By Athlete's Care on February 16, 2023
Regular exercise is so positive for our bodies and minds, some would even call it “aging in reverse.”
Canada’s Physical Activity Guide recommends 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week. Yet how many of us actually achieve that? There are some folks out there, busier than most, who meet these requirements. How do they do it? The research says they may have these initial motivating factors as their purpose for starting exercise programs. These factors help them stay on the metaphorical "wagon," and attend their planned sweat session.
Researchers at the University of Rochester provided initial "Motivation for Physical Activity Measure" questionnaires to students signing up at a fitness facility, and repeated those questionnaires after each workout for one month. They found that those who initially reported that they enjoyed the activity they were partaking in, adhered to the program, and had longer workouts!
Interestingly, students who initially had an itch to pursue a challenge/sport or add a new skill to their repertoire, also stuck to their month-long program.
This one is not a surprise - the social atmosphere of an exercise was enough to get students to stick to their month-long fitness. Perhaps the people we meet in such environments are like-minded, linked to us by a common thread, and therefore we like them, pushing us to attend. Or that we'd not just be letting ourselves down if we stopped attending, we'd be letting them down too! Birds of a feather do flock together…
To start, make a detailed schedule of your week and physically write or type in the 30 minutes you have to exercise, 2 or 3 times (realistically). Try not to schedule it during traditionally busy times, as when you’re doing dinner prep, or putting the kids to bed. Reevaluate at the end of that week and adjust as needed. If it’s in your schedule, you will at least give it a good look.
The Shocker: The usual motives used to get ourselves in shape: Fat loss, Muscle gains, Maintenance of cardiovascular health, were not as positively associated to adherence or attendance for the gym fitness program in the study. However, most did include these reasons for joining the gym in the first place. Researchers reasoned that as body-related motives (appearance, health & fitness) were extrinsic in nature, meaning they were used to gain rewards separate from the behaviour itself (exercise), they were not sufficient to drive a person to adhere to a program. Rather, it was the intrinsic motives such as enjoyment, challenge, and social engagement, that linked to attendance. Intrinsic motives are related to the satisfaction one gains from participating in the activity. And scheduling that activity in your busy week ensures it is set as “important,” and not something you can ignore.
Although exercise motivation is multifaceted and involves much more than the 3 positive motives above, it is a great start to learning how to get your family, clients, or yourself more active. If you want to lose weight, or lower your high blood pressure (both body-related, extrinsic motives), choose an activity that you like, for example, tennis (enjoyment); make it fun by grabbing a tennis partner (social), and get excited to knowing you'll be learning a new skill (an overhand serve). Then schedule it in your calendar to boost its importance in your week. Try it, and you'll be happy you did.
Ensure the exercise program is gradual and suitable for your level. If you run into any trouble (the too-much-too-soon) phenomenon, don’t hesitate to book a chiropractic session to learn do’s/don’t and how to return to that exercise program with grace - and STICK it!