How to Gain Motivation to Exercise


Various strategies are available that may motivate us to exercise. Predicting the precise motive that will stimulate a specific individual to exercise, how­ever, remains elusive. The following are practical suggestions to help people begin and continue an exercise program. Not every suggestion will appeal to every person. Still, one or more of these ideas might stimulate you toward a lifestyle that includes exercise.

1. Select the social contexts that are most supportive. People can choose where and with whom they will exercise. Whether to exercise alone or with others depends upon one’s preference, personality, exercise needs and goals, and compatibility with other exercisers. Evidence is available to support both approaches, and each has advantages.

Attractive features of the group approach include camaraderie, the possibility of developing productive social relationships with other group members, cooperation, competition, and reinforcement. The social support received from the group, particularly during the early weeks of a beginner’s program, enhances compliance.

Other people find that the individual approach to exercise is best for them. A 1 -year study of older men and women showed that an individual home-based exercise program was more effective than a group program in promoting their adherence to exer­cise. The researchers found that the group exercise program was too inconvenient over the course of the year. Convenience and accessibility of the exercise facility affected adherence to the group program. Unless these two factors are resolved satisfactorily, the independent approach might be best for that population as a whole.

2. Exercise with a buddy. Two people with similar training routines and compatible levels of physical fit­ness can provide motivational support for each other. Buddies can exchange knowledge about fitness training, nutrition, and a host of other topics of common interest to them. A bonus of the buddy system is that it becomes more difficult to skip a workout—even when the person would rather do something else—when someone is waiting at a designated time and place.

3. Enlist the support of those who are important to you. Friends, mates, other family members, and co­workers—people with whom you interact frequently and whose advice you value—can be important sources of motivation, encouragement, and reinforcement. These people provide support by projecting a favorable attitude toward your exercising. A number of studies have shown that spousal support is particularly influ­ential. Occasionally working out with a new exerciser also helps.

4. Associate with other exercisers. The support that others provide is more effective when they themselves are exercisers. As such, they function as role models. When people exercise together, their enthusiasm is highly visible and contagious. Walkers and joggers are eager to talk about their knowledge and experiences, and in this way participants will gain new ideas and techniques that will help to motivate them to continue their exercise program.

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About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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