The SparkPeople Blog

What Motivates You to Exercise?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/10/2013 12:00 PM   :  286 comments   :  26,365 Views

It's no secret that there are many people who don't like to exercise for one reason or another, but at the same time, there are many others that really enjoy it. Why is there such a love it or hate it attitude towards exercise? There are numerous answers to that question and some might say that they had a really bad past experience, they find it boring and haven't found something that is enjoyable, or they may not see the instant gratification (weight loss) that they are looking for when it comes to exercise. As many of you know, what motivates one person to do something may not work for the next person. 
 
According to a recent article in The New York Times, health professionals may have been "using ineffective tactics to entice sedentary people to become, and remain, physically active." It suggests that perhaps we can motivate more people to exercise by promoting the benefits that you can see today, such as feeling happier, more energized and less stressed, rather than the health benefits in the future, such as weight loss or preventing heart disease or other health conditions. If viewing exercise that way is what helps a person be motivated to be more active, then that is great! But this makes me wonder how many people would continue to be motivated to exercise by the instant gratification of how you feel compared to other motivational factors, such as finding an exercise activity you enjoy or working towards other health benefits. No matter what the motivation is, the important thing is that we all become and stay active.

I find that my motivation to exercise is different each day and include both short-term and long-term benefits. I definitely enjoy the instant gratification that I get from it that causes me to feel better in general after exercising, but I also continue to do it because I enjoy the activities that I do, along with the long-term health benefits that I know I receive from it. I can't say that just one of those types of motivation work best for me (both work well in combination), so I certainly can't say either of those alone would work for you either.



So tell me, what motivates you to exercise? Do you think it is more motivating to focus on the short-term or long-term benefits (or a combination of the two)?


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Comments

  • ALLERGYMAMA07
    286
    MY “WHY” – July 15th, 2014

    I grew up in a home where food is love, and learned to binge eat, hate my body (even at 5'6" and 128lbs when my doc wanted to hospitalize me - I believed I was fat and ugly and unworthy b/c that's what I was told and observed), sneak food (especially sweets and chocolate), and was told that exercise and wanting to change my body was "selfish". Needless to say, my late brother, my parents, and my sister were/are obese. My ex-husband made things worse, bringing me home Oreos, candy bars, etc, telling me how much I deserved them and encouraging me to eat them all in one sitting. Every time I tried to get healthy, he stepped up the abuse.... I was over 200lbs at my heaviest, after a miscarriage and the birth of my first child 11 1/2 years ago. Somehow, between each pregnancy I lost 10-20lbs, but during the end of my marriage I gained it all back from the stress of leaving and having NO ONE but a couple of friends to turn to. I began this journey in earnest a year ago in May, when I looked at my wedding pictures and realized how heavy I'd gotten again and how uncomfortable I was in my own skin, and how I NEEDED to take control of my health. I don't want my 3 kids growing up with a mama who is too fat or sick to do things with them. I want to be able to go on long hikes, and bike rides, and run races, and when they get to high school I want to be a healthy in shape mom, not the fat mom they're ashamed to be seen with. I also want to teach them that just because we have many health challenges (I've got celiac, life threatening food allergies, severe asthma, adrenal fatigue, environmental allergies, and MCS - the kids have all but adrenal fatigue), it IS possible to be healthy and strong, and reduce our incidences of being on prednisone, confined to the recliner (which is how I spent most of last fall). I also want to be healthy for my amazing husband, my soulmate, who God put into my life when I least expected it, and who is my biggest supporter and encourager - and who is 10 years older than me and has nerve issues in his spine and isn't supposed to even be walking by now - but has taken up running with me and eliminated all of his blood pressure meds. I want us to be excellent examples to my kids of what life can be like if you just put in the effort.
    - 7/16/2014   10:56:07 AM
  • MIRANDI77
    285
    I am motivated to exercise for the following: to lose weight, to be able to eat more calories, for long term health, and just because I like to get out early in the morning and get my walking in! I love the outdoors, so that helps!!
    - 5/21/2014   1:07:16 PM
  • KATIEKITTEN121
    284
    My friends and family - 5/21/2014   8:46:50 AM
  • SCOOTERPIG
    283
    To look good NAKED:) - 5/20/2014   9:47:46 PM
  • SMURF72
    282
    I feel better,happier and even when the scale hasn't moved I feel like my clothes fit better. - 5/20/2014   6:31:49 PM
  • 281
    There is no easy answer but the main one is health. I want to get healthy. Our bodies need exercise. I want to gain muscle and lose fat and tone as I go. I want to not crumble under the weight of my body (carrying 350lbs+ everywhere you go is h*ll!). I want to live a long life.

