ripples 3Imagine throwing a pebble in a pond, the ripples can run right across the water.

The pebble didn’t cause the ripples though.

You did.

The pebble just sits there waiting to “be moved”

Inertia   n.noun
  1. The tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest or of a body in straight line motion to stay in motion in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force; the resistance of a body to changes in momentum.

  2. Resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change.

Starting exercise takes the most energy doesn’t it?  Once we get going, it activates changes in our body and mind that can make us want to keep going.  We wonder why we didn’t start sooner.

That is, IF the conditions are right.

What sparks us to overcome inertia?  What lowers inertia so getting started is easier?

Some days the spark might be guilt, peer pressure, or an external goal like a work site wellness reward.    Some days it might be about avoiding illness.  Some days it might about simply wanting to feel better.

Our intention, the spark that moves us, matters.  It causes either a draining or enhancing of motivation.

Self criticism, exercising to punish ourselves, competition to gain self-worth, or the “no pain no gain” / all or nothing, / perfectionist attitude – not only drain the health benefits of exercise, they drain motivation for long-term success. Negative or purely external motivators create more inertia.

When we are sparked by positive motivators such as  self-care, health, well-being, moving toward a wellness vision – it improves chemistry in our mind and our body.

And when you add savoring the good feeling after exercise, it heightens the ripple effect, lowering the resistance next time.

For example, you want to be more calm during your day to improve your immunity to workday stress.  You choose to try taking 10 minutes in the morning to stretch and relax your mind and body.  At lunchtime you savor how great you feel – more calm and positive at work, less stressed.  You give yourself a little mental pat on the back – it was a challenge get up earlier and move in the morning – but it was worth it . Each morning, you wake up with a bit less inertia. Each day at work you congratulate yourself and savor the benefits of your simple 10 minute routine.

Before you know it you have established a healthy habit by initiating and savoring – creating an upward spiral of positivity.

Having a positive intention and outcome sparks renewable energizing motivation.

Who doesn’t want more of that kind of renewable energy?

Acknowledge it is just a natural law of physics, the first step IS the hardest.  Inertia can be very strong when it comes to movement. Here is how to lower it:

  1. Choose your pebble:  Focus on what internal rewards you want from exercise in this moment and how it connects it with your wellness vision.
  2. Activate it:  Create a positive experience, choosing an enjoyable environment (place, people, music, etc) and focusing on the good parts of moving, gratitude, etc.
  3. Enjoy the ripples:  Congratulate yourself and savor the rewards for a few moments. This momentary practice helps it stick in your mind as a worthwhile choice and reduces inertia next time.

Be Well,


Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC