How do we change the way we feel about exercising?

By Debbie

There are so many positive reasons to exercise! But this doesn't necessarily translate into the motivation you need to slip on a pair of running shoes and do a fitness class or go for an early morning walk or run.

Part of the reason is that many of us view exercise as a means to an end. We might do it to get healthier or to get ready for the beach or a holiday. Neither of those goals will necessarily result in us actually enjoying exercise. We'll likely force ourselves out the door to try and meet our lofty goals, while cursing the fact that we are having to do so.

How to get motivated

The people who stay motivated to exercise long-term, are those that actually enjoy it. Keen exercisers know the immediate rush you get from completing a good exercise session. Those not so keen wonder how anyone could ever enjoy it.

It's worth recognising that there are things you might have once detested and which you now enjoy. Conversely, there are probably things you once enjoyed which you now detest with a vengeance. The crucial thing to recognise is that our emotions are transient and we can influence how we feel about something. The first step is self-awareness.

Your subconscious brain (the part that influences whether you enjoy something or not) is heavily influenced by instant gratification: Things that provide an instant reward, such as boosting your mood, lowering your anxiety or maybe increasing your creativity or productivity.

Some research suggests that long-term goals actually undermine our enjoyment of what we are doing in that moment. I'll put that one out there for you to have a think about and consider whether this is true for you or not. Personally, I quite like a long term goal!

A more mindful approach to fitness

When it comes to exercise, can you adopt a more mindful approach? What is your ‘internal narrative’ (that internal chatter or ‘self-talk’ that takes place in our heads all the time) around exercise? Does it feel like a chore?

Your subconscious beliefs will influence your energy and, consequently, your motivation to stick with something, especially as the cold, long nights draw in. An easy way to identify your underlying beliefs, is checking the language in your own self talk. Do you find yourself saying "I have to"; "I must"; or "I should" instead of "I can't wait"; I want to"; or "I am looking forward to"?

If you currently dislike exercise, (or a particular exercise style!) I’m not suggesting that you’ll suddenly love it overnight. However, if you adopt a more mindful approach to the words you use when you think and talk to yourself about exercise, and pay more attention to what you enjoy about exercise, you might find that both your feelings and your motivation will increase over time.

Have fun and mix it up!

This is not about going head first into a rigid exercise routine. Mix it up. Have fun with exercising. Take time out throughout your day (yes, that may mean taking an actual lunch break) to soak up the natural daylight, which will also positively influence your circadian rhythm, which may also help improve your sleep. You’ll start to feel better straight way, I promise!


This blog is a result of my conversations with clients in 1:1 coaching sessions, and also participants on my regular 28-day-courses. I regularly help women and men of all shapes, ages and sizes define their personal fitness goals and build and maintain a healthier lifestyle. To find out more or sign up, just get in touch! debbie@healthilytoned.com and 07780 664451. 

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