While most people acknowledge how
important exercise and physical activity are to the human body, few are
regularly active enough to receive significant health benefits. Estimates
suggest that 40% of the American population is considered completely sedentary,
while less than 20% are active at an intensity and frequency recommended for
cardiovascular benefit. Worse yet, the dropout rates for those who do begin an
exercise program reach 50% or more by the end of the first six months.
There are three types of factors
that affect our motivation to stay with an exercise program. Personal factors
have to do with you and your perceptions toward exercise. Program factors
focus on the exercise program, it's convenience and the enjoyment you derive
from it. Environmental factors deal with your external world that you
can, and at times, can not control. The questions below may shed some light on
how these factors affect your exercise program.
How do you feel about the value
What is your past experience
What is your skill level in
performing your chosen activities?
What is your own personal
How do you perceive the
exercise program's convenience and enjoyability?
Do you feel that the activity
is overly uncomfortable or difficult?
Do you have the ability to
resolve typical barriers to exercise? (i.e., travel, illness, time)
Is your program convenient?
(Time of day, number of weekly sessions, schedule flexibility, accessibility to
Does your chosen activity
require special, costly or time-consuming preparation?
Is the program of reasonable
enough intensity so that you find it challenging but not punishing or aversive?
Is the program varied enough to
maintain interest and diminish boredom?
Are you comfortable with the
location at which the activity takes place?
Have you set up some regular
cues to remind yourself to exercise? (Pack your gym bag and put it by the door,
have equipment at home visible and easily accessible, schedule exercise on your
Are you able to accommodate
weather conditions? (Exercise indoors instead of outdoors, exercise at home
instead of driving to the gym on icy roads)
Do you have an ongoing support
system? (Include your family in activities, get a "fitness partner" to workout
with, meet other members in exercise classes)
Strategies to Keep You Moving:
It's helpful to think of this
motivational process as dynamic and ongoing; different strategies are needed for
different stages of your exercise program. Here are some practical tips to keep
you moving forward:
Build on success...
with small goals that lead to larger goals. Don't try and tackle everything at
once. Take one step at a time and keep building upon each step.
Find a role model...
someone who started where you were. Feel inspired by their success.
attainable goals. Being realistic will prevent you from becoming frustrated
Set well defined goals and
reward yourself for reaching them... this will encourage you to set new
goals. Make the rewards healthy such as a new pair of walking shoes or a
Keep a journal...
able to see how far you've progressed and evaluate what works and what doesn't.
Take bimonthly photos...
these pictures let you see changes over time. Often change is gradual and we
don't see the difference from day to day.
learn the basics add new exercises and activities into your program. This will
help keep you from becoming bored with your routine.
Try not to focus on what you are
giving up... focus on new options that you'll have after you become more
fit. What you're giving up is nothing compared to what you gain by getting fit.
Don't make exercise just another
item on your to-do list... connect to it on a deeper level. Regular exercise
must become a lifestyle, something you do without hesitation.
you know about fitness and a healthy lifestyle the more inspired you will be to
keep it up. Education on the subject will also make it less likely
for you to get injured or to get stuck in a rut.
Use your time wisely...
doesn't have to take hours to achieve your fitness goals. Greater intensity can
improve results and shorten total workout time.
Know your limits and stay within
your means... fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and elevated resting heart
rate are all signs of overdoing it.
learn more return to
Getting and Staying Active