If exercise is a need, why don’t I want it?


I was talking with a patient about getting back into regular exercise to help overcome an addiction.  He was saying how he just didn’t feel like exercising.  He knew it would help, understood that the relaxation and feel-good factor afterwards had in recent years been replaced with his drug of choice, and that getting it from a good workout would help kick the habit. 

We mostly live our lives well within the famous “motivational triad” of seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, and using minimum energy to meet our needs.  The vast array of technologies designed to replace human effort are a monument to our ingenuity in finding new ways to be inactive.  We have worked very hard at doing as little as possible. This is laziness on a planet-altering scale. 

Given this, are all our expectations about exercise reasonable?

Perhaps one particular hook we should let ourselves off is the idea that we may feel like doing it. 

Sometimes you find a thought getting clarified as it emerges from your mouth: 

“If you wait until you feel like going to the gym, you may be waiting a long time”

seemed to be the right phrase for the moment.  We laughed and moved on to working out how he could start to create the habits needed to change his life for the better.