Why do some people find exercise harder to commit to than others and what can you do if this is you?
Anna Langridge from Wellbody Health & Fitness digs deep into the psychology of exercise and what motivates people long term. Are you one of those that struggle to stay on the fitness pathway?
Most of us are not happy where we find our health & fitness following the Christmas period, and most want to do something about it, this comes easy for some and for others, it’s very challenging. Why is that?
Yes, the time of the year does not help anyone but it is likely there are a number of deeper behavioural things happening we should be conscious of.
There are lots of psychological theories out there on why we do what we do, and how to intervene to make changes to our habits and behaviours. I am not a psychologist but I do like to one theory it’s called the ‘Behaviour Change Wheel’.
In this theory, there are three components that influence our behaviour to change.
Each of us needs to have the capability on a physical and psychological level to act. In other words, your body needs to be capable of exercise and your mind should be in the right place to know you need to change. So listen to your body and know what you are capable of today. To start out, walk, swim or cycle for 30 minutes 2-3 times a week. You can set yourself small time increments each week to slowly increase your fitness. Build up slowly and you stand a better chance of long term success.
Our desire to engage in healthy moments has to be stronger than the motivation to engage in unhealthy moments. Motivation comes from something that is personally a reward to you. This might be the feeling of being fitter. Equally, it also comes from doing something you want to earn a reward for, or avoid a health outcome i.e. someone noticing you have lost weight or being told by the doctor you are at risk of illness if you don’t exercise. Motivation tends to be easier in January as we tend to be sick of over indulging in the unhealthy moments, but this feeling is sometimes short-lived so requires discipline later on in the month of January to keep going. One other important thing to consider for motivation is having the knowledge and skills to know what to do. This is why I would always recommend Personal Trainers and group exercise classes. A good Personal Trainer will firstly understand your capability, keep you safe, plan achievable goals, inspire you to exercise and educate you on the way.
Do we have the right physical environment that we live and work in, as well as the right social environment i.e. Friends Co-workers, family – how those interact to make it easier or more difficult to make a change. In other words, making a change is easier to do when you have the support of your friends and family, you have somewhere to exercise and the time put aside to do this. My recommendation would be to announce your plan to your family and close friends, asking them for your support. Also, identify a certain day and time you will exercise, put it in your diary for the next 6 weeks and ask a friend with similar capabilities to join you.
So what can you do today? Simply write down the answers to these six questions and place the answers somewhere you will see it each morning to remind and inspire you:
From a scale of 1 to 10 – How much do i want to make a change?
1 being – no need, 10 being – fed up with feeling the way I do.
What exercise do I prefer and what is my capability in that exercise today?
What is my goal?
Name one change in my nutrition I will make tomorrow?
Who am I going to ask for support from?
Friends, family, colleagues or a fitness professional?
Who will I tell that I am making this change?
Lastly, making a change should not be seen as something short term, so make sure that any change you make will not put you into shock, you have time, change is continuous. Celebrate the small wins and good Luck.