Exercise Motivation

We all have our own reasons to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But have you ever stopped to think about where your exercise motivation comes from? According to research by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci of the University of Rochester people are motivated because they value an activity or because there is strong external coercion. They are motivated from a sense of personal commitment to excel or from fear of being judged by others. In terms of exercise motivation we all have something that inspires us to workout or to keep us from being sedentary. It is imperative to know what your self-determination motivations are to be fit. If you are working out to make someone else happy you may not truly get all the benefits of being active. With the obesity epidemic on the rise in the U.S. it is important to address why some people are not exercising and why many have lost their motivation to be active. By uncovering our true motivations for physical exercise we can make honest assessments about our health and make smart choices for our exercise and fitness plans.

Understand What Motivates You

Some motivations to exercise may be to improve your health your relationship with friends and family personal satisfaction weight loss/maintenance or to improve your appearance. Fitness and exercise expert Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico explains that self perception is a primary motivator:

Self-perception plays a major role in whether people will start exercising and it may stop some individuals from beginning a program even if exercise has been recommended for medical reasons. In fact some people may view themselves as incompetent without even trying to exercise. Fortunately these inhibiting self- perceptions are modifiable especially with social support and encouragement from others.

Some reasons for not exercising may be time money discomfort embarrassment or just plain laziness. If you fall into any of these categories do not worry there is hope!

When it comes to exercise motivation you may fall into one or more of three designated categories:

Extrinsically Motivated

If you are extrinsically motivated  you are driven to conform to what those around you want. You may workout only to please friends or family members. Your exercise motivation comes from an outside force. For example you may workout to lower your blood pressure to avoid a scolding from your doctor.

Intrinsically Motivated

If you are intrinsically motivated the drive to exercise comes from within. You want to workout because you feel good like the results you see when you look in the mirror and you want to make personal improvements in your life.


If you are amotivated you are non-self-determined. You will simply go through the motions without enjoying the rewards and benefits of physical activity.
After reading about the three motivational categories do you think you know where you fall? Are you motivated to exercise for the right reasons?

If you are exercising for your own personal benefits you are more likely to adhere to an exercise program and make it a routine part of your lifestyle. If you are working out to appease others you are more likely to fall out of your exercise routine. This is why it is important to find out WHY YOU are working out. Remember the best kind of motivation comes from within. You should never do anything in life solely to please others.

Whether you are a motivated competitive athlete or just trying to get your fitness routine started there are always things you can do to help keep yourself motivated to exercise. For example many people find that they maintain higher exercise motivation when they change up their workout routine regularly. Finding what works to keep yourself motivated will help you overcome the  inconvenience to get to the gym as often as you should on a weekly basis. Proper exercise motivation will overcome the occasional fatigue and the temptation to allow yourself to be distracted by the demands and pressures of everyday life. The steps you take now to create and maintain genuine exercise motivation will be very beneficial and visible to your health in your future.

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