What Motivates You to Exercise?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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PIANOKEYS88 8/18/2019
Basically. Gym time is my alone time and I am so glad of it. Report
I have two main motivators for exercise my dog and my mental health. My dog is a Jack Russell Terrier, and if I don’t walk him often he can be a terror. In general, we walk anywhere from 5-10 miles a day depending on weather conditions. And I have found that exercise is one of the methods that helps control the symptoms of the mental illness that I suffer with on a daily basis. I can tell when I am slacking off on my workouts, because my symptoms increase. I know rest days are important, but if I don’t at least walk briskly each day my symptoms get annoying. So, I more often take Active Recovery Days than actual rest days. So far it’s worked out well for me overall... Report
GGRSPARK 2/26/2019
I suppose my greatest motivation has been my childhood, in particular summers at our country house. We had swings, a chinning bar, a small trapeze, ropes, and a baseball dismond my dad set up eith ehitewashed stones for bases. Our fence was my best fun- walking on it , balancing on it. We kept moving and I suppose I developed a habit. My mither did a set of exercises every morning. I had great examples and slwsys took exercise for granted and assiciated it with play. It was not a long stretch from ballet classes or skating after school to a lifetime of moving for fun. I established a love of movement esrly on plus the assicuation with play snd fun that formed thr basis of my adult life. I like it. For me it is 100% pleasure, even when it’s not perfect. A lousy class, or an overly busy workout space can turn me iff. So I always try to keep it fun - not wirk, because even as an instructor exercise has been a pleasure. So now, I’m addicted to wirking out. Part of my life and ehen I have to back off, for injury ir illness, I feel awful. Report
SXB990 2/23/2019
It’s the alone no stress me time Report
CECELW 2/13/2019
I don't feel like working out sometimes, but I like how it makes me feel after I'm done. Believe it or not, walking is an excellent pain reliever. It is for me anyway. I have fibromyalgia and connective tissue disease. It really helps control pain and stiffness...eventually Report
AVROIEN 11/24/2018
It is a great way to start my day. I get to spend time with my dogs. I am getting healthier and happier. Report
GRAYGRANNY 11/13/2018
The idea that I may have to go on meds to control diabetes. So far diet has worked along with exercise but now that body has decided to do the dangest things to keep me from exercising..... that is on hold for now Report
BUDDHAWOMAN0 11/13/2018
My grandson and granddaughter does showing them a good example. Always willing to listen to others and each out Report
My motivation for working out was a mid-life crisis. I'm not going into the long saga of events that caused it, but the upshot was that I decided to make some changes. I finally tired of feeling old and looking unattractive; so my primary motivation at that time was to look better. I had gotten SO fat and out of shape that, on Day 1, I could do only 100 steps on the stair climber, two minutes on the exercise bike, 10 sit-ups, and a few little lifts with 5-lb. weights. But I added a few steps, reps, and minutes to my workout every day, so that by mid-summer, I was working out vigorously for 60-90 minutes four-five times/week.

I am 55 and menopausal. I had heard and read many discouraging tales about how hard it would be to lose weight, and was chided about my unrealistic expectations of wanting to regain my graduate-school weight and fitness. So at first, one motivator was the idea of proving people wrong! And in fact, I had no trouble losing weight and improving my fitness. I won't say that it was "easy" because it did require effort and self-discipline, but it wasn't a struggle. I credit SparkPeople with keeping me accountable and providing tools, like the nutrition tracker, that help keep me honest about my diet.

