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Do You Have A Healthy Relationship With Exercise?

Why we exercise determines and guides how we exercise. Ask yourself where your motivation comes from. Intrinsic motivation comes from internal rewards and extrinsic motivation comes from external rewards. Intrinsic motivation rewards are often experienced right away: mood enhancement, decreased stress, enjoyment and improved sleep patterns. Extrinsic motivation rewards are rarely immediate: weight loss, increased muscle tone, money and praise. Research shows that those who exercise regularly are able to shift focus from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation.

Find your intrinsic motivation:

  • Do you exercise because it reduces anxiety and stress or do you just focus on burning calories and losing weight?
  • Do calories burned or minutes exercising determine how long you work out?
  • Does your mood improve if you’ve exercised?
  • Do you exercise to burn off what you’ve eaten on a particular day or do you look at food as fuel for exercise?

Working Out Should Be Fun 

Exercise doesn’t have to be something you dread; it should be fun. Perhaps you’ve just been stuck in a rut or have grown up playing sports and heard the saying ‘no pain, no gain’ in relationship to exercise one too many times. Studies show that deriving pleasure from physical activity may be one of the most important factors in sustaining exercise, rather than focusing on frequency, intensity and duration.

working out

To help find physical activities you like ask yourself the following:

  • Do you prefer exercising alone or with a group of people?
  • Where do you like to exercise: outside, in a studio, in a weight room or at home?
  • Consider your current fitness level. What would be the most pleasurable type of activities to explore?
  • How do you want to feel after exercise? Calm, energized?
  • What time of day do you prefer to exercise?

Consider How You Feel During Workouts

Being mindful during exercise is important to help you discover those enjoyable activities. Mindful movement places emphasis on how your body feels without judgement or comparison. Physical activity that fosters disconnection ignores physical signs to stop or feels like punishment. Yes, exercise should be challenging but if you are too tired or sick and feel like you need to exercise anyways or focus on how others look rather than how you feel while exercising it inhibits mindful movement.

Questions to ask yourself to improve mindfulness:

  • Do you feel detached from your body during exercise?
  • Do you feel like you can stop exercising if you are in pain or sick?
  • While exercising, do you focus on how others look rather than how you are feeling?
  • Are you able to recognize when your body needs a rest day?

man workout

Remember to Fuel Up Before Hitting the Gym

Exercising when properly fueled not only makes movement more enjoyable, it also makes it easier. Physical activity increases your needs for energy and calories and depending on the type of exercise you engage in will change your nutrition needs. No matter what type of exercise you do, carbohydrates are going to provide the primary fuel for your muscles, protein is going to help repair and build muscles, and fat is going to help fill us up and absorb fat-soluble vitamins. 

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • Do you exercise on an empty stomach?
  • Do you adequately fuel your body before and after exercising?
  • Do you pay attention to hydration, before, during, and after exercise?
  • Do you eat to exercise or exercise to eat?

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