Where does motivation come from?
Ever wondered what the key is to healthy eating and exercising regularly?
What is your why when it comes to healthy eating and exercise?
What keeps you going (and attending your 5.30am training sessions when the last thing you want to do is get out of your warm bed in the middle of winter to be harassed (oops motivated, by your PT) ?
Despite what you may think, the key isn't to find your inner enforcer; it's about tapping into your motivation. Motivation means to be moved to do something, and refers to all those factors that initiate, energize and sustain our behavior. In simple terms, motivation is what drives our behavior and actions. When it comes to our exercise and eating habits, motivation is a key driver in change and in forming regular exercise habits.
People differ not only in how motivated the are but also in the type of motivation they have. That is to say, there are two types of motivation; intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is when someone performs an activity because they are inherently interested in it, enjoy it and personally value the outcome (i.e. they are motivated by internal factors), while extrinsic motivation is when someone engages in an activity because of reasons outside of themselves, such as to win a competition or pressure from family or friends (i.e. external factors). So which type of motivation should we foster to keep us on track and motivated to exercise regularly? The answer is both.
Research has shown that intrinsic motivation is what really keeps us sticking to a regular exercise regime in the long run, however short term (especially at the beginning of a new exercise or training plan, such as when you join a gym or start training for a new event) extrinsic forms of motivation can really energize us and keep us moving towards our goal.
So what does this mean for the regular person who wants to know how to stay motivated to exercise on a regular basis? It means that to really stay motivated to exercise, we need to find both intrinsic and extrinsic forms of motivation. And how does one do that? To foster extrinsic motivation, sign up for a race or challenge yourself with a new exercise program to keep things fresh and interesting. This will keep you motivated to exercise in the short term. For example, if Tom signs up to a race such as Tough Mudder, it will most likely keep Tom motivated to attend his 6am training sessions so that he doesn't feel unprepared on the day of the event.
To foster intrinsic motivation (which has the greatest potential to create an ongoing and consistent exercise behavior), you need to find a way to make exercise fun and enjoyable and valuable to you. Train with a friend, see a personal trainer, take a class, engage in a sport…basically do something you enjoy, have fun doing and get a sense of satisfaction from. That way, you'll be more likely to actually WANT and look forward to exercise as a form of enjoyment, stress relief and something you gain real personal satisfaction and a sense of achievement from. To do this, Tom might take up running, something he has always wanted to do but felt he could not do or achieve. Even though he may struggle during some runs, the enjoyment he gets out of running and the personal satisfaction he feels after each run is what keeps Tom motivated to lace up his runners each and every time.
So to sum things up, motivation is a key part of the puzzle when it comes to forming regular exercise habits that keep us healthy. It's the driving force or the "why" behind why we actually engage in exercise consistently and the more we can foster it on a day-to-day basis, the more likely we are to actually WANT to engage in and actually enjoy exercise. Find an exercise you enjoy, train with a friend or a Vision Personal Trainer! Sign up for events and make it FUN!
Yours in health & fitness,
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.