Why getting started is the hardest part of exercising

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to get started with exercise? Maybe you have not exercised in years and you know that once you start again you will be motivated. Maybe you go regularly, but you always have to give yourself a big pep talk to get started.

Why is getting started the hardest part of exercising?

The fact is, it is not that starting is hard, it is that we make it hard. Starting does not need to be difficult. Unless you are an athlete being driven by a coach, you get to choose what you do for exercise. The problem happens when your brain sets a ‘goal’ of what you will do for exercise that day. That might be based on what you used be able to do, or the idea that you want to make progress so you need to push your body harder than last week. Your brain sets the goal based on the past or the future, but your body is only in the present moment.

Add the fact that chances are you are exercising at a time of day you don’t have tons of energy, such as first thing in the morning or right after work. Your brain is setting the bar based on some ideal of what you ‘should’ do and your body is saying “ugh, I don’t think I can do that right now!”. This is where the struggle happens. Your brains expectations are higher than what your body perceives as possible in that moment. Then it takes a lot of brain energy (AKA Willpower) to overcome this gap between your brain and your body.

What if you had an idea of what you might do, but no expectation of what you had to accomplish? What if you just decided to start exercising and listening to your body to decide what you will do that day? What if you started with what felt comfortable, not at all hard, and increased as your body felt ready?

The fact is, exercise does not need to be hard, painful or uncomfortable to be beneficial for health, well-being – or weight loss!

Starting easy is not a cop out. It will not diminish the benefits in any way. In fact, starting easy helps your body tolerate exercise even better. Starting easy lets your brain and body work together. Most importantly, it creates memories of starting exercise as not hard, but easy. That memory will start to become stronger than all those memories of exercise being hard. Those memories will create an upward spiral of motivation and getting started will become easier. This works with our best understanding of how your brain motivates with less energy.

Give it a try and let me know what happens.

Keep Moving, Be Well,



by | February 19, 2019 · 8:44 pm

2 responses to “Why getting started is the hardest part of exercising

  1. Nancy Donnell

    Excellent article, and spot on!


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