We’re living in one of the toughest periods of life right now and it is sometimes hard to muster up motivation to do anything- let alone exercise. Often, exercise is the first thing that we let go of when we are limited on time or bandwidth. We then end up feeling guilty about not doing it. We know exercise is an effective treatment for people with depression and anxiety, but there are days when we’re just not in the mood for it. See below some tips to get you moving again when you’re feeling ‘meh’ about exercise.

Start small

Can’t commit to a full 30 min a day or 150 min a week in exercise? Reframe your mind about exercise and simply keep moving. This could mean taking a walk to the shops, walking your dog or doing some household chores (yes, that counts!). Think of the cumulative steps that you are taking that could count towards your exercise quota for the day or week. Alternatively, start with little things that put you in the frame of mind for exercise. For example, put your workout clothes on and simply do your errands to build up the mindset.

Make it easy

When things aren’t simple, we’re less likely do it. If you can pre-empt your barriers you can then devise steps to counteract them. For example, if you know that exercise in the morning is a no go- then don’t schedule or do any in the morning. It’s that simple. If the thought of lugging exercise gear around from home to work to class is a turn-off, find ways to leave your gear at work or your class. You can also try following the 2-minute rule from David Allen’s book “Getting it done”. If a task takes less than 2 minutes, for example putting your workout shoes on or laying out an exercise mat, go ahead and do it. That one little action may push you to go further and give you the motivation to finish the task.

Make it a habit

James Clear, the author of the New York Times bestseller “Atomic Habits” says that establishing exercise as a habit will make it automatic and therefore less likely for you to skip. Habits are behaviours that you repeat without thinking, which means they are also behaviours  that you start repeatedly. In other words, if you don’t consistently get started, then you won’t have a habit. In many ways, building new habits is simply an exercise of starting time after time. Part of this is understanding it’s important to set up the process or system rather than focusing on the goal. We tend to focus on the results of exercise, saying: “I will be stronger and healthier when I exercise every day”. This, however, sets us up for disappointment if we don’t reach those goals. Instead a better way is to set up the habit or the routine of exercise so that it becomes our new normal. One way to establish a  new habit is setting up an upper limit of our behaviour. For example, setting up a rule that you will not exercise for more than 10 minutes a day. This will help establish a small, achievable habit before you build up to a longer duration.

Practice self-compassion

Finally, make sure you are kind to yourself. Each step is progress and like anything else it is about small steps of progress rather than perfection. It’s perfectly normal to not feel like doing something-we’re in a global pandemic after all! There are days when it is just too hard and that is ok. Releasing ourselves from self- judgment, criticism and the “should” mentality is a large part of practicing self-compassion.

Mood Active has specially designed mental health exercise programs. These programs provide extra supervision, support and coaching for its participants to thrive. So, if you need some extra help, get in touch with one of our trainers or contact us on 0412 190 842 or here.


Cover Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash