Some love exercise, others need to motivate themselves to exercise regularly. But if you try this with force, you will fail in the long term.
Each of us has at least one friend who sees sport as a real hobby. A long run, a challenging HIIT training or concentrated strength training: a sports person sees everything as fun and a fun pastime, while you stand by and think: “I want THAT too!” Unfortunately, not all of us have the spirit of sport in our genes. On the contrary: Even with the knowledge that fitness is one of the keys to a healthy life, we cannot motivate ourselves.
Exercise can scare you and trigger even more stress – although physical activity serves to reduce stress! In the Corona period, when some people said goodbye to their inner sports gruff, we wrote an article about the various factors that keep you from regular training. Including the negative association with the sport.
Shame & pain make you unhappy
“The training has to hurt; otherwise, it was not effective!” We carry this sentence around with us in the back of our heads. And yes, especially as an inexperienced person, a fitness session is not always easy to complete. You sweat, you gasp – you sometimes reach your limits. But sport is not a punishment! That’s why it’s counterproductive to tell yourself that nothing is worse than a workout.
According to a sports specialist, the body takes a long time to get used to regular exercise. It is also normal not to be able to master hardcore workouts immediately after a few weeks. Nevertheless, you do this agony again and again because the training has to hurt – you want to see results at some point!
The toxic circle of physical agony and negative associations closes. But how do you say: All terrible things come in threes? Because we haven’t even addressed the shame that arises when you fail to achieve a goal over and over again. Because many of us are incredibly self-critical, and this means, the inner voice doesn’t care whether the workout was too difficult. Thoughts like “You are just too bad” or “You will never work it out – everyone else can do it too, except you.” are slowly but surely crushing our relationship with sports.
Negative motivation generates negative emotions
In psychology, a distinction is made between the internal motivation that arises from oneself (intrinsic) and that motivation that is influenced by external factors (extrinsic). The latter factors can be positive (reward) but also negative (punishment). If you want to integrate sport into your everyday life successfully, you should start by rewarding yourself for doing sport. If you do this consistently, you should get intrinsic motivation at some point. In other words, the pure joy of sport itself, regardless of reward or punishment.
Some of us also find negative factors such as fear, stress, or frustration motivating. But that is not a long-term path to success. Because we want the sport to be something positive. And that doesn’t work if we throw all sorts of mean things at ourselves.