Who can get rid of laziness by exercising

Inspiration is the spark that ignites the engine of our actions. It’s the cerebral equivalent of the Big Bang, that initial push that propels us to do things, for example, get up off the couch. But we all know that it’s easier to get off the couch and walk to the fridge and grab a beer than to put on your sneakers and work out. What is happening inside our brains when we are motivated by some things and not by others? And, above all, how can we motivate ourselves to do things we don’t feel like doing, like sports?

The two-minute rule for starting new habits


Inspiration is the star of many self-help books and self-improvement courses. What is this suitability Not leaving seems like it’s an experience that is both spiritual and communal. For example, CrossFit classes may automatically seem more motivating than lifting weights and joining a fitness club. run This may be more motivating than a walk in the park with music playing on your headphones.

However, in the brain, everything is chemistry. Motivation is a complex process that results from the interaction of various brain systems, particularly the prefrontal cortex, the basal ganglia, and the limbic system, which includes the amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamus. This is the contribution of each of these areas of the brain:

  • Prefrontal cortex: This part of the brain is important for decision making, planning, and goal-directed behavior, all of which are important for motivation. It helps to assess the potential rewards and consequences of actions, and where ultimately the decision to act (or not) is made.
  • Basal ganglia: These structures are involved in habit formation and learning processes, which can influence our motivations. The nucleus accumbens, which is part of the basal ganglia, is the main site related to reward in the brain.
  • Limbic System: The amygdala is known as the seat of fear and aggression in the brain, but it does much more. It is involved in the processing of emotions, which can affect motivation. The hippocampus is involved in the formation of memories, which can influence motivation based on past experiences. The hypothalamus is involved in motivational processes related to basic physiological needs such as hunger and thirst.

All this cerebral orchestra is controlled by dopamine. However, when this neuromodulator (so-called because it affects other neurotransmitters) was discovered, it was thought to be a “pleasure molecule” because its levels increased when certain drugs were taken. Today it is known that there is much more of it, and it is already called the “motivation molecule”, because this is its fundamental role, as explained very well in the book dopamine (Peninsula Edition) Psychiatrists Daniel Z. by Lieberman and Michael E. Long.

Dopamine is produced in several areas of the brain, such as the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the substantia nigra. From there, it is sent to other parts of the brain via two main pathways: the mesolimbic pathway, which travels to the nucleus accumbens, is stored in the basal ganglia and is involved in reward-related motivation, in which the release of dopamine is a Indicates a pleasant experience. , The other pathway, the mesocortical pathway, connects to the prefrontal cortex and is involved in decision-making processes related to cognitive control and motivation.

When we see a potential reward, our brain weighs the value of the reward against the effort required to obtain it. If the reward is perceived as meaningful, the prefrontal cortex initiates behavior aimed at obtaining it. If we think, for example, about craving chocolate with churros, dopamine starts to be released just by thinking about them. Our memories of other times that we have taken them are activated in the hypothalamus. Dopamine is what controls planning in the prefrontal cortex, and what ultimately drives us to go to the chocolate shop. When we finally put the chocolate churro in our mouth, dopamine creates a pleasurable feeling as a reward.

In addition to dopamine, other neurotransmitters and hormones, such as serotonin, adrenaline, and endorphins, are also involved in motivation. For example, serotonin is associated with mood regulation, and low serotonin levels are associated with decreased motivation in people with depression. All these systems work together to form the basis of motivation.

But surprise, it’s not the only thing motivating you to exercise.

motivation is only part

There are several strategies to get our brain to generate more dopamine when we need motivation to exercise, using the circuits we mentioned earlier. These are the ones that may be of use to you:

  1. Set realistic and achievable goals. The brain is like a child: If you promise it a big gift, it can get impatient and frustrated if it doesn’t come soon. It is better to give frequent small rewards. Set small, achievable goals so that every time you achieve them, your brain releases dopamine and you feel motivated to keep going. For example, it’s more realistic to think that you’re going to run for ten minutes every day than to run for an hour and spend the rest of the week recovering.
  2. Make exercise fun: Play is an essential part of cognitive processes, and when we take it away, the brain suffers. If exercise seems boring, try something new: dancing, jumping rope, using machines you’ve never used, running with other people, or new yoga poses.
  3. Find company. Exercising with someone else can be a powerful motivator, encouraging others to keep going and giving you a sense of competition that can be off-putting to some people. According to a study by the American Osteopathic Association, people who exercise in a group or with a partner are more motivated.
  4. Visualize Your Accomplishments: Our brains are experts at projecting or “pretending” the future. When you visualize your achievements, your brain produces dopamine as if you have actually achieved your goal. It is advised that you close your eyes and imagine how you will feel after that run or that gym session. Not only will this motivate you to get started, but it will also help you move forward.
  5. Celebrate your achievements. No matter how small your accomplishment: a push-up, a walk around the block; If it’s more than your yesterday, celebrate it. The brain loves rewards and if you can imagine that there is a reward behind every effort, even a small one, you will be more motivated the next time. It is similar to when a child is praised for his achievements, but in this case we give it to ourselves. For example, you can celebrate the fact that you exercised by watching an episode of your favorite series. But be careful: Celebrating with cake can be counterproductive.

That being said, motivation can be a powerful catalyst for starting a new behavior, such as starting an exercise routine. However, motivation can be short-lived and unstable, ebbing and flowing with mood, stress, and other factors. So that the exercise does not flash in the pan, it is necessary to make it a habit.

Habits are like highways in the brain: well-maintained pathways that allow us to perform tasks using a minimum of mental energy. When a behavior becomes a habit, it is as if our brain goes on automatic pilot. We usually don’t need to motivate ourselves to brush our teeth or shower, because we’ve automated those behaviors. The same can be done with physical exercise. These are the strategies you need:

  • Establish a clear routine: Regularity is the key to habits. Try to exercise at the same time every day so that it becomes an established part of your daily routine, like drinking coffee or brushing your teeth.
  • Start with one step: Consistency is more important than big efforts. People who exercise every day, even if only slightly, get better results than those who exercise intermittently, even if they do more. Apply the two-minute rule: Better two minutes than none.
  • Use visual cues: If you walk past the kitchen and there’s a bag of chips, this becomes a cue that subconsciously prompts you to eat them. Do the same with exercise: If you exercise in the morning, leave your sneakers in sight or at the foot of the bed. Keep gym bags by the door, or get ready for a workout.
  • If you fail, don’t give up: one mistake in your routine can seem like an excuse to quit altogether, what’s the so-called Hell effect, but don’t falter and instead of blaming yourself, just do it the next day.
  • Hold on to long-term rewards: Motivation is often fueled by immediate rewards, whereas habits are formed through long-term rewards. Regular exercise may not provide immediate gratification, but the long-term health benefits are significant and should be measured, for example by taking pictures of yourself every day and checking for positive changes in your body.

While motivation can be helpful in starting a new behavior, habits are the key to sustaining it long term. Think of motivation as the starter motor of a car, which is used to propel the first few meters forward, while habits are the engine that keeps you on the journey.

*Dario Pescador is editor and director of the magazine KUO and author of the book your best self Posted by oberon.

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