Monday, September 24, 2012

The Motivation Behind the Motivation

Last week I had essentially the same discussion with three very different people. 

Topic: What motivates us to exercise? 

Three different friends. The different body types. Three different jobs, lifestyles, eating habits and weekend schedules. The main thing they have in common is that all three of them exercise. Two of them are, among other things, runners. The third does not run but does other activities. 

All three people I talked with told me similar stories. They exercised to deal with stress or anxiety. They exercised because their bodies needed the release. Two of them even went so far as to say that exercise had nothing to do with health for them. It was all about managing their stress and anxiety. 

I told all three of them that my motivation for exercise is health. Or, to be more precise, my motivation for exercise is diabetes. 

Maintaining a regular exercise schedule does wonders for my health and my blood sugar. It is much easier to control manage appease the diabetes gods if I give them predictable activity. I have found a routine that works for me and makes me happy but I don't technically need to run, cycle and swim. I could just as easily row, powerwalk and take zumba classes. It's not about the sports, it's all about moving. 

Back to my conversations from last week... 

One of my friends was been injured for a few months and therefore cannot run. She is finding that very difficult because her stress level is less manageable without that regular release. She has tried swimming but it just doesn't cut it. 

Two other friends have found other ways to manage their anxiety levels and, as a result, the crazy drive they used to feel has diminished and they no longer have the push they need to get out there and exercise. They both recognize that their motivation has all but disappeared and are both trying to find other ways to push themselves but it is a struggle. 

During my Saturday morning long run, I was thinking a lot about those conversations. I realize the ridiculousness of this next statement but I still believe that there is a lot of truth to it: I am lucky to have a chronic illness that scares the bejesus out of me. 

I love cycling.

I love swimming. 

I love running. 

That alone is enough to get me moving most mornings. 

But knowing that I dramatically increase my chances of staying healthy and whole if I exercise keeps me moving when I no longer want to. When the mornings are cold and dark and I would rather curl up in bed. 

Unlike my friends who exercise because it helps them deal with stress and anxiety - my motivation will never go away. 


  1. Thanks for posting this workout! I am definitely going to give it a shot as I would like to see how I do with less breaths between strokes. Should be interesting!

  2. Makes sense to me too, Celine. Although I do admit that my motivation to play basketball is as much for my mental sanity and need to socialize as it is for my physical health and diabetes.

    Side note: I can't wait to meet you next month! w00t!