Motivation to exercise

The top 3 ways to spark your desire to get moving.

In this modern era, our health and well being depend on our motivation to exercise.  Our lifestyles have evolved so much that exercise is no longer necessary for work or play.  Movement must be chosen.

What triggers your motivation to exercise?  If you’re like most of us, you want to look great, feel healthy and be strong.  The problem is that the work needed to get there conflicts with the inactive lifestyle we are comfortable with.  There are few shortcuts when it comes to being healthy.  Success will require a change in your daily routine.  With a healthy motivation to exercise, you will put in the effort and be rewarded with the great looking, healthy physique you want and need. 

#1 Looking great

It’s no secret.   ‘Perfect’ looking models with their trim abs and ripped arms entice many of us to try the latest fitness programs.  Why is it then, that most people quit these programs and fail to achieve the promised results?   We all want to look great, and consistent effort is proven to get the job done.  How do we keep losing our motivation to exercise?   

Part of the problem is our unrealistic expectations.   We set our sights on extreme body types portrayed in today’s media.  We think that one workout program is going to give us the same physique as a person who devotes much of their life to exercise and a very disciplined diet.   There is a healthy alternative to today’s huge, ripped male and thin, impossibly tall female. 

I think we can agree that world renowned master artists had an eye for beauty in the human form.  Classical physiques in art look beautiful and fit, and yet their body types are still attainable for most people.   Does Michelangelo’s David sculpture need more muscle mass in his chest and arms to look good?  Does Venus need to lose 10-15 pounds to look her best?   Admiring these works can inspire you to be more healthy without feeling pressure to go to extremes with your diet or exercise routine.  

When it comes to your own body, don’t worry about the magazine covers.  If you need a model for your appearance, look to the healthy body types that have been considered beautiful for millennia.   Browse sculptures and paintings for healthy looking bodies and you’ll find a good range of body types as well.    The example photos above account for genetic differences and the various exercises we prefer, from a person who likes hiking and rock climbing to someone who enjoys bodybuilding with weights.  

To get a more scientific perspective on body weight and body image, try my recommended body composition tests.  See if your weight and waist measurements line up with healthy norms for your height and gender.  The pictures above, by the way, all represent body types that would fit within a proven healthy weight category.

While there are a number obvious false claims in the health and fitness industry about instant change in your physique, there is a way you can make a more immediate improvement in your first impressions.   Pay more attention to the way you carry yourself.  Standing tall and upright will make you look much better right away.  Try it out in the mirror.  If you’d like training in perfecting your posture, see my book, Correct Posture.

#2  Feeling young and healthy

Aging is a part of life, and most of us want to do what we can to slow down the process.  There’s a reason for the saying, ‘Age is not a number.’  I’m sure you’ve noticed 80 year olds that are more physically fit than many 60 year olds, and 40 somethings who are stronger and faster than teenagers.  

How does a teenager become slower than a 45 year old?  It starts with choosing pizza, soda and the internet over hiking and the produce isle.  Accelerated aging comes from your daily habits.    As you gain weight and lose your conditioning, you are much more likely to complain of aches and pains.  You’ll feel less mentally sharp, with less energy for life in general.  When these things happen, you are losing your personal effectiveness, which we often equate with ‘getting old’.  

Getting older is inevitable, but getting old is not.  Consistent effort helps you maintain the vitality of a young adult even beyond the middle age years.   How would it feel to hear that someone genuinely thought you were 10 years younger than you really are?  How would it feel to know that you can ‘keep up’ with your kids or the younger players on the soccer field?  These are attainable goals if you are willing to put in the necessary work every day.    Hang on to your motivation to exercise, and your daily habits will build momentum for your health, like a snowball rolling downhill.  

#3  Being strong

While strength means different things to different people, I’m equating “being strong” to any physical abilities that you want for yourself.  What would you like to do that you can’t do today?  What do you want to be able to do more easily? To help spark your motivation to exercise, I recommend making a list of goals. Create some goals that you could realistically achieve in a couple months and include some long term goals for inspiration. Below are some examples to get you started. 

  • Become flexible enough to sit on the floor comfortably and play with your kids.
  • Develop your strength and mobility so you can squat down and pick up a box with ease.
  • Improve your fitness so you can climb 3 flights of stairs at your office without getting winded.
  • Master the skills you need to join your friends for beach volleyball. 
  • Build up the strength for 3 pull ups or 25 push ups.
  • Develop enough endurance to go on a weekend hiking trip. 
  • Become fit enough to compete in an upcoming 5K race. 
  • Hold a handstand for 10 seconds. 

For more goal setting ideas, see my article on the definition of physical fitness.  Also, if you’d like to include more objective, science-based goals to your list, try my recommended physical fitness tests.

Related articles

Reasons to exercise

When did you stop exercising like you used to?  Consistent exercise (and healthy eating) gives you the best chance for better health, more productive living, and a longer life.  

Benefits of aerobic exercise

The benefits of aerobic exercise come from positive changes in your heart, blood vessels, muscle cells, lungs and nervous system. Cardio training makes you able to work at a higher intensity with less effort.  Current research even shows a major impact on brain functioning!

Benefits of physical fitness
Personal health and fitness directly relates to your quality of life, affecting your decisions, activities, opportunities, and more. Compare the effects of active and inactive lifestyles.  TV time has a greater impact than you might expect.

Definition of physical fitness
Are you able to get your work done without a sense of strain or fatigue? Physical fitness also has to do with how well your body works for you in everyday life. See how you measure up to this standard of well-being.

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