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  • Dr. Norbert Martin, DPT

How to Go from Sedentary to Sporty

Updated: Apr 29, 2023



Group fitness class performing lunges overhead press



Did you know that only 23% of Americans get enough exercise? That means that more than three-quarters of the population is missing out on the health and wellness benefits of physical activity. If you're one of them, you might be wondering how to change your lifestyle and become more active. Maybe you've tried to exercise before, but you gave up after a few days or weeks. Maybe you don't know where to start or what to do. Or maybe you just lack the motivation and discipline to stick to a routine.

Whatever your situation, this article is for you. In this article, you'll learn how to go from sedentary to sporty by using self-motivation and establishing an exercise routine that works for you. You'll discover the benefits of exercise, the types of motivation, the steps to create a routine, and the tips to stay on track. By the end of this article, you'll have all the tools and knowledge you need to start your own fitness journey and enjoy a healthier and happier life.


The Benefits of Exercise

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. It has numerous benefits that can improve your physical and mental well-being. Here are some of the benefits of exercise:

  • It helps you maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

  • It strengthens your muscles and bones and reduces your risk of osteoporosis, arthritis, and falls.

  • It improves your cardiovascular health and lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

  • It boosts your immune system and helps you fight off infections and illnesses.

  • It enhances your brain function and memory and protects you from cognitive decline and dementia.

  • It elevates your mood and reduces your stress, anxiety, and depression.

  • It improves your sleep quality and quantity and helps you feel more rested and energized.

  • It increases your self-confidence and self-esteem and makes you feel more attractive and comfortable in your own skin.

As you can see, exercise can have a positive impact on every aspect of your life. But how do you find the motivation to exercise regularly? And how do you create a routine that suits your needs and preferences? Let's find out.


The Power of Self-Motivation

Motivation is the driving force behind any behavior. It's what makes you do something or avoid doing something. Without motivation, you won't be able to achieve anything in life, let alone exercise.

But what is motivation exactly? And how can you use it to become more active?

Motivation can be divided into two types: intrinsic and extrinsic.

  1. Intrinsic motivation comes from within yourself. It's when you do something because you enjoy it or find it meaningful or rewarding. For example, you might exercise because you love the feeling of being fit or because you want to challenge yourself.

  2. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside yourself. It's when you do something because of external factors like rewards, punishments, expectations, or social pressure. For example, you might exercise because you want to win a prize or because someone told you to.

Both types of motivation can be useful for exercise, but intrinsic motivation is usually more powerful and lasting. That's because intrinsic motivation is based on your own values and interests, not on someone else's. When you're intrinsically motivated, you don't need external rewards or threats to keep going. You do it because it makes you happy or fulfilled.

However, intrinsic motivation is not always easy to find or maintain. Sometimes, you might need some extrinsic motivation to get started or keep going. For example, if you're new to exercise or if you're facing a difficult challenge.

That's why it's important to understand the different types of extrinsic motivation as well. According to self-determination theory, there are four types of extrinsic motivation:

  1. Introjected motivation is when you do something because of internal pressure or guilt. For example, you might exercise because you feel bad about yourself or because you want to avoid feeling worse.

  2. Identified motivation is when you do something because of personal goals or values. For example, you might exercise because you want to improve your health or because it aligns with your beliefs.

  3. Integrated motivation is when you do something because it becomes part of your identity or values. For example, you might exercise because you see yourself as an active person or because it matches your lifestyle.

  4. External motivation is when you do something because of external rewards or punishments. For example, you might exercise because you want to earn money or avoid a fine.

The more you can move from external to integrated motivation, the more likely you are to exercise consistently and enjoy it. To do that, you need to find your own reasons and sources of motivation for exercise. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Identify your purpose. Why do you want to exercise? What are your goals? How will exercise benefit you? Write down your answers and review them regularly to remind yourself of your purpose.

  • Choose activities that you enjoy. Don't force yourself to do something that you hate or dread. Find ways to make exercise fun and enjoyable for you. For example, you could try different sports, join a class, listen to music, or exercise with a friend.


  • Celebrate your progress. Don't focus only on the outcome, but also on the process. Recognize and reward yourself for every small step or achievement that you make. For example, you could track your workouts, set milestones, or treat yourself to something nice.


  • Challenge yourself. Don't get stuck in a rut or plateau. Try to push yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to improve your skills, performance, or intensity. For example, you could increase your distance, speed, weight, or reps, or try a new workout routine.


  • Be flexible. Don't let setbacks or obstacles discourage you or stop you from exercising. Be adaptable and resilient and find ways to overcome them. For example, if you miss a workout, reschedule it for another day. If you get injured, modify your exercises or focus on another body part.

