Exercise Adherence: What motivates you?
It’s February: and by now most people began and ended their New Year’s resolution. So how can you pick up the pieces and begin again or start exercising in the first place? The answer lies in understanding how you are motivated. This requires a bit of self-reflection. But what better time than late winter and early spring to focus inward to make changes.
Research into exercise adherence, frequently uses the lens of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to find what motivates people to persist at exercising.
SDT looks at extrinsic motivation, external motivating factors, such as:
- How well your clothes fit?
- How much do you weigh?
- Compliments from others.
and contrasts this against internal motivation, internal motivating factors, such as:
- How exercise makes you feel?
- Is the exercise something you like?
- Are you motivated by the social aspects of the exercise?
- Do you desire the challenge to exercise?
- Do you feel competent at the specific exercise you chose?
So if you have not yet begun to exercise think about if you are using extrinsic or intrinsic factors to motivate you. I suggest not focusing on the external factors. Rather reflect on the intrinsic factors and think about the following:
- Choose an exercise that makes you feel good. I always used to say I want my student to feel like her body got a working massage after Pilates.
- Do an exercise that you like. People like Pilates for a variety of reasons. If you are injured ideally you can still work out and still feel very safe. In Pilates you have to focus on your movements, like a moving meditation, so it is a break for your mind. You put down your smart phone and step away from life’s constant challenges to focus on your body and your breath. Both of these are popular reasons students enjoy Pilates.
- Choose a teacher you like and work out with other students to motivate you.
- Make sure that you are getting the right challenge for you. If you are using Pilates as post-rehab make sure you feel safe but are still challenging your body and mind. If you are very fit, work towards a constant flow during your session and progress to the advanced Pilates repertoire.
- Finally, with a good teacher, they should be able to teach you proper form and choose the right level of exercises for you so that you feel competent at Pilates. I always love it when a student doesn’t believe he can do an exercise and then all of a sudden you challenge the student and he rocks it!
Good luck choosing the right exercise for you and remember find something that is intrinsically motivating to YOU!