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Each week on TestTubePlus, we pick one topic and cover it from multiple angles. This week's subject is health and fitness. Why is it so hard to stay fit? What motivates some of us? How much does genetics play a part in athletic ability? Is there a limit to human's abilities? For the first episode, Trace is going to be discussing why our brain hates exercise so much.
A lot of people face a mental block about getting themselves to the gym. There's a couple theories about what causes this. First, the self-determination theory. This states that human behavior is motivated by three primary psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness with others. At different levels of physical activities
any or all of these psychological needs may be activated. Once someone attains a high level of competency a breakthrough happens: It becomes intrinsically motivated. This could happen after the behavior becomes routine, or you become really good at it. In psychology we call this a Token Economy (i.e.: you do something right, you get a reward).
But according to a paper written by Christina Frederick and Hana Schuster-Smith in the Journal of Sports Behavior, there are three levels of self-determination: external regulation (behavior is directly and externally controlled or coerced), literal (usually something physical) or Introjected regulation (the individual's desire to gain social approval and avoid disapproval motivates behavior). In identified regulation, the person is motivated through interests, abilities and the desire to achieve self initiated goals, i.e. personal gain. According to the American College Of Sports Medicine, one of the simplest intrinsic motivators is simply, knowledge, the understanding the benefits of exercise both for health of mind and body can motivate an individual. This is enough to motivate many people. Extrinsic motivators can be things like weight loss and improved physical appearance. Well how can we make working out easier for ourselves then?
Research suggests that about 50 percent of people starting an exercise program will drop out within the first six months. A person's sense of self-perception plays a major role in whether or not they will start an exercise program in the first place. Just going to class is sometimes enough to trigger than intrinsic motivation. But if not, there is an extrinsic motivator too, though a small one...you paid for the class and you don't want to experience the feelings of wasting that money. You go to class and you get value and that's a reward too. Again, I know, it's hard to get started. But it's not your fault.
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Effect of Goal Setting on Motivation and Adherence in a Six?Week Exercise Program (Academia)
"The aim of the study was to utilize a goal-setting intervention to examine the impact on motivation and adherence during a six-week exercise program."
Exercise Motivation: What Starts and Keeps People Exercising? (University of New Mexico)
"Although extolling all the benefits of exercise seems impressive, it is apparent
that this approach by itself does not assure consistent exercise compliance for most
individuals. Regular exercise is a complex, multi-factorial behavior that exercise
professionals and scientists need to better understand, in order to help clients stay active