What do you do if one day you turn around a realize you don’t enjoy your favorite workout anymore? We’re not talking about one bad day but a slow understanding that it no longer excites you. Is there anything you can do if your heart isn’t in it anymore?
Losing your passion for exercise can be challenging, especially if you see your preferred workout as part of your identity. Maybe you’re a runner, a yogi, or the proud owner of a home gym. So, where has all your motivation gone?
The important thing to remember is: you’re only human. Sometimes it’s only natural to need a change, so here are six key questions to ask yourself if your heart isn’t in it, but you aren’t sure why.
Do you need a new approach?
How long have you been doing the same workout at the same time of day? When you start counting, it may surprise you to discover that you’ve been keeping the same exercise regime for years (or even decades) now. While your workout has served you well, it’s also not surprising if you’ve started to lose passion for it.
So, how can you shake things up and find a new approach for the same exercise? If you’ve always gone for a run after work, why not challenge yourself to join the dawn patrol and start adding a sunrise rather than a sunset to your daily workout.
Similarly, if you’ve consistently been working out from home during the pandemic, perhaps now is the time to get back out there and join a group fitness class. Not only will you benefit from having a qualified instructor observe your form and technique again, but you’ll also be surrounded by other people who are passionate about your workout.
Are you getting enough rest?
It all comes down to rest and recovery. When we don’t have an adequate sleep, we will struggle to make good choices and feel motivated.Heikki Huovinen, Senior Performance Coach, Hintsa Performance
If you’re suddenly feeling drained of enthusiasm, perhaps it isn’t your passion for exercise that is suffering. A lack of sleep can make everything seem dull and futile. For Heikki Huovinen, a Senior Performance Coach at Hintsa Performance, “it all comes down to rest and recovery. When we don’t have an adequate sleep, we will struggle to make good choices and feel motivated.”
The first thing to do is look at your sleeping patterns over the past weeks. Have you consistently had the quality and quantity of sleep you need regularly? Using Nightly Recharge™ to measure your overnight recovery is an easy way to track your sleep each night, and you can see insights into your previous weeks of sleep on Polar Flow, helping you to gauge precisely how well you have been resting.
So, what can you do if you haven’t been recovering sufficiently? There is an enormous range of influences in our modern life that can cause us to struggle with sleep – from alcohol and the food we eat at night to screen light and air quality in our bedrooms. It’s also essential to learn how to activate our parasympathetic nervous system every evening, calming ourselves after the stresses of everyday life, with calming practices such as sleep meditation.
Do you need new goals?
Can you remember what initially motivated you to start working out? Perhaps you wanted to run a marathon, master a yoga inversion, or simply have a toned set of abs. Now, think about how long ago you achieved this goal. If it was a while ago, perhaps you need something new to work towards.
Set a goal with a ‘when/else’ statement that sets out the context or cue that triggers your behavioral response.Dr. Amanda Rebar, Director of the Motivation of Health Behaviours (MoHB) Lab
Approach exercise in the same way you would with your work. If you completed the goals you had for your job and then just kept on chugging along without creating new ones, you’d eventually (or very quickly) get bored of the daily grind. Refreshing your goals every once in a will help keep you motivated, engaged, and curious about the way you exercise.
Alternatively, if you’ve fallen completely out of habit with your usual fitness regime, then setting an achievement challenge as a goal for yourself may be the wrong way to tackle your lack of motivation. “Set a goal with a ‘when/else’ statement that sets out the context or cue that triggers your behavioral response,” recommends Dr. Amanda Rebar, Director of the Motivation of Health Behaviours (MoHB) Lab. “For example, ‘When I get home from work, I will take the dog for a walk,’ or ‘After I brush my teeth, I will go through my yoga routine.'”
Are you burnout?
If you’ve been pushing your workouts too hard and setting unreasonable expectations for your fitness, then you could be suffering from exercise burnout. Feeling the urge to skip the gym or getting irritable at the thought of doing yet another session are clear signs that you are overdoing it.
You can have high-intensity periods in sports during which you make sacrifices in other areas of life, but after the intensive period, you need to have a proper recovery period.Annastiina Hintsa, Chief Operating Officer, Hintsa Performance
It’s not unusual for athletes to experience exercise burnout, primarily when their sense of identity or actual career depends on how they perform. Annastiina Hintsa, Chief Operating Officer at Hintsa Performance, had first-hand experience of this in her 20s when she blacked out after juggling travel, work, and running marathons.
Annastiina learned that living a high-intensity life wasn’t sustainable. “You can have high-intensity periods in sports during which you make sacrifices in other areas of life, but after the intensive period, you need to have a proper recovery period.” It’s essential to allow your body to return to a ‘normal’ low-intensity state by allowing for proper recovery and creating realistic expectations with your workout schedule.
Do you need a new workout?
Sometimes we can simply lose our passion for our much-loved workout style for no discernable reason. It doesn’t bring us the joy it once did, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising altogether. If your heart isn’t in it, then maybe it’s time for a change.
Maybe it’s time to swap HIIT for boxing, yoga, or even boxing yoga? Perhaps you want to give mountain biking a try if trail running doesn’t give you a kick anymore? Or maybe you now know that variety is the spice of life and need to give cross-training a try?
It’s also important to remember that not only do our tastes change but so do our bodies and their capacity for different forms of exercise. Something that worked for you in your 20s may not be that great for you in your 40s. When it comes to fitness over 50, we need to rethink our approach to enhance our bodies as they age. So, if you have reached this stage of life, then it’s probably time for a new workout that enhances your strength and flexibility without putting too much strain on your joints and nervous system.
How is your mental health?
If your heart isn’t in it, ask yourself: is it only exercise that you’ve lost your passion for? Or are you struggling to feel enthusiastic about other areas of your life too?
When we suddenly lose our zest for life, it can be hard to find the same pleasure from working out as we usually would. Even though exercise can boost our feel-good endorphins, we can still struggle to feel excited about the idea of doing it.
Low motivation has been linked to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Reach out to your friends and family. They can be one of your support – and even the best fitness motivated to get back on track.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.