There's no shortage of research and reports on the benefits of exercise. Yet, there's still many who don't exercise regularly and others who do, grudgingly. What makes one person love exercise and another one loathe it?
The difference can be in how mindful you are as an athlete. Does it really make a difference? Consider how mindfulness applies to eating, for example.
We've all had our mind-less moments. Can you remember a time you endlessly munched on a box of cookies in front of your computer screen? Or that time you weren't even hungry but managed to work through an entire bag of chips before you could count to 20?
Add a touch of mindfulness to the picture and suddenly you stop and say "wait, I'm not really hungry. I don't need to be eating these snacks". Mindfulness is what helped you take 1-2 cookies out of the box, put the box away, sit down and enjoy each bite before distracting your senses with the computer or TV screen. Mindfulness keeps the excess calories away and the excess pounds off.
For healthy, long-term exercise habits, mindfulness is important. It means intentionally paying attention to what is happening both internally and externally while you exercise.
Extrinsic & Intrinsic Motivation Factors with Exercise
Listen to your body. What's going on in your heart, mind, and body before, during, and after exercise (intrinsic factors)? How does it make you feel? What's going on outside of your body (extrinsic factors)? How does it make you look, work, or interact?
Now, are the reasons you listed working? Are they motivating you, inspiring you to exercise regularly.
The trick is to focus more on intrinsic factors, rather than only extrinsic ones. This will keep exercise more enjoyable and less burdensome.
Maybe you exercise for the following extrinsic factors:
-to look better, younger, toned
-to improve your posture
-because your doctor told you to
There's nothing wrong with these reasons. Surely, your doctor has the best intentions. There's nothing wrong with looking good, either. Dig deeper, though, and you'll find your own personal incentives that can give you lasting results, motivation to make your exercise patterns long-term.
Extrinsic or aesthetic goals that you can see "on the outside" are great. The problem, though, is that once they're achieved, motivation may start to fade away. Don't forget the huge impact your workout and diet goals have on your long-term health and wellness. If you or a loved on has ever suffered from a serious health problem, these intrinsic benefits may hit closer to home.
Maybe you exercise because you want:
-better athletic performance
-to be more energetic and lively
-to feel good about yourself (more self-esteem)
-to feel confident
-a healthy weight
-healthy cholesterol levels
-lower blood sugar
-normal blood pressure
-less sick days and a stronger immunity
-to feel happier (get those endorphins kicking!)
-to feel stronger
-to fight depression
-to be an inspiring example for your loved ones
-to strengthen your heart
-to strengthen your bones
-to enjoy shopping for clothes and to feel good in them
-to like what you see in the mirror
-to accomplish a personal exercise or performance goal
-to keep your mind sharp
-to build a strong core
-to fight belly bloat
-to save money (on health care costs)
-to build muscle and prevent muscle loss
-to reduce body fat
-to speed up your metabolism
-to improve breathing (tired of getting winded after climbing a floor)
-to add years to your life
Make your own personal formula for exercise success. The more specific and personalized, the better. Then, next time you exercise think about how those reasons are actually being accomplished at that moment. Make the connection. Build a bridge between what you're doing (the exercise) and why!
You'll find that neither boredom, lack of motivation, nor cold weather will keep you from working out.
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Sports Med. 2004;34(4):239-52.