There are often a wide variety of reasons we do the things that we do. Why do you eat? Maybe it’s simply to survive, but perhaps it’s also to experience the tastes and textures or to distract yourself from emotional pain. You likely even have multiple motivations for doing something, depending on your mood or the present situation.
I know… I’m really blowing your mind with this concept.
Anyways, the same can be said for exercise. There are a few reasons why one would NOT exercise (physical impairment, laziness, low self-worth, etc.), but there are also a number of core motivations for those of us who DO regularly exercise. After mentioning my personal reason in a conversation with a friend recently, I thought I’d look at some of the inspirations folks make use of to pursue fitness before talking about MY reason at the end..
Everyone likes to look appealing. This motivational cue is based on the outward physical benefits of exercise: big muscles, trim bodies. It can also be a means of showing off for the opposite sex during the actual exercise activity, itself… hot babes jogging in darn minimal clothing or muscled dudes pulling off fancy moves or lifting big weights like it’s nothing.
It’s definitely the least valuable reason, I think, but hey… if this is what it takes to get someone motivated enough to take care of themselves, then it’s not ALL bad. Hopefully they find a better motivation along the way, though, as this can only carry a person so far in their fitness journey… especially as the effects of age creep in.
On the flip-side of the vanity coin, for some folks all that matters is what exercise can do for their bodies internally. From the benefits to the cardiovascular system to building practical strength and endurance, those who exercise for their health aren’t motivated by how much nicer they can make their bodies look, but by how much better they can get it to operate. This is also a much more future-thinking motivation than exercising for vain reasons, as the focus is on long-term effects which will carry on as a person ages.
Of course, “health” is also a huge umbrella-term motivator; even within this area there are a lot of smaller reasons, such as physical therapy recovery or losing weight.
3. Personal Challenge
Some individuals pursue fitness as a means of proving to themselves (or others) what they’re capable of. Whether that means pushing the body to its limits or continually striving to beat their best times/weights/distances/reps, these folks are likely the most ardent exercisers on this list, simply because NOT working out is almost unacceptable. It can be a reasonably healthy motivator, but I’ve also seen it result in people placing way too much pressure on themselves and buckling under the weight if they “fail” themselves.
For some, being in great shape is simply their job. Whether its professional athletes or fitness trainers, there are plenty of folks who exercise for the same reason others learn how to master Excel… it’s just part of their day-to-day way of make a living.
5. Keeping Up With The Joneses
While this might sound a little Vanity-category, what I mean here are the folks who “go to the gym” and randomly “diet” as a half-hearted way of checking off that box on their social activities list. Some may go to the gym with friends, spend an hour walking/chatting on treadmills, and then get smoothies after, diminishing their fitness endeavor to little more than a social meetup. Others may simply try doing some push-ups in the morning for a few weeks or bouncing around occasionally from diet to diet because isn’t that how one gets healthy?
So, where do I fall in all of this? I’ve been consistently working out for a couple of years, now, and it’s been an obvious benefit in my daily life: I move better, I’m stronger, I was able to dance in circles with my partner on the dance floor last night without getting dizzy (spinning!). Admittedly, I’ve even gained a bit from the vain benefits when gals comment that I obviously workout or just give me lingering smiles as we pass on the street. What inspired me to begin in the first place, though, was my health, in that some heart palpitations made me nervous and it kicked me back into a regular routine again.
Why do I keep going, though? What is my core motivation to exercise? My wife. No, I didn’t get married in secret, and I’m still currently very single, but I live my life with the hope that I’ll meet someone special at some point. If/when that day comes, I want to be the best that I can be for her, and part of that ambition relates to my body… to look nice shirtless, to be strong and able, to be in great shape for vigorous love-making (thaaaat’s right), and to give myself the best shot at living as long as I possibly can with her. Of course, by now working out is simply part of my daily life, and I enjoy it and can have fun with it, but if I’m being honest… the main reason I exercise is simply to better enjoy my future life with a woman I have yet to meet.
But I’m okay with that :).