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Regular exercise is so good for our bodies and minds, some would even call it “aging in reverse.”

The Mayo Clinic suggests that Americans should aim for at least 30 mins of moderate physical activity each week. Yet how many of us actually achieve that? There are some folks out there, busier than most, who meet these requirements. How do they do it?

Here are some factors that can help you stick with your exercise program.

1. Enjoy it!

Researchers at the University of Rochester provided initial “Motivation for Physical Activity Measure” questionnaires to students signing up at a fitness facility and repeated those questionnaires after each workout for one month. They found that those who initially reported that they enjoyed the activity they were partaking in, adhered to the program, and had longer workouts.

2. Competence/Challenge

The research also found that  students who initially had a goal to pursue a challenge/sport or add a new skill to their repertoire, also stuck to their month-long program. 

3. Be social

This one may not be a surprise – the social atmosphere of an exercise was enough to get students to stick to their month-long fitness. Maybe this is because the people we meet in such environments are like-minded, linked to us by a common thread, and therefore we like them, which further motivates us to keep up with the sport or exercise.

4. Put it in the calendar 

Make time for it. Schedule the 30 minutes just like you would a meeting with your boss or important client. Give this a real try for a week and then re-evaluate at the end of that week and adjust as needed. If it’s in your schedule, you will at least give it a good reminder of your commitment.

Here’s the thing:

The usual motives used to get ourselves in shape: Fat loss, Muscle gains, Maintenance of cardiovascular health, were not as positively associated to adherence or attendance for the gym fitness program in the study.

However, most did include these reasons for joining the gym in the first place. Researchers reasoned that as body-related motives (appearance, health & fitness) were extrinsic in nature, meaning they were used to gain rewards separate from the behaviour itself (exercise), they were not sufficient to drive a person to adhere to a program.

Rather, it was the intrinsic motives such as enjoyment, challenge, and social engagement, that linked to attendance. Intrinsic motives are related to the satisfaction one gains from participating in the activity. And scheduling that activity in your busy week ensures it is set as “important,” and not something you can ignore.

The take-a-way

Although exercise motivation involves much more than the three positive motives mentioned earlier in this article, it is a great start to learning how to get your family, clients, or yourself more active.    

Ensure the exercise program is gradual and suitable for your level. If you run into any trouble (the too-much-too-soon) phenomenon, don’t hesitate to book a physical therapy session with us to learn do’s/don’t and how to return to that exercise program with grace – and STICK it!