When Exercise Burnout Sets In, Here's How to Get Motivated Again

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Whether you've been a regular exerciser for three weeks or three years, motivation levels tend to ebb and flow. You go through periods where it feels empowering to get off the couch and head to the gym because you're seeing fitness gains and feeling strong, and then there are other times when it's a challenge to drag yourself out of bed and working out feels like a chore. It's normal to have those lazy days here and there, but what if low motivation becomes a pattern you can't seem to shake?

If you're fairly new to exercise and feelings of burnout are tempting you to quit, consider first whether or not you're doing too much too soon. If your workouts are too frequent or too long, they can leave you feeling physically drained. No one likes feeling run down all the time, and regularly experiencing this can allow thoughts of quitting to start infiltrating your brain. Also consider whether or not you enjoy the activities you're doing. If you don't, you're not likely to stick with them long-term. Don't be afraid to try new things until you find activities that you like and seem to be a good fit.

If you've been a regular exerciser for years, feelings of burnout can be more difficult to understand. You likely know your limits and have found things you enjoy doing, which is why you've stuck with them for so long in the first place. It can be difficult and even frustrating to pinpoint what has changed and why, suddenly, your workout just isn't working for you.

Extinguish the Burnout Before It Burns You

Try something new. Consider working toward a new goal if you still enjoy your current exercise routine. For instance, if you like walking or running, train for a 5K in your area.

Take a break. If you aren't comfortable taking a complete break from all activity, find other activities you enjoy doing that might not be considered traditional exercise.

Remind yourself how far you've come. Even if it feels like you're going through a rough patch, that doesn't mean you're destined to end up back at square one. Remember all of the hard work that got to you to this place and be prepared to re-focus and keep working toward your goals.

5 Signs You Could Be Experiencing Burnout

It can be challenging to recognize the symptoms of burnout, especially if you tend to ignore the signals your body is giving you. You might assume you've been extra lazy lately or reprimand yourself for not just pushing through. But what if something bigger is going on? Learn to identify the signs of burnout so that you can make changes to help you feel better, both physically and mentally.
  1. You're experiencing excessive fatigue. If you've been neglecting incorporating rest into your routine, you might find that physical or mental exhaustion starts setting in. Your performance can suffer and motivation dips when it's a struggle to complete the workout and energy is still lacking after you're done. Try taking a few days of rest or light activity, such as a gentle yoga class or a walk around the block. If it seems to help, focus on incorporating a mix of higher intensity, lower intensity and rest days into your routine regularly.
  2. You're easily distracted. Now is the time you've scheduled to work out, but instead you find a million other things to keep you busy. "I can't work out right now because that kitchen cabinet has to be reorganized!" Sound familiar? If you find yourself stalling instead of getting started, take a look at why you keep putting it off. Perhaps you need to find something new that gets you excited about working out again.
  3. You're not sleeping well. A regular exercise routine can help you sleep better, but too much exercise can make sleep a challenge. If you feel like eight to nine hours a night is never enough, or the quality of your sleep is not what it used to be, you might be pushing yourself too hard. Adequate rest and recovery are important for proper shut-eye.
  4. You're a crabby pants. When your routine isn't giving you the good feelings it once was, it can leave you feeling short-tempered and irritated. Think back to a time when exercise was the boost you needed to get through the day on a high note. What has changed since then and how can you help those good feelings return?
  5. You aren't seeing progress. Everyone needs a positive sign now and then that they are headed in the right direction. Improved muscle definition, increased strength, better cardio endurance or weight loss are all ways to know you are getting healthier and doing something good for your body. When you don't see changes, it's easy to get down about your sweat sessions. Evaluate your routine to figure out if your plateau is a case of not pushing yourself enough, not changing things up regularly or something else altogether.
Most of the time, you can avoid burnout by listening to your body and the little voice in your head telling you it's time for a change. It's important to be flexible and explore your options so that when that dip in motivation does inevitably occur, you can easily make adjustments and keep moving forward toward your goals.

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Great article. Report
RO2BENT 7/10/2021
Keep moving forward Report
AFUCITO071 4/19/2021
We are not super man. When you do too much your body will tell you Report
DIVAGLOW 1/14/2021
Great, thanks! Report
SUNSET09 1/2/2021
Keep your eye on the price, SparkFriends. Report
BONDMANUS2002 1/2/2021
Great Report
BONDMANUS2002 1/2/2021
Great Report
MUSICNUT 12/20/2020
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Great article. Report
NANANANA 9/11/2020
Thirty years ago I enjoyed working out with weights and aerobics on alternate days. It was so easy to stop on the way home from work. It felt good even if I had difficulty breathing often. After we moved I tried going to a gym but after walking 2 to 4 flights of stairs, I was too exhausted for anything else so I gave up the gym. A few years later, my asthma was diagnosed. With everything else I was doing, I reserved weight training for vacations which were frequent. Report
GOFORGIN 9/11/2020
ok Report
Thanks for this very informational article. I do tend to have exercise burnout whenever I do something repetitive. It gets pretty boring, but your article had some good suggestions that I can use to change up the routine. Report
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I'm burned out. I am changing out my routines and that is starting to help but the weight still isn't coming off so the burned out feeling isn't going away. Report
Yeah, I have thyroid issues and fatigue problems, so exercising isn't always at the top of my list. So lately, I've just been doing aerobic yoga poses in the morning. Trying to kick my backside back on track! Report
In Nov 2010, I broke both legs in an accident. It took me a long time to recover after several surgeries .
After I healed I became motivated to try different forms of exercise as running is no longer an option.
I began to row, walk, kickboxing, fencing, crosstrain, cycling and hours of gardening.
Sometimes I get in a slump but then I think back to 2010 when I was unable to walk and remember why I started.
I had been walking and working out daily until I broke my leg right at the knee last summer. A big part of my physical therapy was riding a stationary bike. I had one at home, but hadn't used it much. Now, I do 20-30 minutes on the bike most days, and usually throw in some strength training. Report
Loved the article. Time to get back at it. Report
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I was getting an average of over 10,000 steps every day for the month. I was very consistent about it. This month, however, I have been clearing out my cousin's apartment. He died and no one else in the family is able to do it. I am happy I have the energy to get it done, but it has changed my exercise routine. I have been working very hard but it's a different kind of exercise. It will have to do this month. Report
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I am getting a little tired of the water aerobics but haven't found anything else I really like... Report
Needed this. Report
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I have incorporated many different workouts into my routine so I don't get bored, but cloudy, cold days are very uninspiring for me. Seems like a couple days off really helps at times. A couple days off are really insignificant in my lifelong pursuit of staying healthy. Now that spring is springing, though, I'm looking forward to getting out of the gym and going outside and enjoying the sunshine! Report
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I really need to read this article today. I it is time to change my workout plan. Report
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Didn't realize that what I could be experiencing is burnout. I had been faithfully walking every morning on my commute & then -22 hit Chicago and I stopped. I'd still do my sessions with my trainer andctry to incorporate more movementcother ways but I notice sleeping and just general fatigue are getting me down couple that with a bad cold and I'm just out of whack.. I'm hoping that as it warms up walking with my crappy knees won't be so bad and the endorphins I get from my walks will get me back on track.

Thanks for this article it helps pitcthings into perspective for me. Report
I'm in my 60's now & I ex exercise for my labs, bone density & general overall health. I was a competitive bodybuilder in my 30's. Now it's all about my senior upcoming health. Report
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I'm back on track with my exercise - I just got frustrated with myself for not doing it. Report
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wish I knew ways to make my treadmill walks more fun. Report
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