On a sunny day in May, what is happening in city parks across America?
Children are running about. Some may be flying a kite while others are riding their bicycles. A few might be enjoying the playground equipment. In a designated area, small groups of kids are engaging in competitive sports such as soccer, baseball, or basketball. All of these kids are having fun while being active. It is an essential part of childhood. Activity is not seen as a burden.
On an overcast day in January, children in northern climates might be outside sledding, ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, making snowmen or immersed in a snowball fight.
Once again, outdoor play is part of their daily routine. They are delighted to be participating. In most instances, they made the choice to be active. Over time their skills increase and they feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments. It’s rare to hear moans and groans. Instead, the area is filled with laughter and excitement.
So what happens when children mature into adulthood?
Many of these children lose their motivation to remain active. Other priorities push a fit lifestyle to a second rate position. Any form of exercise is now considered a chore or something that is not viewed as important. Within no time, the former feelings of success associated with exercise have vanished. What was once thought to be engaging and thrilling has lost its luster.
This declining level of activity inevitably leads to a couch potato status.
If you fall into this category ask yourself which of these statements are true.
- I like being active. It is fun and I can measure my success.
- Being fit symbolizes who I am.
- I want to exercise because I see it as a means to an end.
- I feel guilty or ill at ease if I don’t make an effort.
- I will only exercise if I am forced to or receive a reward.
Are you in a rut?
5 Exercise Motivation Tools
- Add a Pleasurable Activity. Can you think of a fun activity that you’d like to reintroduce into your life? Would you enjoy biking, walking or hiking, swimming, or perhaps something else?
- Incorporate Fit Mindset. Set aside a particular time period and make it a habit. Can you add a consistent time slot before work, after work or on the weekend?
- Set Goals. Do you want to fit into a pair of skinny jeans or lose 10 pounds? Do you want to have more stamina and not be winded after being active? How much time will you need to accomplish your goal?
- Use Guilt as Backup Plan. People who maintain a consistent fit lifestyle have mastered the first 3 focus areas. However, if they are on the verge of backsliding, they might fall back on guilt for support. Guilt can temporarily act as a temporary buffer, but it should not be relied upon as the sole motivator.
- Extrinsic Awards. If the first four areas are beyond your grasp, you may need to resort to using a reward system. Can you think of a prize that will encourage you? Keep in mind that if your motivation is tied exclusively to the reward, your desire to exercise may cease after you have the gift. Ideally, motivation needs to come from within rather than an external source.
Thinking about becoming fit is the first step to improving exercise motivation.
Are you willing to move forward by supporting your words with concrete actions?
Do you have a motivation strategy you would like to share?
When Sandy isn’t trekking or writing in the Colorado Rockies, she is traveling. She has visited more than 40 countries and lived as an international teacher in Bangalore, India.
Sandy shares her lifestyle and travel experiences with international and domestic online sites and print media. Her stories have appeared in Hemispheres, Destinations Magazine, KUHL’s Born in the Mountain blog, Grand Magazine, Wandering Educators, Golden Living, One Travel, Miles Away, Canadian Jewish News, Getting On Travel, Far and Wide, Colorado Parent, Traveler Confidential, Family Circle- Momster, and others.
Sandy’s award-winning book, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, is a resource for people contemplating an expat lifestyle and living outside their comfort zone.