By following these tips, you can boost your self-motivation and make exercise a habit that you love and look forward to.


Establishing an Exercise Routine

Now that you have the motivation to exercise, how do you create a routine that works for you? Here are some steps to help you:

  • Start small. Don't try to do too much too soon. Start with small and manageable steps that fit your current fitness level and schedule. For example, if you're new to exercise, start with 10 minutes of moderate activity three times a week. Then gradually increase the duration, frequency, and intensity of your workouts as you get fitter and stronger.


  • Set realistic goals. Don't set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic or vague goals that are hard to achieve or measure. Instead, set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals that will help you track your progress and stay motivated. For example, instead of saying "I want to lose weight", say "I want to lose 10 pounds in 12 weeks (about 3 months) by exercising for 30 minutes five times a week and eating a balanced diet".


  • Plan. Don't leave your workouts to chance or rely on your mood or motivation. Plan and schedule your workouts in advance like any other appointment. Put them on your calendar or phone and stick to them as much as possible. Also, plan what kind of exercises you will do each day and prepare the necessary equipment or clothes beforehand.


  • Vary your routine. Don't get bored or complacent by doing the same exercises repeatedly. Vary your routine by changing the type, intensity, duration, or frequency of your exercises every few weeks or months. This will keep your workouts interesting and challenging and prevent plateaus or injuries.


  • Find support. Don't isolate yourself or try to do everything on your own. Find support from others who can help you stay accountable and motivated. For example, you could join a gym, a club, a team, an online community, or a coach who can support you, encourage you, and hold you accountable. You can also use apps or trackers to monitor your progress and share it with others.


By following these steps, you can create an exercise routine that works for you and that you can stick to for the long term.


Staying on Track with Your Exercise Routine

Creating an exercise routine is one thing, but staying on track with it is another. How do you keep yourself motivated and consistent with your exercise routine? Here are some tips to help you:

  • Schedule it. Just as you planned your workouts in advance, make sure you stick to them as much as possible. Treat your workouts as important appointments that you can't miss or reschedule. Put them on your calendar or phone and set reminders or alarms to help you remember.


  • Get guidance. If you have difficulty with fatigue or experience sleepiness during the day, speak with your doctor about possible ways to address these issues. Overtime exercise may increase your energy level and reduce feelings of fatigue.


  • Be informed. If you aren't sure what you should be doing for exercise or if you have questions about what exercises are best for you, visit a physical therapist who can help you get started. Once you've done that, you can also work with a personal trainer or other fitness professional who can help find new ways to make your workout challenging and fun.


  • Make it fun. Find activities that you enjoy. Don't force yourself to do something that you hate or dread. Find ways to make exercise fun and enjoyable for you. For example, you could try different sports, join a class, listen to music, or exercise with a friend.


  • Stay accountable. Tell friends, family, coworkers, and others that you are going to start an exercise program. Use the buddy system and find a partner to exercise with you. Do what you like to do and vary your exercise, if possible, to prevent boredom. Tennis, dance, tai chi, and yoga are examples of exercises that can help improve balance, posture, strength, and flexibility, engage the mind, and can be done with partners or in groups.


  • Be focused. Don't let setbacks or obstacles discourage you or stop you from exercising. Be adaptable and resilient and find ways to overcome them. For example, if you miss a workout, reschedule it for another day. If you get injured, modify your exercises or focus on another body part.


  • Celebrate your progress. Don't focus only on the outcome, but also on the process. Recognize and reward yourself for every small step or achievement that you make. For example, you could track your workouts, set milestones, or treat yourself to something nice.

By following these tips, you can stay on track with your exercise routine and make it a habit that you love and look forward to.

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health and wellness. It has numerous benefits that can improve your physical and mental well-being. But how do you go from sedentary to sporty? How do you find the motivation and create a routine that works for you? And how do you stay on track with it?

In this article, we've covered the basics of how to start and maintain an exercise routine that suits your needs and preferences. We've shared some tips and strategies on how to boost your self-motivation, establish an exercise routine, and stay on track with it.

We hope this article has inspired you to start your own fitness journey and enjoy a healthier and happier life.


If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. We would love to hear from you.


If you’re looking for more personalized and professional guidance on your fitness journey, we're here for you. Jubilant offers fitness and wellness sessions for people of all ages and abilities. Whether you need help with weight loss, injury prevention, chronic pain management, or just want to improve your overall health and well-being, we can help you achieve your goals and live a more jubilant life.

Book a wellness session with us today!




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