Everyone experiences a lack of motivation to workout including athletes, fitness models, and bodybuilders. It’s especially difficult for people who are feeling depressed since symptoms of depression can include fatigue and a lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. Many people feel like they are too stressed or too time limited to work-out, and ironically, those are the individuals that need exercise the most to be more effective in their careers and to decrease levels of stress.
There are numerous benefits of exercise on the mind. Studies show that exercise helps with short-term and long-term memory. Exercise can also slow mental decline in older adults. Additionally, we know from research that “feel good” chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin are released in the brain when you exercise. Your mood is significantly lifted when you work-out. In fact, in the UK, exercise is the first line of treatment for depression. Self-esteem and body image can also improve significantly with regular exercise.
We’ve always known that feel-good chemicals are released in the brain when we workout. However, now we know that new dopamine receptors in the brain are actually formed when people consistently exercise. This is an amazing find because there’s an added boost when you work-out regularly making it even more rewarding when you are exercising regularly (whether it’s twice or six times a week). As a result, exercise becomes a self-reinforcing behavior.
So what are ways right now that you can become motivated to exercise?
- Visualize (also known as mental rehearsal) Sport psychologists recommend visualization and athletes use visualization for performance enhancement. Visualization is extremely powerful. The evening before your workout, take 10 minutes to visualize your entire session. Imagine yourself getting up, exercising, and use all five senses to feel what it’s like to go through the routine and feel energized afterwards.
- Write down your goal! Maybe you want to look great for an event or you want to get down to a certain size. It’s been proven that people who write their goals down are more successful at actually achieving their goals.
- Have Fun People sometimes forget how important it is to have fun with their workouts and having fun is intrinsically motivating which is important for actually repeating the behavior. A study shows that if you’re not having fun and you see your workout as work, you’re more inclined to snack. I suggest taking a new adventure like kayaking or signing up for Dance classes or picking up a sport you used to love or have always wanted to try. Enjoying your workout improves the likelihood that you will be motivated long-term.
- Shop Research shows that what you wear affects your performance whether it’s at work or during a workout. One researcher coined the term “enclothed cognition”. Enclothed cognition says that what you wear affects your performance. Dress like an athlete or a fitness trainer. It’s surprising how much shopping can actually improve your exercise performance
- Reward Yourself Positive reinforcement is a necessary way to keep yourself motivated to work-out.Frequent rewards when setting out on a new fitness regimen are well-deserved. Get concert tickets, go to the spa, get a massage, plan a party to show off your results, or plan a trip.
- Access an Exercise Memory The new exercise motivation research also shows us that simply accessing a memory of a previous workout can give you added motivation to workout. Think about a time when you last worked out for a quick burst of fitness motivation!