When we talk about “motivation” to exercise, what do we really mean? The dictionary definition of motivation is “a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way”. In other words, if you can provide a reason for exercising, then you are motivated. Most people have a handful of reasons, at least! And yet they’re still stuck in a place where they don’t “feel” motivated. Why?

Motivated isn’t a feeling; you either are or you aren’t. You can either give a reason for engaging in physical activity, or you can’t. What’s your reason?

If you ask some of the fittest people you know how they stay feeling motivated, my best guess is that they’ll answer “I don’t”, exercise is just part of their routine; it’s a habit. Habit is much more reliable than motivation. Habitual behaviour is regulated by an impulsive process, and so can be elicited with minimal cognitive effort. In other words, if we engage in an action regularly, we’ll end up doing it without even thinking.

Think about some of your daily habits. Every day you brush your teeth, for instance. You don’t think “I’m really motivated to brush my teeth now”, you just do it, because you need to look after your oral hygiene. Make exercise something you just do, because you need to look after your health. Don’t overthink it.

If you would like support to improve your health and wellbeing, contact the Healthy Lifestyles Service. Brought to you by Gloucestershire County Council, we offer up to 12 weeks of FREE Health Coaching. Visit us online at hlsglos.org/referral/ or give us a call on 0800 122 3788.

lHealthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire Service is a free service commissioned by local government to help overcome the health inequalities across Gloucestershire.