Do you have to force yourself to exercise?
There are many people who love to exercise and be active. These people do not need any particular motivation to do this, for them it is enjoyable and something they look forward to.
However, consider the following quote from The State Of Obesity website (stateofobesity.org/physical-inactivity/):
Eighty percent of American adults do not meet the government’s national physical activity recommendations for aerobic and muscle strengthening. Around 45 percent of adults are not sufficiently active to achieve health benefits. Around $117 billion in healthcare costs are associated with inadequate physical activity. Adults who are inactive pay $1,437 more per year in healthcare costs than physically active adults. Mississippi had the highest reported percentage of inactivity among adults at 36.8 percent.
According to this website, even the very best state in the U.S still had about 18% of its population classified as physically inactive in 2015.
The question is what lies behind all this sedentary behavior – are we just lazy, just too busy, feeling intimidated by our lack of fitness, or is it something else?
You may be hard-wired to not enjoy exercise
There is no question exercise involves effort and potentially even discomfort. Most people who are into serious training will tell you that to improve you have to constantly push your limits, and frankly that involves exertion to the point where it will be tough.
However, once the exercise session is completed most feel better for having done it. Exercise stimulates many hormones in the body, among them dopamine.
Dopamine is our pleasure hormone – the more of it which is present in our body the better we feel. Many of the addictive drugs are dopamine stimulators, and that shows how powerful the pleasurable feelings from this hormone can be.
There is a huge genetic variation within our populations. Is it possible that some people are unable to reap this benefit of exercise and that is why they avoid it? If so, for these folks it may be all pain and no pleasure!
Hate Exercise? Maybe It’s in Your Genes
I am linking below to an article titled “Hate Exercise? Maybe It’s in Your Genes” by Dr. Joe Mercola, osteopathic physician, author, and creator of mercola.com. In this article he discusses a recent study which found that many people may have genetic variations which do not activate dopamine response as a result of exercise.
The article does go on to suggest that it may be possible to influence your genetic expression by regular exercise – this is a new field of study known as epigenetics which considers that we may all have the same genes, the variation is in whether they are naturally switched on or switched off. In the case of exercise, the environmental stimulus of regular exercise could eventually induce your dopamine producing genes to switch on as a result of exercise.
Another aspect to this is the body types our genes give us. There is no doubt that some body types respond better to exercise and build muscle faster as a result. The opposite is also true for the so-called “hard-gainers” who find it very difficult to see physical changes as the result of exercise.
For those of us who only see change come slowly, the whole issue of motivation becomes more difficult.
Are there other motivational triggers which can be employed?
We all feel a sense of accomplishment when we have completed a difficult task and perhaps this can be brought to bear in respect to exercise after enough progress has been made to start seeing positive results. Much of how we approach an activity is based upon how we perceive that activity.
I am also linking below to a second article by Dr. Mercola which explores this aspect of motivation to exercise. It focuses on the observation that how a person perceives the event may be a stronger motivator than the abstract advantages of “long term health” or “a great looking body someday”.
If your pre-exercise thoughts revolve around how hard it will be, all the preparation to get ready , or other generally negative thoughts it will be much harder to actually make yourself do it. On the other hand, if you view it as a challenge to do a little bit better than you did last time it becomes more of an anticipation and much easier to actually get started.
This is just one aspect of ways to find motivation to exercise. The article covers a number of different strategies you can use to make the experience more pleasurable to look forward to.
In view of the health benefits it is clear everyone should have exercise in their life in some form. Fortunately, with the advent of HIIT and other strategies it does not have to be a huge time commitment.
But it does have to be a commitment – you have to decide that your life is defined by being a fit person and be proud when you have achieved it. Despite your potential pre-disposition to think it is too hard, I promise you it is very achievable for everyone.
The glass is after all half full and half-empty at the same time – how do you choose to see it?
Enjoy the articles.