Overcoming Mental Barriers To Exercise

March 10, 2016

Most people understand how exercise is good for their health. They know that it can help prevent weight gain, promotes weight loss, reduces the risk of heart disease, and can prevent and treat a host of other serious medical conditions. Many people even know what exercise they should be doing and how often.

And yet, despite knowing what they should be doing, a relatively small percentage of people are actually regular exercisers. Others find that their minds quit before their bodies and their workouts are either too short or too easy to be beneficial.

In many cases, mental barriers prevent or negatively affect the ability to exercise. In this article, we’ll explore three of the more common barriers and look at how to overcome them.

1) Early morning exercise – you’d rather stay in bed!

Early morning exercise can be very beneficial. It means that the hard part of the day is done, that you are prioritizing exercise, that you’ll burn more calories on an empty stomach, that the gym is probably going to be quieter, and that you can feel righteous once your workout is finished.

However, while many people go to bed with the intention of exercising early the next morning, they end up hitting the snooze button instead.

One way to overcome this barrier is to get all your workout gear together the night before and place it on a chair on the far side of your bedroom. Take your alarm clock and put it next to your workout gear, well out of reach.

When your alarm sounds the following morning, you’ll have to get up to turn it off – you won’t just be able to roll over and hit snooze. Once you are up and out of bed, you will probably find you have the momentum required to put on your workout gear and head to the gym. Multiply the power of this method by using a coffee machine with a timer so that, when you head into the kitchen, you are greeted with hot coffee to wake you up even more.

2) You feel too tired to exercise

Work or school can leave you feeling mentally drained and lots of people confuse mental fatigue with physical tiredness. As a result, they skip their workout because they are “too tired”.

Mental and physical tiredness are two very different things but can often be confused. The next time you think you are too tired to exercise, put on your workout clothes, head to the gym, and just do your warm-up. That’s it – that’s all you need to do.

However, you’ll probably find that, once your warm-up is complete, you actually aren’t as tired as you thought you were so ease into the rest of your workout. Take it easy though – no need to go crazy. Just get through your workout with energy to spare.

The next time you feel too tired to exercise, remember this experience. Ultimately, any exercise is better than no exercise and, often, getting started is actually the hardest part. Once you start, you will probably find that your mental fatigue falls away like a discarded shroud and you are actually fine to exercise.

3) Working through the discomfort zone

While exercise doesn’t have to be painful to be effective, if you are serious about building muscle or getting as fit as possible, you will have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Not only during your workouts but afterward too in the form of post-exercise muscle soreness and fatigue.

It’s somewhat unnatural to do things that are uncomfortable and even painful – it’s human nature to avoid doing things that hurt. The tougher or longer your workouts tend to be, the more productive they will be but the more discomfort you will need to tolerate.

A question experienced exercisers are often asked is “does it ever get any easier?” and the answer is no. However, you do get better at dealing with discomfort.

Stop looking at discomfort as a negative and view it as a positive instead. If your workout is making you hurt (in a good way – not an injury) then what you are doing is working. Pain, they say, is weakness leaving your body.

It also helps to get angry and use this aggression to push yourself through the last few minutes or reps of your workout. Let “You will NOT beat me!” become your mantra. Stay focused on whatever goal you are trying to achieve understand that the discomfort you are experiencing now is very short lived compared to the satisfaction you will feel when it’s all over.

Your brain is arguably the most powerful muscle in your body. Okay, so it’s not REALLY a muscle but you get the idea. If you can harness the power of your brain, you can achieve great things. But, if you let your brain control your actions, you may well find that it doesn’t always have your best interests at heart! Don’t treat barriers are insurmountable. Rather, see them as challenges to rise up to and meet head on. It is only by overcoming barriers that you will experience personal growth and develop high levels of fitness.

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