Why Can’t I Stay Motivated to Exercise?


resting

resting (Photo credit: liber(the poet);)

Good News: You are probably not lazy!

Bad News: You may never find exercising a joy.

A person’s perceived lack of motivation to exercise is actually his/her natural response to his/her need for leisure and rest. Some people naturally need to exercise and find it energizing and fun.  Other people need to relax and lounge around and find exercising exhausting or at best a necessary evil. They can’t wait for exercising to be over.

Dr. Steven Reiss, Ph.D. developed the Reiss Motivation Profile ® which measures 16 human needs/motives that are common in all humans. One of the measures is the need to be physically active. If someone is naturally wired to need physical activity, then s/he is motivated to be active physically and feels frustration if the need is not satisfied to the extent the person feels is needed.

When I work with helping an injured athlete understand his/her valued needs for example with a high RMP score in physical, s/he often reports significant mental distress and frustration at being unable to satisfy his/her need to exercise due to the injury.

Someone needing physical exercise tends to report a feeling of rejuvenation and satisfaction when working out. Someone who needs leisure and rest typically reports exhaustion and fatigue following their self-forced exercise.

A Reiss Motivation Profile ® is an amazingly predictive and illuminating tool to understanding one’s needs and behaviors. For someone with a need for leisure, a greater need than the need to be physically active will be necessary to motivate the person to endure exercise. For example, if a person values tranquility, then s/he is motivated to avoid risk, pain, injury and death. If his/her physician prescribes exercise as a way to avoid the painful effects of diabetes, then the person’s higher need for tranquility will override temporarily their need for leisure and s/he will exercise, albeit reluctantly and probably will be counting the minutes until the exercise is over so s/he can relax again.

A leisurely person may find low impact physical activity more tolerable, such as tai chi, yoga, walking, cycling or other less strenuous forms of exercise.

If you are having trouble finding your motivation to exercise,  is it possible you have a leisure deficit?  When was the last time you felt fully rested and rejuvenated?  If you are motivated to seek leisure and are not well rested, then you will probably not have the energy or motivation to force yourself to exercise because you need to rest first.

Understanding one’s needs is the key to understanding one’s behaviors and predicting future behaviors.  By appealing to the most appropriate need,  a person is able to complete a behavior she might otherwise not find naturally attractive or desirable.

For those interested in learning more about the Reiss Motivation Profile ® I recommend, “Who Am I?” and “The Normal Personality,” both by Dr. Steven Reiss.  Dr. Reiss also blogs regularly for “Psychology Today” and you can read more about common human motivation on The World Society of Motivational Scientists and Professionals site,www.motivationscience.org.

If you want to experience your Reiss Motivation Profile, contact me at andy@lifematchesbook.com.

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