It’s no secret that regular exercise is good for you. Everyone knows that staying active is conducive to maintaining a healthy weight, decreasing the risk of disease, and supporting your overall physical and mental health. And yet, many of us still struggle to fit in regular exercise.
If you have no motivation to workout anymore — whether it’s been a long-lasting thing or you recently find yourself less-than-excited about exercise — there are probably valid reasons. We just need to look at those reasons and find ways to uncover the drive you’re looking for.
Why Making Time for Exercise Matters
The benefits of exercise are both short- and long-term, and they all matter.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exercise can benefit your mental health (such as reducing anxiety) immediately after moderate to vigorous physical activity. Working out regularly can also increase your chances of living longer overall.
Other huge benefits of exercise include:
- Helping you maintain a healthy weight
- Improving functional fitness, which allows you to perform everyday tasks better
- Greater strength and protection for your bones, muscles, and joints
- Slower loss of bone density
- Reducing your risk of disease, especially type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and common cancers like breast and colon cancers
- Helping protect your heart from a heart attack or stroke and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol
- Sharper thinking and learning skills
- Reducing your risk of anxiety, depression, and sleep issues
Basically, working out helps your body and mind in just about every way.
But if you’re struggling with workout motivation, you probably already know about these benefits. The problem is that you still can’t get yourself to just do it.
Let’s explore why.
Why Do I Have No Motivation to Workout?
Reasons you might lack workout motivation include:
- You feel like you don't have enough time.
- You're not sure what to do for exercise or how to create a workout plan.
- You're bored with what you've been doing.
- Sedentary activities call to you instead, such as watching Netlfix, playing video games, or scrolling on social media.
- Other needs aren't being met, such as sleep, stress relief, or nutrition. (Thankfully, exercise can help improve each of these!)
- You view exercise as too complicated, uncomfortable, or painful. Maybe the gym also intimidates you.
- It's difficult to see the immediate downsides to not working out — for example, the adverse health effects of being sedentary might not show up until years later.
Do any of these sound familiar? There are many reasons you might struggle to work out enough, and each is valid.
But if you want to make a change and improve your health long-term, you need ways to address your hesitancy and make starting easier.
What to Do When You Have No Motivation to Workout
Whether you need some Monday workout motivation or have been trying to exercise consistently for years, here are some shifts you can make to increase your motivation.
Check Yourself for Perfectionist Thinking
Many people get into “black-and-white” thinking about health.
For example, they might get a massive burst of motivation to get healthy (maybe because of a New Year’s resolution) and go full speed ahead. They’re hitting the gym every day, meal planning and prepping, and avoiding all of the vices they once held…
But after a month or two, this all-or-nothing isn’t sustainable, and they fall back into their previous habits. Before they realize what has happened, that gym membership is gathering dust.
The problem is that an extreme fitness and diet regime doesn’t fit most people’s lifestyles. And unless you’re a figure competitor or professional athlete, you don’t have to be extra strict to live healthily. In fact, taking a more flexible approach is your best bet over the long term.
So, if you miss a day of exercise after committing to it, it’s not a reason to throw in the towel entirely. Maybe you still have time to go for a quick walk, do some pushups, or fit in a few Gorilla Bow squats before the day is over. Or maybe you just acknowledge that you didn’t make it this day and will make it part of your schedule tomorrow instead. (But hold yourself accountable to that!)
The point is that you make working out a regular thing overall. The little details don’t matter as long as you’re consistently moving towards healthier habits.
Redefine What “Exercise” Means to You
Quick: what picture comes to your mind when I say “exercise”?
And what do you think of when I say “working out”?
If the image you’re conjuring fills you with dread, you might have the wrong idea of exercise — at least the type that is best for you. Thankfully, there are many ways to work out, stay active, lose weight, and build muscle, which can look different for everyone.
You might also want to switch up your terminology. “Exercise” can make some of us recall bad memories of high school sports training or past workout attempts where we hated the routine or even ended up injured.
The type of exercise you do should be enjoyable and sustainable, not something you always dread. You don’t even have to use the word “exercise” when thinking about fitness and health. Maybe you think about simply moving your body, stretching your muscles, and feeling strong. You could focus on the benefits like “getting in movement” or “keeping my muscles healthy.”
So, ponder this: what type of movement might help you feel empowered and more excited about doing it? If you’re not sure yet, try out different types of exercise, and start small. (We’ll go more into exercise options later.)
Write Down Your “Why” (and Revisit It Often)
Another reason you might lack workout motivation is because the tangible benefits seem too far away. It’s so much easier to stay on the couch after work or sleep those extra 30 minutes instead of waking up early.
That’s why you need to keep your “why” at the front of your mind. Your workouts must mean something to you now. You need to know their value.
