why your brain stops you from exercising

Have you ever wonder why some people go to the gym, how do they motivate themselves to get off the couch?

Well, for a lot of people, that seems to be a big problem. They just don’t have that extra motivation for getting themselves into the gym.

To really understand why some people exercise and some people don’t, you have to learn the main reason why you can’t exercise – mental incapacity.

Yes, your brain is the culprit why you are so lazy in doing even the simplest physical activity. That mental block should be corrected if you want to reap the many benefits of exercise.

In psychology, one thing that can help you is behavioral change, which is the key to get you off the couch. So how can you help yourself?

Consider the following tips on how to overcome the mental barrier between being a couch potato and exercise junkie.

Why Your Brain Stops You from Exercising

1. Self-Determination Behaviour

Human behaves mainly in three different psychological needs – autonomy, competence and relatedness with others. The idea that you are able to do a particular job is very important, hence giving you the ability to do it by yourself without any intervention by others.

At different levels of exercise or physical activities, all three or any of these psychological needs could be activated.

However, if one achieves high levels of competency, that person is extremely motivated to do a particular task. So when you start going to the gym, you are confident in your ability to be able to perform at the gym.

Remember that it is not an easy task exercising in the gym. People are intimidating, they know how various machines work, and you don’t. As a beginner, these might be a challenge.

But after awhile, once you get into the habit of going to the gym and you learn more about gym ethics and other things, you start to be rewarded for your efforts.

Why Your Brain Stops You from Exercising

2. Intrinsic Motivation

In an intrinsically motivated behavior is the one driven by internal reward, which can happen after something becomes your “usual” routine, and this won’t take long only less than a month.

Obtaining something rewarding gives you a good feeling, and it ultimately shows your competency. On top of that benefit, it also shows your relatedness to others.

So achieving a 2-inch waistline loss or gaining pounds of muscle mass in your workout routines, that shows your competency, relatedness to others and even autonomy. Why? Because you already know how to do this by yourself, you can do it alone.

So intrinsic motivation is the result of your consistent self-determination, the idea that you are rewarding your body is the strongest achievement that you’re going to get.

Doing and feeling good about things like exercise, yoga or weight lifting, is going to keep you wanting to do those things.

3. Extrinsic Motivation

In contrast, extrinsic motivation is doing something right at the very start, then you get a reward.

It is like playing basketball, you get some points when you score a basket. Or, you achieved the highest score in a particular mobile app such as Candy Crush or Piano Tiles, you rewarded by recognition.

These rewards make you feel good. Rewards such as these will drive you to do more of those things, such as achieving weight loss through dieting or resistance training, and many others.

Extrinsic motivation is the most natural behavior of both human beings and animals.

4. Positive Self-Perception

All the self-determination efforts you do will greatly help in overcoming your potato couch behavior. If you have these strategies and it worked for you in the past, keep using them.

But how can we make exercise easier for ourselves? Here is where positive perception comes in.

Studies suggest that about 50% of people in exercise programs, dropout in the first 2 to 6 months. Why? Because people’ sense of self-perception plays a crucial role in whether or not they will start to exercise in the first place.

Yes, a lot of people go into exercise programs or gym classes and that just is enough to trigger intrinsic motivation. You feel good because you were there with other people and you all do the same thing. That social motivation makes you feel good inside.

But if not, there is still a fraction of extrinsic motivator, which attributes to your sense of assurance that you will get a reward one way or another.

Having a positive self-perception makes you a better thinker that will lead to better results.

For example, when you are enrolling in a gym class or exercise program, you don’t just choose an ordinary class or “usual” workout plan, you should pay for the best class available.

Paying or choosing the best class will get you the best reward, an external reward that makes you feel like you didn’t waste your money when you go to class.

This sounds counterintuitive but most successful workout enthusiasts think and work this way. Spending a little more money for your exercise program as supposed on enrolling the cheapest class, you feel good about doing that program because you feel that it was money well spent.

That is an extrinsic motivation!


All of us know the fact that it is very difficult to get off the couch and start exercise. Most cognitive evaluation studies suggest the aforementioned factors to help you overcome mental incapacities with regards to exercise.

These external factors like rewards, competitions, punishments, feedback and many others can greatly decrease your motivation in some ways.

But these factors can also enhance and undermine the intrinsic motivation feelings you get by just enrolling in a gym class because there is less reward in the beginning.

Negative feelings or self-perception will discourage you more to exercise. Think about possible rewards that you will get, whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic motivation.

Taking energy boosters will help you get motivated physically. These products will help enhance your focus, brain function, energy levels and is suitable as your pre-workout regimen.

It is important that you start exercising where you are most comfortable and gradually you will gain competency, you start to feel better about yourself, intrinsic motivation will be triggered and you’ll end up exercising daily without your brain getting in your way!


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