Finding the Motivation to Exercise

Motivation: You know you need it to reach your fitness goals, but what exactly is it? Whether we’re talking exercise, work-related tasks, or managing a household, there are two main types of motivation at play: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation refers to an internal stimulus, while extrinsic refers to an external one. Moreover, these two types of motivation may at times be intertwined.

Keeping up with exercise requires discipline and commitment, but it’s normal for motivation to come and go. Use the tips here to keep up with your routine and meet your fitness goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you find the motivation to exercise?

    Motivation to exercise can be both intrinsically and extrinsically driven. An example of an intrinsic motivator would be the desire to feel more confident and comfortable completing day-to-day tasks. Carrying groceries, walking up the stairs without huffing and puffing, and playing more often with your kids are all examples of intrinsic motivators. You may also want to feel your best in your favorite clothes or out at the beach or by the pool. This appearance-driven motivation may be considered extrinsic.

  • What is a habit?

    A habit is a regular tendency or practice. While research varies on the timeline of habit formation, over time, a habit becomes second nature. Brushing your teeth or taking a walk every day after dinner are examples of habits.

  • What causes a lack of motivation?

    When intrinsic motivation is lacking, it may be more challenging to reach your goals. If you’re already on your journey and not seeing results, this also may be a deterrent.

  • How do you make exercise a habit?

    Planning and preparation can both help make exercise a habit.  This may be as simple as scheduling your workouts and honoring them in the same way you would an important meeting or doctor’s appointment.  Utilizing certain cues and focusing more on the habit than the reward when getting started may also be helpful.

Key Terms

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  2. Smith KS, Graybiel AM. Habit formationDialogues Clin Neurosci. 2016;18(1):33-43. doi:10.31887/dcns.2016.18.1/ksmith