether it’s losing weight, competition, love of the sport, reducing stress, or spending time with your kids. Your “why” is what will get you out of bed and into your workout gear.
Exercise is a lifelong endeavor. If you are starting down this path for the first time, you may enjoy these articles.