The Secret to Exercising more – 2 easy techniques

The secret to exercising more … 2 scientific techniques that hold the key to exercising, and doing anything you want… more consistently!!

Recently, I ran across some interesting research pertaining to exercise. Specifically, how to build the habit of exercising. The research points to two practical techniques that, I believe, can be used to become better at exercising, and doing anything we want!

Consider that in just a few weeks many of us are going to be declaring New Year’s resolutions.  Research out of the University of Scranton suggests that just 8% of people who set out to achieve New Year’s resolutions actually keep them! Wouldn’t it be helpful to discover what the experts are saying that can help us meet our goals? Let’s review two studies and the techniques that came from them.

Emily Balcetis is a Professor of Psychology at New York University.  Her team performed a series of studies surrounding the beliefs people have about exercising and how those beliefs affected their exercise habits. Not surprisingly, some people view exercise as easier than other people. What her team discovered is that when people viewed exercise as easier, they were more likely to exercise vigorously and achieve exercise goals. In effect, when people see a goal as more attainable, they strive harder for it.

Emily Balcetis can be seen delivering a Ted talk at:

https://www.ted.com/talks/emily_balcetis_why_some_people_find_exercise_harder_than_others?referrer=playlist-why_we_do_the_things_we_do#t-759986

The British Journal of Health Psychology reported a study on exercise that determined it was not our past exercise behavior or motivation that determined whether we exercised more or less.  It was our intention to exercise that determined frequency. James Clear, a motivational blogger, picked up on the study and brought clarity in an article I share here.

The article by James Clear referencing the Journal of Health study can be read on his blog post at:

https://jamesclear.com/implementation-intentions

What the science points to is that motivation and willpower are not enough to consistently exercise or do anything that we perceive as difficult. What struck me as interesting is that in both of these studies researchers found techniques that effectively let us trick ourselves into exercising more.  I wonder if these techniques can be used in all areas of our life. Here they are…you decide:

  1. Keep your eye on the prize.  When you focus clearly on the goal, visualize the finish line and see everything around it as blurry or insubstantial…it makes things you need to do to get there look and feel easier.  People don’t lack motivation, they lack clarity!
  2. Declare your intentions. Those who declared the Date, Time and Place of exercise were 2.3 times more likely to do it. You can’t wake up hoping to feel motivated or count on your willpower to get you to exercise. Instead, you need to make time in your calendar and put into writing and words, where, and how, you will exercise.

If clearly visualizing the finish line and declaring the specifics of your intentions allow you to do more to achieve your goals, perhaps we can start there.