You have lots of reasons to exercise but do you actually have reasons that motivate you to workout?
With violent words like “no pain no gain,” “killer workouts,” or “shredded abs,” it’s no wonder that our subconscious naturally wants to back away from exercise. When we associate exercise with harm, our body will protect herself and avoid the danger at all costs.
What a helpful survival mechanism AND what an unfortunate paradox!
Exercise is one of our greatest tools to help us not just survive but truly thrive, yet it has become an enemy to our sedentary culture.
Here are the stats to prove it:
- 70% of our awake time is spent sitting.
- 30% of Americans get no physical activity.
- 50% of those who start an exercise program stop.
How can this be? Our society is not set up for physical movement. And what’s more, we’re fed programs in a box that don’t always fit the way our bodies were designed to move (nor the ways we enjoy moving).
And when we don’t get to express ourselves in a way that moves us, we experience devastating results: depressed mood regulation, lower self-esteem, poor sleep quality, higher risk of injury, a shrunken brain…wait…
A shrunken what?! Yep, when we aren’t able to move our bodies, parts of our brain shut down and shrivel up.
But any amount of exercise grows our brain and quickens our neural connections by releasing BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) to boost neuron development, among a host of other beneficial cognitive activities.
The Key to Long-Term Exercise Motivation
What are the better reasons to move? While fear-mongering may work to light a fire underneath us, what we need is a fire within us.
We’re motivated long-term, not by an external locus of control, but by an internal drive that powers us from within to go out and get what we want.
So what do we want? To lose weight, get buff, be a fitness queen?
We may associate these with people who like to exercise, but they’re temporary surface-level identities that fly away with the dust on our at-home treadmill.
Let’s clear the board in your mind about what exercise is– Exercise does NOT have to be sweaty, hard, painful, or longer than 20 minutes to count.
The Bible’s Reason to Exercise
There’s a lot of shame, blame, and fear revolving around exercise, so let’s start exercising with the truth:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.Romans 8:1-2 (ESV)
No condemnation if you do exercise. No condemnation if you don’t.
The Spirit has set you free, so let’s find out what desires He has set in your heart and how we can use His gift of movement in love, for joy!
Top 5 Reasons to Exercise That Benefit Body and Soul
As discussed in my book Move for Joy: An Intuitive Training Approach to Pursue God in Fitness and Find Happiness, these are the top 5 reasons to exercise that motivate exercisers (and keep them going for life):
- Exercise helps you look good.
- Exercise helps you de-stress.
- Exercise helps you be fit and ready.
- Exercise helps you feel alive with others.
- Exercise helps you feel better.
These motivators are not only the top 5 reasons people sign up for gym memberships, but they also correlate with the 5 Biblical purposes of the body.
Below, we will connect each motivation with our spiritual roots and put a name on our exercise persona (you can read more about them in my book).
The most effective way to change a health habit is not to focus on what we need to stop doing, but to remember “who we are.”
Read through the list and make a note of which one speaks to you. This is who you are in Christ, so you no longer have to work to achieve something, but to get to walk in your secure identity.
Reason to Exercise #1: Exercise helps you look good: “The Looker”
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.Colossians 3:12 (ESV)
You don’t have to change the way you look, but exercise can help change the way you see yourself.
Your body is a covering of glory, a way the Lord surrounds you with His love.
That’s why I call this motivator “The Looker.” The Looker can shift her focus from how she looks on the outside to what God does within her by engaging in outdoor resistance training to promote serotonin, the confidence neurochemical. She’ll know God sees her and loves her beyond looks.
Reason to Exercise #2: Exercise helps you de-stress: “The Freebird”
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”1 Corinthians 6:19 (ESV)
A fabulous way to regulate your stressful thoughts is by getting out of your head and into your body– the temple of the Lord, the meeting place of God!
The Freebird finds her joy in fitness by inviting God to be with her as she goes on outdoor adventures, does barefoot yoga, or moves to her own beat, regulating her parasympathetic nervous system to restore the internal peace.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is a Freebird.
Reason to Exercise #3: Exercise helps you be fit and ready: “The Hero”
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.2 Timothy 2:21 ( ESV)
The Hero is motivated to exercise by making herself ready and fit for whatever the day will bring her…no kicking toddler tantrum or game of tag will tire her out! She’ll catch that little one and wrap him up in her strong arms of love.
Since her body is God’s vessel, she finds joy in fitness by asking the Lord to fill her up with the joy of His strength.
Short, effective workouts like timed intervals with compound movements release adrenaline, the energy neurochemical she needs to keep going. She’ll be reminded that Christ is the Hero working through her.
Reason to Exercise #4 Exercise helps you feel alive with others: “The Warrior”
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.Ephesians 4:15-16 (NIV)
The Warrior knows she is not alone, but part of the body of Christ. She is motivated to do her workout plan when faced with a challenge, especially if it includes other people. She yearns to experience the collective victory her spirit already knows in Christ.
The Warrior finds joy in fitness when she invites someone else into a specific competitive goal like a race, a sport, or to break a personal record. This releases dopamine and oxytocin so the Warrior can feel both accomplished and connected in Christ
Reason to Exercise #5: Exercise helps you feel better: “The Keeper”
So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.2 Corinthians 5:9 (NIV)
The Keeper is motivated to exercise because she knows it’s a wise investment into her long-term health—acting as a good steward to keep the one home God has given her for life.
She finds joy in fitness by devoting her workout to God as a way to say, “thank you!”
The best exercise for The Keeper is sustainable and consistent, releasing serotonin…like completing 10,000 steps per day, biking to work, or waking up with yoga (even on those days she feels too busy to exercise). She will know that in Christ, she is a Keeper.
What’s your exercise persona?
You may connect with one of these motivators immediately, but if you don’t, run over and take my exercise motivator quiz to find out what kind of exerciser you are.
You may have a dominant motivation you stick with for life, you could be a blend of several, or you may be motivated by different factors depending on what age, stage, or season you are in.
In my book Move for Joy, I’ll help you ditch the diet dogmas of exercising to punish your body, and instead, guide you through your better reason to exercise based on what you need and how God made your body to move.
Exercise is not a way to run from your life, but to walk with your God.
Enjoy the journey with Him, every step of the way!
- Why have you exercised in the past?
- Do you relate to any of these reasons to exercise?
- What motivates you to move?
MEET KASEY SHULER
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.