No exercise motivation? Don’t be too hard on yourself!

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No matter how much you would like to see yourself as a fit athlete, you are also and foremost a human being. For most of us, that means exercising is not the only thing we do. Every now and then a busy work project, a rich social life or just feeling a little bit down decreases our exercise motivation.

Sometimes, it’s hard to keep up with your intention to exercise ones a week or follow your detailed training plan. You do not feel like exercising or have other priorities. And that is perfectly fine. We all experience this now and then. There is no need to think negatively about a lack of exercise motivation. Keep reading to stay positive and gain motivation.

Exercise should be about getting to know your body. The best way to do this is by listening to it. A healthy athlete is well trained in listening to the signals of the body. They can perfectly distribute their energy from start to finish or know exactly how much sets and reps they need to get fitter. Listening to your body also means noticing and accepting signals that make you not feel like working out.

Does that mean you should do nothing when you don’t feel like? Not per se. Let’s get back on that in a second.

When busy in life, exercise has the potential of reducing stress. Not using exercise as a stress reducer is one thing, stressing about not exercising is another. This of course serves no purpose, or as Shakespeare ones said: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Accepting your lack of motivation is therefore a good first step.

I know what you are thinking: well, that’s all well and good, but I am losing fitness. True. Detraining – the opposite of training – will happen. But often when not motivated, health is more important than fitness performance. Talking about health: with only 50 minutes of mild exercise a week you can lower all kind of diseases with about 20-30%. Exercising more (intense) is not proven to be healthier.

So, after accepting your lack of motivation, aim to keep moving instead of training. A walk or bike ride will get you moving, keep you healthy and get energized. The sooner you feel happier with the current situation, the fastest your motivation will grow. Be patient, give it some time and just keep moving.

Do you doubt whether to listen to your body or just do the planned training session? Always listen to your body first! Then, decide what to do with those signals. There is a difference between a lack of discipline and a lack of motivation. To distinguish between those, discipline yourself to start the warmup, and decide whether to proceed afterwards.

A good (personal) trainer or coach should also be able to help you with the decision making. They should not only look at the numbers and training plan. They also listen to – and preferable even track – your needs and feelings. If you don’t have a trainer, ask yourself the question: what would you recommend your best friend to do if he or she was in your situation? Take into account both your private life as human being as your wish to be that fit athlete. Good luck!