Exercise benefits us physically and mentally- mind, body, and soul. But that is not always enough to get us leaping out of bed to sweat. Getting up and getting it done can be hard work, especially when we are tired and feeling uninspired.
So, if you are struggling to kickstart your motivation, here are 6 tips to break down those mindset barriers and mentally prepare you for exercising.
WHY IS EXERCISE IMPORTANT?
Exercise, particularly in recent times, remains incredibly important for our health.
We tend to associate exercising with physical benefits- weight loss, improved fitness, bigger muscles, better endurance. But exercising substantially improves mental health too! Moving our bodies is proven to elevate low mood, decrease symptoms of depression, and reduce cortisol (stress) levels.  What is more, when we exercise we release ‘happy hormones’ called endorphins!
WHY DO WE LACK THE MOTIVATION TO EXERCISE
There are plenty of reasons why exercise might feel overwhelming.
Whether you are recovering from injury or illness, just starting out on your exercise journey, or just feeling a little bored, here are-
6 TIPS TO BOOST YOUR MOTIVATION
- FIND YOUR ‘WHY?’
Often a lack of motivation comes from not having a clear understanding of what we want from our workouts. It is time to really ask yourself why you want to exercise. Do you want to lose weight? Build muscle? Hit a PB?
Whatever the reason, you will be better equipped if you have set an intention.
- GOAL SET
Once you have found your ‘why’, goal-setting is a great way to stay focused and on track. Goal setting helps us stay accountable and engaged, which helps us push through when we are running on an emotionally empty tank.
SMART GOALS are a great starting point!
Goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-focused, often get the best results.Remember to adjust your goals once you notice progression; this will help you to avoid the dreaded plateau!
- DISCOVER YOUR PASSION
If you are working towards a specific sport or fitness-related goal, you might require more rigidity with your training. However, if your goal is more flexible, make sure you choose exercise that you enjoy. We feel far more motivated to exercise when we are not dreading a workout.
Try to choose things that make you feel excited to move or share your journey with others, if you enjoy exercise as a social tool.
And if you are not feeling it?
Remember, you are allowed to move the goalposts.Variety breeds consistency, consistency breeds good habits, and good habits breed results!
- IDENTIFY AND REMOVE EXERCISE BARRIERS
As Benjamin Franklin said-
‘By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail!’
Try to identify and remove any obstacles early on, so that when things feel hard you are less likely to give up. It might mean planning classes in advance or carving out time during your lunch hour, but the hassle is worth the rewards!
Science tells us that it usually takes around 66 days to break old habits and form new ones in their place.
Be patient when obstacles appear!
- START SMALL
James Clear, who authored the book Atomic Habits, is a champion of small, sustainable change. He believes small changes lead to the biggest results!
Implementing small changes into your routine can banish feelings of overwhelm and help you adapt more easily. Once you have adapted to one change, you can then begin to build and layer.
- REST AND RECOVER
There is a lot of societal pressure to over-achieve, but sometimes less is more. Ensure you implement rest and recovery so that you can catch up on sleep and avoid overtraining and injury. During deep sleep, our body goes through recovery, repair, and growth.This is when hormones such as melatonin and our growth hormone are released to help regulate our immune system and aid muscle repair, respectively.
While you can simplify the process of tapping into motivation, it will always be a process to work on! But finding your stride is extremely rewarding and can build sustainable lifelong habits! Exercise does not have to be a struggle, even when it feels the most challenging. Give these 6 tips a try and watch your motivation soar!
 Kathleen Mikkelsen, Lily Stojanovska, Momir Polenakovic, Marijan Bosevski, Vasso Apostolopoulos,, Exercise and mental health,Maturitas, Volume 106, 2017, Pages 48-56, ISSN 0378-5122,
 Doherty R, Madigan S, Warrington G, Ellis J. Sleep and Nutrition Interactions: Implications for Athletes. Nutrients. 2019;11(4):822. Published 2019 Apr 11. doi:10.3390/nu11040822