Well, it's been a year and a half. I've met the initial goal I set for myself last April -- and I'm STILL pushing to see if I can lose 10 more pounds and tone up. My motivation now for working out is feeling younger and more confident. I have a competitive streak, and I'm enjoying being able to out-perform younger colleagues, friends, and family. Report
As I age, I exercise to grow stronger. I have a fear of getting too weak to be able to get out of bed. While in a rehab center, I saw first hand that the strongest were the first to begin healing and the first to leave the hospital. Therefore, exercise is SO important to me. THANKS for this ARTICLE!!! Report
thanks Report
Absolutely great Report
I want my mobility back move more Report
I do it because I know it's good for me. Report
I work out because it makes me feel better about myself, that is, that I am doing what I can to firm up, strengthen, and just overall help my body stay in good condition. I love my zumba class, because it is such fun, and a great workout! My cardio class strengthens my abs, arms, and legs. The group I work with add humor to the class, which makes the hard exercises easier to complete. The yoga class meets the needs of my mind, and helps reduce stress. It has been a wonderful addition to my work out plan. Report
If doctors could find a way to show people their self once the lose weight inside & out I think it would motivate people more. My doctors push to help me each visit motivated me more to change. Not to say that I have changed overnight but I'm a work in progress. Report
I don't really have any long/short goals. I'm retired now. I work out because I like how it makes me feel Report
To be healthy and get rid of any negative energ6! Report
It's great working out because it pays off. You feel better have more energy. It makes me gain confidence which you lose when you gain. When you eat right and start working out the pounds start dropping. Its a win win. I look at short term goals cause if I look at long term I get discouraged. I love my weekly goals I set for myself. I plan my meals out I plan how much i want to lose. Then I keep track of my progress. Report
Being a busy mom and grandmom, I find that my excuse has been I don't have time. So I have been making time. I love to dance, so I plug in the Wii Dance and before I know it is have danced 1 hour. After I find what I enjoy, like dancing, I am then more prone to make time to do the more 'formal' exercises like body weight, yoga and walking. I currently am doing Venus Factor Index workouts 3x a week. The other days I do what I truly enjoy...Wii Fit, Wii Dance etc. Report
I am working out daily now because for years I was in so much pain and putting on weight; I had no support from anyone. Thank you for insurance, I have been talking to doctors, and learning about my fibromyalgia. I really wanted to lose weight, but I am learning about getting the strength back in my body first. Report
Both short term and long term factors influence me. I have come to really love running. I love doing it - at least most of the time - and I love how I feel after -- and I love how it helps me burn calories and maintain my weight loss. I miss it so much when I can't. Strength training is hard for me, but I'm trying to get more consistent. Going to try a sticker on the calendar. Sounds silly, but I think the visual will help me. Report
For my mental and physical well being. Also to lose weight!!! To look good in my clothes, don't like the big shirts or blouses!! Report
Working out relieves me of the day to day operations of life events! Report
My motivation to exercise came about a year ago when I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. This disease is a family curse. I don't like taking medicine so I knew something had to change. My doctor told me if I lost weight he would not put me on medication but see how I do with diet control. I must say my best friend has been with me every step of the way. She keeps me going even on days I don't feel like moving. To be around for my husband and children has been the biggest motivation of all. My energy is amazing, my confidence is through the roof, and overall I am excited about this journey i have chosen to take. I started bootcamp in November 2016 and I'm down 8 pant sizes and 50 lbs. I'm loving the new me Report
Have yet to find a motivation to do anything toward exercise. So many things I cannot do, and all the fun things are among them: dancing, bike riding, volleyball...all out of the question now. Never did like exercising. Never felt good about it. Now the body is too decrepit to do much.
I don't like to exercise, I like to train. Exercise implies a boring routine, doing the same thing over and over and over, like a hamster on a wheel. Training implies working towards a goal, with steps along the way to achieve. That said, easy days may be considered by some to be just exercise, but if part of a plan to achieve a goal, they are definitely training days. I spent the better part of this year training for a sub-2hr half marathon, but had to give that up due to my wife's illness (she can run, but cannot be left alone, so I run with her...which helps me keep my base, but is not training, so I feel like I know what I'm talking about). Report
I workout to let go of my day and have clarity. Report
Working out is a great stress reliever for me. Report
Working out regularly helps me to eat better, feel better about myself, and to move easier! Report
I exercise because I want to stay fit active and healthy.
Now I am 60 I have to work a little harder to keep up and going.
It helps with stiffness and aches and pains. Report
When I first started out it was for one thing and that was to loss weight. I found that i really enjoy my workouts. i really like the way I feel afterwards and the benefits of lasting exercises. Report
I have three reasons why I exercise. One, I need to loose weight. I have fought my weight all of my life. Two, I have type 2 diabetes. I am bound and determined not to go on insulin. Three, I want to live an active life for as long as I can. Whenever my motivation wavers, I think about my family. That gets me off of my backside and on to the elliptical. Report
A workout is the ultimate "me time." I have kept at it since university days in a formal way; and I did it in high school out of necessity, as basic transportation. From Jack LaLane on black and white television to mind body fitness to group exercise, every day that I breathe, I am doing some form of purposeful exercise.
Sometimes, I take exercise seriously enough to demand a certain intensity. Other times I am there for the social interaction; and there are times I just blend into the group or specifically go to a workout just to be alone. It's all good; and good for me. Report
I just thought about this as I was walking this morning. I know that I'm burning calories, losing weight, making my body stronger, driving down my blood sugar, improving my health (especially later in life), and I'm glad about it. But, day-to-day, I focus more on seeing the beautiful city I live in, enjoying the time with my dogs, and learning to trust myself to act on the decisions I've made. I'm sure it's not a simple either/or equation, but I'm more aware of the short term benefits each day. :-) Report
Recently, I've found that I've been able to overcome the problems I've had in the past by simply thinking beyond the 'here and now' aspect of working out and fitness. When I first started working out again I was as big of a sceptic as I've ever been, but as time went by, I began to think about why I'm really trying to lose weight in the first place.

