Let’s go for it! How to regain the energy to exercise?


The epidemic of new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) has ushered in an unprecedented era of “wanting to exercise but not being able to. During these times, there have been a series of reports that “motivation to exercise suddenly rose and then fell. Ian Taylor, Professor of Psychology at Loughborough University in the UK, explains the causes of these changes in motivation for exercise and explains “how not to lose motivation.

Lost your motivation to work out? Here’s why – and how to get back on track

In response to the global outbreak of COVID-19 that occurred in 2020, the United Kingdom implemented measures such as curfews (lockdowns) and temporarily closed gyms, pubs, and movie theaters. And in conjunction with the lockdown, it is reported that people’s motivation to exercise temporarily increased.

A survey of 2,000 British adults conducted by Sport England, a public agency that promotes sports in the United Kingdom, to measure the impact of COVID-19 found that people continued to increase their exercise time during the lockdown. This increase in exercise time peaked in mid-May 2020, just before the lockdown was lifted, but after the lockdown was lifted, exercise time gradually declined. Social media was flooded with posts saying that people had lost the energy to exercise.
According to Ian Taylor, the cause of the change in motivation for exercise identified in the UK is “leisure time. Exercise is a type of leisure time activity that competes with other activities such as “going for a drink in the pub” or “going to the cinema. However, the lockdown has closed pubs and movie theaters, eliminating activity options. Ian Taylor explained that these circumstances drove many people to exercise.

In addition, the anniversary “milestone” of the lockdown also motivated people to exercise, Ian Taylor noted. Seasonal events such as New Year, new school year, and birthdays have been shown to trigger and motivate people to start something new. In addition, the fact that April and May, the months in which the lockdown took place in the United Kingdom, were arguably the best months of the year for exercise, helped to drive this change in motivation.

However, the lockdown was gradually eased from June 2020, and pubs and cinemas reopened. The choice of activities to do in their leisure time was restored, and people’s motivation declined; Ian Taylor describes the series of motivational changes as “temporary, like New Year’s resolutions” and “just a temporary boost that has returned to normal.”

Ian Taylor explains these changes in motivation and “how to keep motivation from decreasing once it has increased. Ian Taylor says that to reduce the decline in motivation, it is important to find a strong motivation while continuing to exercise comfortably. To find strong motivation, he recommends that instead of thinking of exercise as “doing,” think of it as “becoming” an exerciser. He says that people who think, “I’m not the exercise type, but I want to exercise,” need a lot of mental effort and willpower before they leave home, while those who think, “I’m the exercise type,” can easily leave home and start exercising.

However, in order to be able to believe that you are the type of person who exercises, it is essential that you continue to exercise on a daily basis. Ian Taylor lists the following four ways to minimize the effort required to exercise.


◆1: When you think of something, do it immediately.

Exercise before coming up with excuses or temptations that hinder exercise.

◆2: Preparation is done in advance

Preparation should be made in advance, such as taking sportswear out of drawers. Also, avoid exercises that require transportation to facilityes.

◆3: Break the process down into smaller pieces.

Think of the process of exercise as being broken down into smaller pieces. For example, each action such as “putting on sportswear” or “going outside” requires only a little effort. By breaking the process down into smaller pieces, exercise will feel easier.


◆4: Perform exercises that you find enjoyable

It is easier to continue an exercise that you enjoy and feel good about than it is to continue an exercise that you find hard or painful. If you think you should be lifting weights or jogging, but you prefer jumping rope or dancing, you should do the exercise you prefer, he said.

Referring to the current situation in the United Kingdom, where the number of new infections has increased rapidly since about September 29, 2020, and regional lockdowns have been re-imposed, Ian Taylor said, “I don’t think many people want any more social restrictions implemented, but these situations are an opportunity to develop a healthy lifestyle. It is also an opportunity. Becoming the type of person who exercises and minimizing the mental effort involved in stepping out to exercise can help reduce long-term motivation.”