    Both my parents and a lot of my family have heart problems and there are lots of other potential health issues exercise can help. I want to do what I can to reduce my risk factors. Their doctors are always telling them to exercise. It is important!

    It is also an awesome mood helper. I get depressed a lot and easily. There is never a time I end my walk or workout without a smile on my face and a feeling of happiness and accomplishment :) I am in a stage where is hard but every day that it is hard, I push through it so I like the reward of knowing I can do this. - 5/20/2014   5:27:13 PM
  • 280
    I exercise because I want to increase my mobility and range of motion. I have a hip issue which had to improve to a certain point before I could exercise at all. Once I reached that point, which coincided with my discovering Spark people's archive of exercise videos, I've exercised regularly. I LOVE the seated exercises. I do the core and cardio routines 5 to 6 times weekly. Thanks Sparkpeople!! - 5/20/2014   1:28:14 PM
  • 279
    Knowing that being active is better than not being active motivates me. Even if it's just for a little bit. Plus a feel better always after and I know eventually my body will benefit. - 2/25/2014   7:13:56 PM
  • EMMAWALKER11
    278
    I find that I'll get up and be like yes I will go for a run today than five minutes later I'll still be on the couch. - 2/8/2014   10:24:02 AM
  • 277
    my very accurate digital scale motivates me and the "feel good" feeling after exercise keeps me coming back for more. my Kinect Zumba is also teaching me how to do some cool new dance moves... - 1/9/2014   11:12:38 AM
  • MILAGRO54
    276
    it makes me feel good the rest of the day - 1/8/2014   6:02:24 AM
  • VANANDEL
    275
    I can't imagine a life without exercise and being active. I'm retired and I center my day around exercise. I do a myriad of activities from cycling (42 miles with 4300 feet elevation gain today), hiking (Boulder was in the 90s yesterday, but we beat the heat with a 3-hour hike up at 9000 feet where it was in the 60s and 70s), walking, step classes - and so much more. I take 1-2 recovery days each week, but usually walk on those days. Exercise is freeing, stress-reducing, fun, and exhilarating. I had to give up running because of some skeletal issues, but there were always other activities to take up the slack.

    Feeling healthy is my motivation. I see that as both short-term and long-term. - 7/5/2013   10:47:44 PM
  • 274
    The full length MIRROR! - 7/5/2013   11:33:43 AM
  • 2DIETORNOT2DIET
    273
    I wish I could learn to love exercise, but I just don't. The only form of exercise I love is anything to do with water, I go to the pool twice a week for water exercise class, any other form of exercise really hurts my knees and back - 7/5/2013   10:15:05 AM
  • 272
    I worked out a lot more regularly before I spent my mornings reading SPARK stuff, but I still get quite a bit of regular activity in my garden and I've learned many things from hanging out here. - 7/5/2013   9:36:23 AM
  • BRENDAHUNLEY01
    271
    I have never been sorry that I did my yoga or workout. Always happier and better balanced after any type of exercise. Walking, hiking, yoga. I have had had many times that I regretted not moving when I had the chance. - 7/5/2013   6:59:37 AM
  • 270
    all sorts of things motivate me to exercise:

    Knowing that it's good for me (yes yes, I know. I have a strong parent)
    Wanting to look good
    Not wanting to be limited in my choices of activities (and late in life, my choices of caregivers)
    For my heart
    My activity monitor (I use Weight Watcher's ActiveLink
    The joy of a particular exercise - and the chance to watch dumb tv while doing some of my favorites
    The Pure Pleasure of movement

    But most of all - it's habit. I'm in the habit of daily exercise. When I don't get any exercise I feel weird. - 7/5/2013   6:46:36 AM
  • 269
    I exercise because I love how it makes me feel. It takes care of stress and worries. It takes me outside to wonderful places. It gets me connected with people. It makes me feel like a champion. Exercise is not a burden, it's a life style. I love how I feel after a run, a bike ride, a hike, a walk, a swim, a dive. I am alive and kicking! - 7/5/2013   6:12:19 AM
  • NARESH4
    268
    I used to enjoy exercise in moderation but regular basis till I was 53yrs.. Then there has been change in work place and I became lethargic and totally stopped any kind of exercise for about 4 years.
    The reason of restarting exercise ( or you can say motivation force) is pain in my left knee about an year back. I visited ortho who recommended leg exercises. The reason of pain in knee was due to leg muscles getting loose to the extent of not holding my knee joint in place.
    I joined gym a month back and working out 5 days a week for about 30 - 40mins. To my surprise I found that knee pain is reduced.... Though I am still a long way from complete recovery, it has averted unnecessary knee surgery and I feel more energetic!!
    So, for me, exercising is certainly short term goal but will continue to reap better results during my old age.
    - 7/5/2013   3:00:01 AM
  • 267
    I initially started exercising as a means to lose weight and get healthy. I made a zero-excuses commitment to exercise 5 days a week. For the exception of an occasional injury or serious illness - I have kept that 5 days a week commitment for nearly 18 months!

