Sir Isaac Newton understood one of the reasons we sometimes lack motivation to exercise.
"An object at rest stays at rest, while an object in motion stays in motion." Newton's 1st law of motion.
Our busy lives and our increasingly sedentary jobs have caused many of us to become that "object at rest", and it's impacting the quality of our lives.
To help us get moving again, we spoke with Serge Brazhnikov, an award-winning fitness and wellness educator, and a personal trainer at Les Mills Britomart. Here are his top tips to get your motivation humming and yourself moving.
1. Be consistent and make lots of small goals
"You don't need to complete a half marathon on your first day. Going for a walk could be your goal. And the same again the next day."
By making small goals and consistently achieving them, you're training a habit. And a healthy habit is like a sail on a boat: it will push you along with minimal extra effort.
When we anticipate achieving even a small goal, our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter connected to feelings of pleasure, learning and motivation. And because we love that feeling, we're eager to repeat the behaviour, nurturing a habit.1
2. Schedule time to exercise
"Invest time in yourself before anything else, because without your wellbeing everything else will suffer."
Like setting small goals, putting time in the calendar to exercise has multiple benefits. For starters, it helps you address the "no time" excuse directly.
"We all have 24 hours, and that's enough time to exercise," says Serge, "What's happening is we're choosing to prioritise other things instead, like sleeping in or spending more time at work."
"By scheduling your exercise, you're saying this is important to me, and I'm committed."
This is what experts call the "endowment effect". When you take "ownership" of something it becomes "yours" and integrates with your self-identity. If you then fail to achieve that goal, you feel a sense of loss, like losing a valued possession. That's something you're hard-wired to want to avoid, which makes you more likely to follow through on your goal.2
3. Choose a convenient location
The best gym or place to exercise is the one you actually go to; whether that's close to home, close to work or even a local park.
"Convenience is the key. When you're developing your exercise habit, you want to make it as easy as possible to enjoy it. So choose a local gym."
When you're developing a new exercise habit, you don't just work your muscles. You're working your willpower too. Researchers often compare willpower to a muscle. Just like a muscle, willpower demands energy, and it fatigues over time. Training it can make it stronger, but over exert your willpower, and it will likely fail. Manage your willpower wisely. Don't waste it fighting traffic. Remember consistency is the key to developing a habit, and it's that consistency you should be focusing your willpower on.
So, there you have it, three ways to start moving, take life back and live healthier.
- Rice, M. E. (2019, January 22). Closing in on what motivates motivation. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01589-6
- Van Edwards, V. (n.d.). Goal Setting: 5 Science Backed Steps to Setting and Achieving Your Goals. Retrieved from https://www.scienceofpeople.com/goal-setting/
- O'Connor, W. T. (2019). Blame It on the Brain: Why Breaking New Year's Resolutions Is All In The Mind. Retrieved from https://profbillyoconnor/blame-it-on-the-brain-why-breaking-new-years-resolutions-is-all-in-the-mind-ee4fe283f680