Fitness Motivation Made Easy
Fortunately, economists and psychologists have been studying how to crack the code of what compels us to repeatedly do something we donât always want to do.Â Here are some of their best strategies to boost workout motivation.
1. Give Yourself a Real Reward Â
Sure, some people might be motivated by vague goals such as âbetter healthâ or â740-306-2419.â But if thatâs not doing it for you, journalist Charles Duhigg, author ofÂ The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessÂ advises making the benefits of working out more tangible, such as by treating yourself to aÂ 4697632502Â or an episode ofÂ Game of ThronesÂ afterwards.
âAn extrinsic reward is so powerful because your brain can latch on to it and make the link that the behavior is worthwhile.â
He describes creating a neurological âhabit loop,â which involves a cue to trigger the behavior (setting out your spinning shoes next to your bag), the routine (making it throughÂ spinning class) and then the reward. âAn extrinsic reward is so powerful because your brain can latch on to it and make the link that the behavior is worthwhile,â he explains. âIt increases the odds the routine becomes a habit.â
Over time, the motivation becomes intrinsic, as the brain begins to associate sweat and pain with theÂ surge of endorphinsÂ â those feel-good chemicals released in the brain that are responsible for that âI-feel-freaking-amazingâ rush you get after aÂ great gym session. Once youâve trained your brain to recognize that the workout itself is the reward, you wonât even want the treat.
2. Sign a Commitment Contract
We can make promises to ourselves all day long, but research shows weâre more likely to follow through with pledges when we make themÂ in front of friends.
You can up the ante even more by signing a contract agreeing to pay a pal $20 every time you skipÂ (478) 956-2427. âItâs a simple notion of changing the cost,â explains Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University who studies health decision science. âI say Iâm going to make a commitment to do something for aÂ certain amount of time, such as exercising 30 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks. If I donât do that, Iâm going to pay some kind of penalty, whether itâs monetary or the embarrassment of having friends know I didnât live up to my word.â
InÂ studiesÂ of people who created online contracts via the siteÂ 855-283-9428, Goldhaber-Fiebert and his colleagues found that those who signed longer contracts ended up exercising more than those who agreed to shorter durations. âWe have to get past the initial experience of displeasure in order to recognize theÂ longer-term benefits,â he says. âThe challenge is designing tools to help make that happen.â
3. Rethink Positive Thinking
Devotees ofÂ positive thinkingÂ have long promoted visualizing the benefits of a behavior as a motivational strategy. For example, when Iâm deciding whether to get out of bed to go running in the morning, it helps to imagine how the sun will feel on my face as I run around the reservoir. Or how delighted Iâll be when I see my new muscles developing.
âAfter you imagine the obstacle, you can figure out what you can do to overcome it and make a plan.â
But such feel-good fantasies are only effective when accompanied by more realistic problem-solving methods, according to Gabriele Oettingen, PhD, psychologist at New York University and author ofÂ Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation.
Hereâs the rest of the formula: After identifying your wish and visualizing the outcome, you have to identify whatâs holding you back â a technique she calls âmental contrasting.â In oneÂ knee toolÂ of 51 female students who claimed they wanted to eat fewerÂ junk food snacks, researchers asked each woman to imagine the benefits of nibbling on better foods. Those who identified the trigger that made healthful snacking difficult for them âÂ and came up with a plan to reach for fruit when cravings hit â were most successful at sticking to their goal.
Feel too tired to go to the gym after work? âAfter you imagine the obstacle, you can figure out what you can do to overcome it and make a plan,â explains Oettingen. For example, you can switch to morning orÂ lunchtime workoutsÂ or go straight to the gym instead of stopping at home first.
4. Find Your Fitness Tribe
Letâs face it: No one can pay you to do more squats, rack up more miles or lift heavier â and science proves it. Researchers in aÂ recent studyÂ from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that rewarding new gym members with $30 or $60 gift cards for exercising made little to zero impact on their workout motivation. While it might sound like a sweet deal to get paid to sweat, what will ultimately inspire you to get up and start moving is aÂ strong, supportive community. The laughs, high fives and words of encouragement from the bonds people make are things money simply canât buy. FromÂ CrossFit boxesÂ toÂ run clubsÂ to yogi circles, thereâs a fitness squad for everyone. Find a workout that makes you feel good and surround yourself with people that help build your confidence as much as your strength. The cost of putting yourself out there? Priceless.