In the past it's always been a case of; "I want to be hot", "I don't want to be embarrassed by X, Y, Z..." but now I tend to focus more on my well being. I find that when you go into your workout sessions (and meal planning too) with being happy from the inside out, with a positive attitude and without excuses, it becomes fun even.

Most of us who have struggled with overeating in our lives have a tendency to get addicted to things easily, whether it's candy or, for me, every kind of deli sausage under the sun. Just give yourself time to adjust and get addicted to exercise. It's pretty easy once you get past the initial difficulties of getting your body moving.

Get out of your own way, let yourself get addicted to moving your body. It feels great and you start to love it after a while. Worked for me :) Report
I love to read , so I set the treadmill @ 15% incline & 3.5 MPH & just GO as I read my nook. I can make the words large on my nook ,so it is easy to see! It makes exercise the 65 min that I look forward too. Then since I'm @ the gym I do some weights & flex work. 1.5 hours 5 times a week. I'm happy & 56 years old. Report
I exercise to be healthy...... that's it. I don't love it but I love what it does for me. I've found things I like to do indoors and I do them to be fit and help me stay on track! Report
XExercise has always been a stress reliever forme! Also when I saw how it transformed my body I became addicted! Exercise had so Manu great benefits.! How could you not do it. Report
I like how exercise makes me feel AFTER (and, usually, during...depending on what I'm doing). I am 60 and have been doing some form of activity for at least 40 years...because it's good for my body and my mind. It also makes me look better. I had a mild Stroke in 2012 (malignant high-blood pressure - genetically rather than life-style related) and docs have assured me that my Stroke's severity would probably have been worse and my recovery from it, much slower and not as effective, if I had not already been in the "keep-fit" mind-set. Report
I am motivated to do exercise daily because I know it is good for me and I feel better even if I didnt start out that way, which is really cool. I was never a big fan of exercise but I do see the many benefits I have reaped in keeping it up. Report
I'm motivated by health. I'm a chronically unhealthy almost senior citizen, and since I've improved my eating habits and started exercising regularily, I've been able to undo some of my ailments, including type two diabetes. I'm still working on the blood pressure, though, exercise hasn't helped that. Report
Originally I started to lose weight, and feel better about myself. Now that I'm doing it (and 13 pounds down!) I'm finding so many more benefits! I eat better, I sleep better, I FEEL BETTER, I'm in a better mood and my children are benefiting from that better mood. They are now exercising with me (they're tiny skinny boys but still need exercise!), going to the gym to socialize while I'm in class. So many benefits. It's amazing! Report
I am mostly motivated to exercise by vanity--I want to look good! I am healthy--have been healthy--and want that to continue but I haul myself to the gym cause I want to LOOK better--petty, i know!! Report
Exercise has reduced my anxiety by leaps and bounds, making me much better at my work. That is a HUGE motivation.

Running around with my nephew at a baptism and panting became another motivator.

I also LOVE to hike and want to be able to do that for much longer distances. Report
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.
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!!
My friends and family Report
To look good NAKED:) Report
I feel better,happier and even when the scale hasn't moved I feel like my clothes fit better. Report