    Exercise quickly ceased being a means to an end... it is now an essential part of my life - right up there with air and water! Now, with that said, there are certainly days where I don't necessarily feel like exercising - but what I want and what I NEED will forever be at odds... I know if I DON'T exercise I will be extremely cranky and more prone to binge eat. Knowing I will feel absolutely AMAZING afterwards is usually motivation enough. :D - 7/5/2013   12:16:10 AM
  • 266
    I work out because i'm scared to have another diabetic seizure. I had 3 on my last vacation in gatlinburg, TN. - 7/4/2013   11:53:13 PM
  • 265
    It's a combination of short term and long term goals for me. I want to lose weight to get pregnant. I had pre-eclampsia last time and I want to do anything I can to prevent that from happening a second time. Short term benefits is I am a stay at home mom so I rarely get time to myself. My run at night or in the morning really helps me release my stress. - 7/4/2013   10:47:45 PM
  • FOCUSED-VISION
    264
    I am working out and getting into shape so I can be in the 2016 Olympics for Archery! - 7/4/2013   10:33:04 PM
  • 263
    Exercise is my antidepressant. It's a wonder drug. You have to be on this drug for several weeks before you realize: Hey, I'm not blue anymore! Or: OK, I'm blue, but it'll pass.

    It can be really hard to motivate yourself to start and keep exercising when you're blue. So I try not to let more than a couple days go without it, or I'll end up in a bad place again.

    Regular exercise gives me the feeling that I'm participating in my own life rather than watching from the sidelines. - 7/4/2013   8:57:16 PM
  • 262
    For me it is the long term benefits.Does it matter how you try to get someone to exercise? I think it is best to put both short term and long term benefits out there and people will choose what works for them.

    Healthy habits are very personal. You can't put everyone in the same category. You can't bully them into exercising, Good example like the success blogs on SP are what it takes sometimes to make the first step towards a healthy lifestyle. - 7/4/2013   8:05:30 PM
  • 6REBECCA
    261
    Both work for me. I started working out again because I felt so lethargic, and I was overweight. Now, since I'm not quite as overweight, I really look forward to walking (or any other form of exercise). It's a nice benefit, too, that I'm protecting my body in the long run. - 7/4/2013   7:39:38 PM
  • 260
    Working out is something I can control and for 1-2 hours It's all about ME! No errands to run, no kids, Just good ole sweaty working out, and knowing that how much I put into it directly correlates to what I get out keeps me going! - 7/4/2013   7:09:38 PM
  • 259
    Working out is my time. My time to be by myself, to think, to contemplate, to make myself better. Yes, my workout time is all about me. - 7/4/2013   5:18:55 PM
  • 258
    I exercise because after just a few months of SP 10 minutes a day start I really saw major improvements in my life. I have now gone from walker, wheelchair and scooter to using only a cane and recapturing my normals in my life. I never dreamed I could have so many everyday things back. This makes me guard those exercise times because they have changed my life...baby step by baby step. I also feel I have worked very hard to get this far and it would be a waste to lose this and go backward. I think it is both short and long term. - 7/4/2013   5:18:51 PM
  • 257
    I love to sweat. Then taking a shower afterwards makes me feel cleaner than before I sweated! Love it! - 7/4/2013   5:13:59 PM
  • SNIX7900
    256
    My main motivation for exercising is the way it positively impacts my mood. I feel more energetic and positive when I exercise, and if those were the only benefits, that would be enough. All of the other benefits are bonuses. - 7/4/2013   5:06:21 PM
  • 255
    As a yoga practitioner, here's a long-winded way of saying short-term benefits build long-term benefits. I think of my working out as a three-part wellness program. I use nutrition and exercise to maintain the most healthful functioning of my body that I can manage. That functioning, in turn, helps me to maintain the most healthful functioning of my brain's more cognitive systems, i.e. my thinking ability, as well as the autonomic and endocrine functions that are the basis of my feelings. And both of those benefits encourage me to maintain a regular meditative practice that sustains a healthy spiritual awareness. - 7/4/2013   4:49:21 PM
  • 254
    Combination of both. - 7/4/2013   3:38:48 PM
  • 253
    It makes me feel better: happier, more relaxed, more energised, stronger, leaner. Even if I don't eat well, I still exercise regularly. - 7/4/2013   3:35:18 PM
  • 252
    If I DON'T work out (at least walk and do some simple strengthening exercises) I feel sluggish and unmotivated. - 7/4/2013   3:16:08 PM
  • 251
    I work out for several reasons: 1) helps to maintain my 50+ pound weight loss (for over 10 years now!) 2) keeps my back and neck pain at bay 3) makes my body less flabby so it looks better. - 7/4/2013   3:11:22 PM
  • 250
    My day just isn't complete without exercise. I love how I feel after exercise. I love my lab work from my doctor's office because of exercise. I love being strong. I love how much energy exercise gives me and how it has improved my performance of daily activities. Exercise is my DRUG of choice! - 7/4/2013   2:49:41 PM
  • 249
    I work out to be strong, to be able to wear the clothes I like and so that when I am a senior adult, I will have a better chance of great mobility and less illness. - 7/4/2013   2:40:04 PM
  • 248
    I am motivated to exercise because it makes me feel more energized , it makes me feel stronger & makes it easier to bend & move through my day.
    It helps my depression. With exercise a daily routine I don't need depression medication.
    It speeds up my metabolism & helps give tone & definition to my figure. People are always surprised by my weight they usually guess me 15-20 lbs. lighter & I know it's because of the toning the exercise does for me. - 7/4/2013   2:33:34 PM
  • 247
    I work out because I need to loose weight. I think that I need to look at both the long term goal and short term. Short term goals give the the push to want to make it to that first step. Long term goals tend to make me feel a bit disappointed but it also makes me realize that I made it there once I can do it again. Just hope that this time I dont give up on myself. - 7/4/2013   2:31:31 PM
  • 246
    Motivation for me is wanting to tighten up that loose flab on my belly and butt. So water aerobics and swimming 2x each week and Coach Nicole's Butt Blasting video 3x each week keep me motivated! - 7/4/2013   2:27:32 PM
  • 245
    I like to exercise for a variety of reasons. One of them is that I feel more energized, also to help me keep my weight off and my bones stronger as I age.
    Sometimes I like to exercise for the challenge of it, especially if it is something I have never done before. I like to be strong! - 7/4/2013   1:47:30 PM
  • 244
    Most days, I exercise because it has become a part of my journey to a healthier lifestyle. Granted, 18mon ago, I only exercised because I knew if I wanted to lose weight that cutting calories was only half the battle - I HAD to exercise.

