Motivation and Physical Activity
Many would agree that physical activity benefits health in many different ways. So why is it so hard for individuals
to participate in daily physical activity to keep themselves healthy??? One of the major underlying reasons for lack of exercise is that people are not motivated!! Whether
self-motivated or motivated by others, finding incentive in exercise helps people get active.
There are many reasons why people lack motivation (Auweele, 1997):
-Exercise is not believed to be an efficient means of achieving important goals
-“I’m healthy enough” attitude
-Assumed negative emotional side-effects of exercise i.e. shame, stress, feeling ridiculous
-Exercise and sports are too risky
-Other activities are more enjoyable and relaxing
-Physical activity takes up too much time
With these assumptions, many people think that the price of exercising isn’t worth the benefits and requires more energy than a person should have to expend.
In actuality though, exercising moderately for 150 minutes a week or vigorously for 75 minutes a week shows significant health benefits. Did you know that if you don’t walk at least 10,000 steps per day you are considered sedentary?? This fact should put life into perspective.
Staying physically active is a challenge, but it can be fun. Two important things to remember are to focus on yourself and find people in your life who support you. It is difficult to remain in an exercise program when you are constantly comparing yourself or are surrounded by negative people.
There are three basic needs for motivation (Deci, 1994):
“People are inherently motivated to feel…”
-Connected to others within a social setting (relatedness)
-To function effectively in that setting (effectance)
-To feel a sense of personal initiative in doing so (autonomy)
In order for people to be motivated, these three basic needs should be met. Rather than using physical activity as a punishment, reward appropriate behaviors such as performance, outcome and effort.
By focusing on more positive aspects of exercise, one is more likely to stay motivated and adhere to the program. Adding the wrong type of punishment may potentially cause a person to associate fear and failure with physical activity.
It may be hard for some to adhere to exercise programs, so here are some ways to stay motivated:
-Set a reasonable goal, achievable goal
-Prepare an exercise program or participate in physical activity that is specific to you
-Tell people what you are trying to accomplish
-Find something that interests you
-Surround yourself with people who support you
-Hold yourself accountable