Q & A: Motivation to Exercise Post Deployment

Q & A:  Motivation to Exercise Post Deployment

PTSD Q & A with Dr. Pete

Question: After returning from deployment, I just don’t want to move. I know I should be exercising, but I just can’t work up the gumption to get to the gym. Thoughts?

First let’s address why you don’t want to move or feel as if you can’t move. Is it because you don’t want to experience the bodily arousal of heart racing and shortness of breath that accompanies exercise? Most people with PTSD are reluctant to experience what feels like more stress.[i] Or does it feel as if you are “stuck?” In a mental and physical rut where it feels like you can’t move? This feeling is common in those who struggle with HPA axis dysfunction which is at the root of PTSD. All the statistics in the world about the benefits of exercise won’t motivate you. Why is that?

We think of traumatic experiences being at the root of PTSD, but in the body, those experiences are all interpreted as “signals” to turn on the stress response. After too much stress, or after extended periods of stress, your body and brain constantly engage, but fail to disengage. That’s when the damage starts to happen.

  • The brain experiences low levels of inflammation, causing anxiety and depression.
  • The body is flooded with cortisol—a stress hormone that makes you sick, fat, tired, and old.
  • Your immune system is taxed, and you get sick more often.
  • Your learning and memory capabilities are diminished.
  • Your motivation is sapped because you may be sleep-deprived, emotionally volatile, powerless, hopeless, and sometimes utterly despondent.[ii]
  • You are exhausted from constantly engaging with an unseen enemy without rest in your soul.

Knowing that you need to exercise isn’t motivation enough to get past your “I can’t.” So, what WILL get you past that I can’t? Having an accountability partner who encourages you or exercises alongside you is one way to get and stay motivated. It’s harder to blow off a trip to the gym or a walk in the sunshine when someone is expecting you to be there. Another great tool is found in StressRX®, a unique blend of adaptogenic herbs that treat HPA axis dysfunction and get you past your “I can’t.” When these powerful, ancient, non-addictive herbs bring your body and brain back to that place of rest, then you will find yourself able to move more. When you move more, you will feel less pain. When you feel less pain, you will start to engage more in your life. And when you show up for your life, that is when the miracle of healing happens! To find out more about this simple, but amazing product, visit our website at: www.stressrx.com


[i] https://www.verywellmind.com/exercise-for-ptsd-2797465

[ii] https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2013/12/how-your-brain-develops-motivation-in-ptsd-recovery