Where to Find Exercise Motivation When You’re Feeling Depressed

Where to Get Exercise Motivation When You're Feeling DepressedTrying to find exercise motivation when you’re feeling depressed can be like trying to find the drive to volunteer for dental surgery you don’t need.  That said, there is an important difference between those two situations.  The first is great for your health – including your mental health and mood – and the other is completely unnecessary.  Still, telling yourself that when you’re in the situation doesn’t tend to help much.

What is the Key to Exercise Motivation When You’re Feeling Depressed?

To start, it’s good to understand just how important it is to move around when you’re feeling blue.  To be clear, when this article discusses exercise motivation when you’re feeling depressed, it is referring to the feelings associated with depression and not with clinical depression, a diagnosable mental health condition.

The reason it’s important to know how important it is to move around is that we typically have the lowest exercise motivation when we’re feeling depressed – which is exactly the time when it can be of greatest benefit to us.  Just as we tend to crave junk food when we’re feeling down – when healthy food has been proven to provide us with a much more meaningful mood boost – the same can be said about physical activity.

How to Get Past It and Get Moving

At the very core of exercise motivation when you’re feeling depressed is the building of a positive routine of activities you actually like to do.  By doing that, it will feel much more natural to just get up and get moving, then you’ll typically find yourself having fun anyway, which will only reinforce the drive to get up and get moving the next time.

Of course, that’s great news for the future, but what about when you haven’t yet built that routine?

The key is to look directly at the two main forms of drive and to work them in your favor:

  1. Extrinsic – This type is based on something external, usually in the form of a reward (or avoidance of a punishment). Rewards can be powerful drivers. An example could be that you’ll buy a new workout outfit after you’ve run your first mile, so you can show off your progress in style.
  2. Intrinsic – This form looks to the inside for the reward that drives you forward, instead of something external. For example, walking with a friend because of the sheer enjoyment of being outside and spending time with someone you like. It could also involve sharing your experiences and supporting others on top weight loss forums. This second form is far more powerful on a day-to-day basis and is much stronger in exercise motivation when you’re feeling depressed.
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