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Don't Work Out Too Hard

By +Carolyn Richardson on Aug 07, 2012 09:00 AM in Tips & Updates

Is working out fun for you or is it just a means to an end? If you’re not enjoying exercise you may need to rethink how physical activity fits into your lifestyle. New studies suggest that how you view exercise could determine not only how effective your workouts are, but if you’ll stick to it long term.

Pushing Yourself for the Wrong Reasons

Picture contestants of the Biggest Loser getting screamed at by their personal trainers as they gasp for breath, begging to stop. It makes for good television, but it’s no good for a regular exercise routine. The yelling that usually relates working harder to guilt or improving self-worth. A study published in the Journal of Obesity finds those whose motivation for exercise lies in avoiding self-inflicted guilt or feeling better about themselves, known as introjected motivation, may set them up for failure. 41 runners were tested during a self-paced run. Those with a high level of introjected motivation were found to associate how hard they ran with more satisfaction following a workout. However, the satisfaction those with low introjection had following a workout was not dependent on how hard they worked. This finding suggests the latter group enjoyed the act of physical activity more so than the former group. This is important given that finding intrinsic rewards for exercise is an important requirement for maintaining a workout routine. That is, if you push yourself to the point of punishment, it may be harder to keep up the good work. Your workouts should be challenging most of the time, but not too intense that they have little to no enjoyment. 
The Choice is Yours

Three separate studies were published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. The results found increasing ways to enjoy exercise for its own sake is the way to maintain a regular routine. Many of you may start an exercise regimen to lose weight, but may have found your trips to the gym grind to a halt once weight loss was achieved. Because exercise is essential to maintaining weight loss, after your physical activity slowed down, the pounds may have piled back on. Avoid this trap by finding ways to enjoy exercise apart from its use to help you lose weight. Find physical activity that you can identify with. For example, if you like dance, skip the treadmill and try Zumba or Hip-Hop classes. If you're a competitive person, try joining an adult sports league, or getting a workout buddy. Exercise that feeds the psychological needs of the individual, specifically autonomy, relatedness, and competence should be your focus according to the studies. In each of them, participants were encouraged to make their own choices regarding physical activity, and left to their own devices as to any specific demands or pressures regarding intensity, time of exercise, or specifically prescribed routines. Instead, physical activity was self-initiated and exercise options were given along with classes that helped participants align their values and life goals with health-related behavior.

Bottom Line

The key then to making exercise a regular part of your life is to blaze your own path with a little help from health professionals. Make sure that you are the central figure in determining how you'll go about staying physically active. Consider how your personality, goals, or physical abilities may be affected by a number of different programs and choose one that you most identify with first. If you think you can do it, you will probably follow through. On the other hand, if it seems too hard from the outset, or does not take into consideration your way of doing things, you may find reasons to sabotage efforts or worst get burned out. One of the biggest aspects of becoming an exerciser is finding a sport or exercise that connects with who you are. Are you a runner, a dancer, a basketball player? Find something that validates you and you won't have to work so hard.

Your thoughts...

What strategies have you used to make physical activity a regular part of your healthy routine?


That is my problem I can't always work out I work weird hours.  I am one that works overnight so finding time is hard.  I also have a baby that is almost 2 years old and a 5 year old.  Time is hard to make time for me.  I have the last week worked out in the morning when they are still sleeping but on my nights I work I have to sleep.  I just can't always work out. I have not lost any of the weight from my pregnancy and would like to get back to the 130's.  Anyone work night what do you do?


try alternate training. to start get a kettle bell and some rubber bands. i use a 35lb kettlebell and do 3 sets of 1 arm chest presses, 3 sets of 1 arm rows, 3 sets of sumo squats, 3 sets of 1 arm military presses, 3 sets of curls, 3 sets of tricep extensions, 3 sets setting moving kettlebell from one side of foot to other side of foot to work core and 3 sets of moving kettlebell from1 hand around the back to the other left to right and change to 3 set right to left. i work hard for 60 seconds, rest for 25 seconds (more if needed). the workout takes me 20 to 25 minutes. i am 71 and work part time as a trainer for free with obese folks and seniors. good luck

I think what dap1941 is referring to is INTERVAL training--and he is RIGHT ON.  I love interval training and it's pretty much all I do.  It elevates your heart rate and adds lean muscle mass to your body--both important when it comes to losing weight.  If you have 15 minutes to spare, you can get a great workout in.  And studies show that if you work out in intervals, you'll burn 9 times the amount of fat compared to standard cardio!  Here's one you can try:

Workout # 4




i don't know why insist on calling it alternate training. at least 3 people a day correct me. must br old age. thanks

@dap1941 LOL!  I can see what you're talking about, kind of works like "alternate" training.

Jim ~

I think pushing yourself to the limit is good but not to the point that you're no longer having fun in doing your workouts. As this article/blog says, find an exercise or sports that connects with who you are. Finding the right exercise/program/sport is sure a lot of fun and the next thing you know, you're sweating a lot therefore burning calories in a fun way.

I'm a night shifter and have found what works best for me is working out to videos right after my shift. Loving the turbo fire! Good luck!

I work til 2:30am but go to the gym after work.(not many ppl around which is good)I have trouble sticking to a routine because I just don`t have the energy.

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