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How to find motivation to start exercising?

The past few years may have been challenging in terms of physical activity. Almost all indoors hobby options were shut down several times, meeting other people was a risk, and in addition, both studies and work took place remotely for the most part. The amount of daily physical activity decreased and exercising at home and outdoors became the only options. No wonder if you have given up on regular exercise. How do you build a more physically active life again?

Our motivation is strongly influenced by:

  • meaningful activities
  • setting goals and
  • achieving them.

Freedom of action and choice are aspects that were obvious to all of us before the pandemic. So how do you find motivation to do your own thing again?

Internal motivation is divided into three basic factors:

  • ability
  • autonomy and
  • communality.

Ask yourself:

1. What is important to me?

Think about what you are aiming for and what is your most important reason for exercising.

Maybe you’re curious about new challenges or sports? Maybe you want to challenge your own body? Maybe you suffer from some problems that exercise could improve or want to take care of your health and cope better? Perhaps you want to meet people or dream of a marathon? Or maybe you’d just like a new hobby. There is no right answer. Think about and structure the path to achieving your goal and follow the route that motivates you the most. If necessary, ask for help from a coach.

2. How do I want to exercise?

Physical activity produces undisputed health benefits. It means that all of us should exercise. Think about whether you enjoy developing your skills, doing something together, nature or something else in particular? You’re the best expert on yourself. Depending on your answer, possible sport choices include dance or martial arts, group exercise, swimming, skiing or gym training. Perhaps none of the above, or perhaps all of them.

When selecting your sport, consider especially its meaningfulness and versatility. Try it out boldly and accept the reality if something feels terrible for you. Try something else.

Many residential areas and student organisations also have their own playful “höntsä” teams: look into them. Choose a level that suits you to stay interested and avoid unnecessary frustration. Everyone is welcome to the gym, from newcomers to Olympic-level athletes. Remember that personal trainers are available to everyone at the UniSport gym during guidance and consultation hours.

3. What is stopping me?

Most people blame being busy and the lack of time. However, we all have the opportunity to influence our choices and schedules. Of course, our schedules include necessary engagements, but there is also plenty of room for prioritisation.

Do you prioritise yourself enough? Physical activity is an investment in your well-being, the value of which cannot be measured. Remember, there’s not just one way to exercise.

Bicycle commuting and going to meetings on foot can be integrated into a busier everyday life. Spending time with friends and family can also include exercise. However, you will need time to exercise: you should create time for it in your schedule. Once you have created a plan, it is time to enter the implementation phase. Be realistic: you can get excited, but you should always be reasonable. Gradually increase the amount of physical activity to avoid unnecessary illness and injury. When you start something new, don’t expect to be perfect, as learning and change require time. If you have set yourself a stretch goal, it will also require patience. We all fail regularly at something. You can accept it, and it is okay. Instead of giving up, you can always try again.

It is also an advantage if you can laugh at yourself – exercise doesn’t have to be super serious!


Sonetta Harjanne, Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor at UniSport