So, why do you want to exercise? If you’d answer “to build muscle” or “to lose weight,” that’s great — but let’s dig deeper.
Why do the benefits of exercise matter to you?
For example, maybe you know exercise is helpful to your mental health and stress reduction. Maybe you notice your energy levels are better and you have less back pain when you make time to exercise. That means you get to enjoy life and time with loved ones more! Perhaps it’s rare that you can fully spend time bettering yourself.
Write down your “why(s)” for exercising, and keep the list somewhere you can often see, such as on your bathroom mirror. Also, revisit and reword your “why” every month or so to keep it fresh and exciting.
Switch It Up
If you’re struggling to work out, it could also be because you’re bored. The idea of engaging in a specific exercise doesn’t excite you in the least. If that’s the case, no wonder you lack motivation!
But thankfully, working out doesn’t have to be boring. You can mix things up a little by trying different forms of exercise:
- Resistance band workouts are a nice change for many people who are used to barbells, free weights, or bodyweight exercises.
- CrossFit-style workouts ramp up the intensity and require functional full-body focus, which can be an exciting change.
- Yoga and pilates provide a more mind-body component for those who want to better connect with themselves and improve flexibility.
- Aerobic exercises that are good for your heart and more steady-state include walking, running, riding a bike, rowing, and elliptical machines.
- If you’re intimidated by the gym, consider at-home workouts, partner workouts, or outdoor activities.
List a variety of activities you can do, and turn to that list when you’re not excited about the workouts you’ve been doing. Also, note any of your favorite types of exercise. Those might be the best to use when you’re feeling incredibly unmotivated.
A well-balanced routine contains strength training, aerobic exercise, and flexibility and mobility, so that gives you a lot to choose from.
Commit to Just a Little Movement
The perfectionist side of your mind might think, "but if I just go for a walk, that's not good enough." But this is the black-and-white thinking we want to move away from.
Remember, if your standards are impossible for your situation, you'll end up sitting on the couch (maybe even sad-eating whatever's in your fridge) and not doing any exercise at all.
Instead, taking a more gradual and imperfect approach will help you view working out as a more fluid and enjoyable part of life.
So, if an entire workout seems too daunting and you just can’t get yourself to go there, go smaller. Commit to just 10-15 minutes of movement, and see where that takes you. You might feel so good about it that you end up doing that workout after all!
Make Exercise a Part of Your Daily Routine
Remember, exercise is an activity that you want to maintain for life. You’ll want to make it a habit that sticks with you.
And habits take time to build. Some gurus will tell you that it only takes 21 days, but neuroscientist and psychologist Brian King claims there are too many variables to give the same timeframe for everyone.
The bottom line is that building a habit takes time, but it can get easier to repeat each time. And when you add working out into your day — just like you do with other commitments — it will feel more automatic and require less thought.
Maybe you fit in exercise before work, after work, at lunch, etc. Start setting the habit to work out at a specific time so that it's just part of what you do every day. Getting in exercise at the same time and in the same place will also help.
Be Mindful of What You’re Replacing
Making time for a new activity (like exercise) often means you have to sacrifice something in its place.
For example, you might sacrifice sleeping later before work or extra time in front of the TV after work. These sacrifices are surely worth it, and you might not miss them after you get used to your workout time. Just make sure that you are still meeting other needs, too, such as daily quiet time and getting enough sleep each night.
Realize That You Don’t Always Have to LOVE It
When you find exercise that you enjoy doing, it’s easier to find motivation most days. However, let’s not pretend that everyone is excited about exercising every day. There likely will be days that you don’t feel like doing anything.
During these times, it can help to think about working out like you do other things that are good for you. You brush your teeth every morning and night because you know it’s good for your dental health. You also make time for sleep, showering, and going to work to make money. These are things we do to hopefully live our best lives.
So, if you don’t always love working out, that’s okay. Focus on the points above, and recognize that it’s alright for your enthusiasm to come and go.
Keep Accountability at Your Fingertips
We live during a pretty awesome time for fitness. You can access tons of different workouts online through videos, membership platforms, and phone apps. Why not use this to your advantage?
Make technology your friend on your fitness motivation journey. There are tons of apps that help you track your workouts, remind you to work out, plan what you’ll do, and track progress. You can also join an online platform like Gorilla Bow All-Access where you can access countless workout styles for all fitness levels.
Let’s Get Motivated to Exercise
If you’re not motivated to exercise, don’t lose hope. You can build motivation by switching things up, digging into your “why,” and being flexible in a way that keeps you fit and healthy long-term.
Also, give it time. You might have to try several times to make working out a habit. But keep going. Soon, exercise will feel more natural and it will more easily become part of your routine, especially if you follow the tips above. We dare say you might even start to look forward to it!