Why do you exercise? To lose weight and get fit? Burn fat? Build muscle? Or just to be healthier? These are some of the most common reasons that people exercise, but surprisingly these 'whys' are not the best reasons to exercise if you want to achieve your goals.
Dr Segar, a psychologist who helps people form and maintain regular exercise habits, found that using exercise as a means of preventing disease, promoting weight loss and generally improving health was not a good enough reason for people to make it a priority in their lives.
Instead she and other experts in her field have found that what's more motivational is to think of exercise as a source of immediate reward, ie improved mood, lower stress levels and more energy.
Think about the last time you worked out , how did you feel before vs after? If you are like most people, the feeling of energy, satisfaction, confidence (and generally feeling like you've had a bit of a life boost!) is pretty amazing and fairly instant.
As Dr Segar suggests, the key to getting, and more importantly, staying active is reframing the way that you think about exercise. When we begin to recognize exercise as a postive and rewarding experience, it becomes something we do because we choose to rather than we need to.
There's also studies to back up this way of thinking. In a study of office workers, David K. Ingledew and David Markland, psychologists at the University of Wales, found that while many people began exercising as a means of losing weight and improving their appearance, these motivations did not keep them exercising in the long term. The researchers concluded that instead more emphasis should be put upon the enjoyment and positive wellbeing effects of exercise.
It may seem ironic but working out for the short term feel good factor can actually mean you get more of the benefit from weight loss and health benefits etc as you will create long term healthy habits.
So next time you think about exercising don't focus on your body, size, shape, weight, or even health, just focus on how you feel now and how awesome you will feel afterwards!