    Having said that though, the type of exercise I choose to do I chose because I LOVE it. I started running late last year and it has done more for me than any diet ever could. I LOVE RUNNING, especially first thing in the morning. My second most favorite way to start the day. :) - 7/4/2013   1:37:08 PM
  • 243
    Aerobic exercise/strength training has evolved over the years into part of my lifestyle. It's part of my DNA with measurable results - lower weight, lower body fat, and the overall fact that exercise/strength training is one of the best medicines you can take with proven healthy benefits. - 7/4/2013   1:34:14 PM
  • 242
    Exercising in the early morning wakes up my brain like no amount of coffee can do. - 7/4/2013   1:19:21 PM
  • 241
    My favorite physical activities as a kid were swimming and bicycling and that continues today at the age of 64. I now have a group of biking friends it's like being a kid again...now that is motivation. - 7/4/2013   1:16:14 PM
  • 240
    Well, I have exercised all my life and I enjoy it. The other reason is that after being diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in 2006, my oncologist informed me that exercise and reducing my weight to my normal BMI would help prevent the recurrence of breast cancer... this is my goal... However, it's difficult for me to lose weight because I am insulin resistant, and it's a delicate balance between exercise and diet... It's an ongoing struggle that I intend to overcome and slowly, but surely, I am getting closer to my goal!... The other thing is that I find that exercising also helps me feel better mentally. - 7/4/2013   1:04:10 PM
  • 239
    I have more energy and am able to do the things I love! - 7/4/2013   12:58:35 PM
  • JOLA11
    238
    I exercise for so many reasons its hard to list them all. I have a great deal of variety in my workouts precisely for that reason - the type of workout I do depends on my objective. If I am stressed I go for a walk in the park or yoga. If I have had a long day and want moderate exercise to unwind the elliptical looks good. If it is first thing in the morning and I want to attack the day I go for kickboxing. Walking the dog is always a feel good activity (for both of us I think). I remind myself that for years I chose to use food for so many things - comfort, reward, etc - and all I got was slower, heavier and depressed. I can use exercise for a number of things too - and the benefits are all positive. The question, really, is what do I want my workout to do for me in a given day? - 7/4/2013   12:58:11 PM
  • 237
    I like working out because 1) it makes me feel good; 2) it gives me something positive to do with my time; and 3) I like knowing that I'm strengthening my heart and bones and muscles for now and the future. - 7/4/2013   12:54:27 PM

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