Exercise. Forget the “how, when, and where” we exercise. “Why” do you exercise?
Sometimes the better question is why do you not exercise? For most of us it’s a time issue. Our lives are running at full speed and various things get in the way. But that’s not the case for everyone. And it’s not the case at all times. We all have periods or seasons where we get back into our workouts. But then they fade. I speak from personal experience, too, on this one. I’m a professional at promoting healthy living including exercise and a great diet. And I fall away from my routine just like everyone else.
But then what drives our workouts? What is the primary motivation when we have those great seasons of dedicated workouts and disciplined routines?
Monday Gina Kolata wrote about this in her NYTimes column, “Sold on the Feeling, if Not the Benefits to Health.” This is an interesting article because it’s something I’ve battled with numerous clients. As a science and research guy, I know all the academic reasons to exercise. As a full and half marathon runner, I know the wonderful feelings of sticking to a workout routine and experiencing the benefits of that training. But sometimes education and knowledge aren’t what get us out on the track. The problem, which the article so wonderfully states, is that the “feelings” of the benefits of exercise take so long to develop. And to be honest, they’re still pretty vague. Do you feel your muscles getting stronger? Do you feel your blood pressure getting to healthy levels? Do you feel your heart getting more efficient?
But when you are committed to the routine for an extended period of time, it’s a different story. Going a couple days without a good workout and you get a little grouchy. Your muscles get anxious. Your mind says, “I just need to get out for a run!”
I think it’s interesting that exercise psychologists are starting to look at the feelings we get from exercise rather than the health benefits. Humans have many different levels to their behavior and attitudes, especially towards health. If we can understand more of the benefits from exercise, we can tailor our exercise prescription and coaching accordingly.
Have you ever had positive feelings towards exercise? When did you have them and what would it take to get those back?