Building Motivation

Motivation is a significant factor in the decision to exercise. Without motivation, regular exercise will likely not occur. What is motivation and how can we motivate ourselves to exercise?

There are two types of motivations – extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation means that you’re are engaging in an activity or behavior because you are getting something in return.

Intrinsic motivation results from doing something without external reward. It means in engaging in an activity or behavior because its enjoyable, intriguing or it brings fulfillment in some way.

Prevailing motivation theory indicates that our motivations are based on our needs and what drives us. For example, we are motivated to pursue food and drink so we can live and be healthy. We also have psychological needs such as competence, autonomy and relatedness. In addition to these psychological needs, we have a desire to pursue things that we enjoy or that are challenging or that provide fulfillment, even if they offer no outside reward.  These are factors that speak to or offer us:

  • Challenge – that provides for continual learning, development and growth
  • Control – allows us to make decisions that affect outcomes and our future
  • Recognition – that offers recognition and appreciation for our efforts
  • Cooperation and Collaboration – so we can be in community and agreement with others
  • Competition – to challenge and increase our skills in areas that we desire
  • Curiosity – that challenges us to continue learning, developing and experiencing

How can we find our intrinsic motivation? When making decisions to engage in any activity or experience:

  • Look for activities and experiences that are fun. Or consider how you can make an activity fun for you
  • Consider the meaning of the activity or experience. What is the purpose of it? What value can you bring? How can you help others through doing it?
  • What goal can you achieve by engaging in this task or activity? How will it challenge you and what can you accomplish?
  • How will the task or experience help others? What connections can you build through the experience?
  • What sense of pride or accomplishment will come from this activity or experience?

A part of exercise is maintaining motivation to be active. As you challenge yourself to stay motivated to exercise, consider the challenge of doing new activities. What can you learn about yourself when you challenge yourself in new ways? What activities do you enjoy and how can you incorporate those activities into your daily or weekly routine? How can you inspire others with your goals?

Are you curious about how you can develop intrinsic motivation to keep you focused on your goals? Schedule a complimentary 30 minute session so we can talk more.


Healthline. (2019, July). Intrinsic Motivation: How to Pick Up Healthy Motivation Techniques. Retrieved from Healthline: