Exercise Right Week – Motivation to Move!

Jarrod Wilson (Exercise Physiologist – Burnie)

EXERCISE… We know how good it is for us: for our heart; lungs; muscles; joints; bones; to control weight; for stress, and to improve our mood… the list goes on!

On the contrary we know physical inactivity, or simply not getting enough exercise, has been strongly linked to developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancers, resulting in illness and/or premature death. Physical inactivity is now recognised as the fourth leading cause of death worldwide due to non-communicable disease. There are now more people in the world who are physically inactive than those that smoke.

So with this knowledge why then is a large percentage of the population not sufficiently active when it comes to meeting the minimum guidelines for exercise? We’re beginning to realise that being aware of the healthy benefits of physical activity and the adverse risks of inactivity may not be enough.

This year’s Exercise Right Week is focusing on ‘Motivation to Move’, an initiative to get more people active by looking at ways to become more motivated to exercise on a regular basis.

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What the Research Says About Motivation

When we look at motivation to exercise, we need to address the psychology of how the brain processes information in relation to physical activity. Research shows that people are generally more motivated to exercise if they see or feel immediate positive effects from exercising, e.g. feeling happy, revitalised or finding enjoyment and satisfaction from being active. When there is a positive experience associated with exercise, there is an increased chance of repeating the type of exercise that led to that positive experience.

As an ‘unhealthy’ comparison, take eating chocolate as an example. The immediate effects of eating chocolate (for most people) include feelings of happiness, pleasure and satisfaction. Unsurprisingly when you eat something that you get positive reinforcement from regularly, there is a higher chance of eating more and more of it!

To improve motivation to exercise more regularly we have to do much the same; that is find a particular exercise that brings us positive feelings/emotions. We will then have a higher chance of repeating the actions and efforts that brought about a change in how we felt!

Extrinsic Vs Intrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation refers to a behaviour that is driven by external rewards such as money, fame, praise and reinforcement from an external source. With respect to exercise goals and patterns, someone who is extrinsically motivated will exercise because they’re told to or because they want to reduce their weight on the scales and are less likely to find enjoyment in the exercise that leads to external results (weight loss, rewards or reinforcement from other people, etc.).

Intrinsic motivation refers to a behaviour that is driven by internal rewards such as personal satisfaction or enjoyment from completing a task.

Someone who is intrinsically motivated with exercise finds greater enjoyment in exercising, perceives exercise as a challenge and are driven by how exercise makes them feel. They take pride in achieving exercise goals. They are less likely to focus on external results such as weight loss or satisfying someone else’s needs.

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Possessing intrinsic motivation is unsurprisingly more favourable when making attempts to remain compliant with an exercise routine long term.

Tips for Improving Motivation to Exercise

  • Motivation for exercise differs from individual to individual. There is NOT a ‘one size fits all’ approach to exercise. Find something YOU like or take interest in and pursue it! It may be a class/group, a social outing, walking the dog, catching up with family or becoming involved in a sport or active hobby.
  • Make physical activity/exercise fun and enjoyable. You cannot expect to remain motivated with an exercise plan if you dislike what it is you’re doing, e.g. if you don’t enjoy walking on a treadmill because you find it boring, discover something else! It is amazing how different you will feel during and after a walk if you walk for ‘fun’ and not for ‘exercise’.
  • If you have children involve them in active hobbies/sports and actively participate in what they do!
  • Walk with a dog, a friend or any companion that will help to side-track you from the fact you’re exercising.
  • Eat well – a well-balanced, nutritious diet (veggies, fruit, meat, grains, etc.) is needed to make you feel revitalised, full of energy and helps to prevent fatigue and mood swings. This in turn can create a lifestyle where motivation to exercise is easier to find.
  • Incorporate exercise into your lifestyle and overcome any barriers (illness, pain, stress and other commitments will crop up from time to time). A motivated individual will not let these factors interfere with their capacity to exercise on a regular basis.
  • Set small, short term goals to work towards and review them regularly. Work together with someone else (husband/wife, friend, work-mate) to assist in achieving whatever goals you set.
  • Don’t expect improvements to come overnight. Starting out with an exercise regime is the toughest period, both physically and mentally (with motivation often hard to find). As you get fitter, stronger and feel better about yourself, improvements will come with motivation too!
  • Lastly, if you need assistance see a professional (e.g. an Exercise Physiologist) who can guide you through ways to become more motivated and who will also teach you how to EXERCISE RIGHT!

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How an Exercise Physiologist Can Help

Our Exercise Physiologists Simon West and Jarrod Wilson, who are both at our Burnie clinic, are highly qualified to work with those who find it difficult to exercise regularly, those that don’t know where to start with an exercise program or simply aren’t motivated with physical activity. They also have a wealth of experience working with people who have underlying health conditions (Diabetes, Obesity, Chronic Pain, etc.) or who in the past have found it hard to exercise for any undisclosed reason.

An Exercise Physiologist can teach you how to exercise with a safe and correct technique so you can get the most out of each time you exercise.

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For more information, visit http://exerciseright.com.au/ and begin ‘exercising right’ today.

References

1 Blair, S 2009, ‘Physical inactivity: the biggest public health problem of the 21st century’, British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 43, pp. 1-2.

2 Author unknown, ‘EIM Blog’, viewed 25 November 2016, <http://exerciseismedicine.com.au/eimblog/>

Cowan, RE 2016, ‘Exercise is medicine initiative: physical activity as a vital sign and prescription in adult rehabilitation practice’, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, vol. 97, no. 9, pp. 232-7.

Bandura, A 2004, ‘Health promotion by social cognitive means’, Health Education and Behaviour, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 143-164.

Segar, ML, et. al. 2016, ‘From vital sign to vitality: selling exercise so patients want to buy it’, Translational Journal of the ACSM, vol. 1, no. 11, pp. 97-102.

Segar, ML & Richardson CR 2014, ‘Prescribing pleasure and meaning: cultivating walking motivation and maintenance’, Amer Journal of Prev Med, vol. 47, no. 6, pp. 838-41.

Carey MP, Kalra DL, Carey KB, Halperin S, Richards CS 1993, ‘Stress and unaided smoking cessation: a prospective investigation’, J Consult Clin Psychol, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 831-8.