With exercise and health promotions regularly being revised and re-published aimed to increase success. Is there a common factor within them that is frequently overlooked?
Several factors including low levels of participation or new guidelines being published can lead to re-assessment of initiatives. Even with constant updates, exercise participation in the UK is still nowhere near optimum levels for health benefits.
The Health Survey for England (HSE) states that 67% of men and 55% of women are meeting the recommended levels of aerobic exercise. However this figure drops to only 43% for men and 37% of women when related to strength exercise recommendations. (NHS Livewell)
Why do you exercise?
The question of ‘why do we exercise?’ shows a number of diverse answers. These can range from preparation for competition, general and specific health related benefits, to ‘look good’ and my favourite response ‘I’ve been told to’.
There is a clear divide in today’s gym goers. The people working their hardest with a look of self-satisfaction and genuine pleasure on their face. Then the person who looks like the gym is the last place they would ever want to be. They often resemble a child shuffling their feet behind their parents in Tesco, with a look that could kill on their face. But unfortunately for them they ‘HAVE’ to be there.
Are you lacking gym motivation?
Unfortunately, participants like these feel exercise is often thrust onto them by health and fitness professionals. This often results in a feeling of pressure to get involved. Thus instantly taking enjoyment out of the equation. Along with a rapid decrease in any fitness motivation. Nobody really wants to be told what to do, do they!
Hagberg et al suggest that significant health benefits are directly affected by long term adherence to exercise participation. Results claimed that high levels of adherence showed strong links to participant enjoyment. However the specific aspects of exercise that made it enjoyable were not investigated.
Whatever the reason you are training, the emphasis on enjoyment is rarely mentioned or deemed an important factor in success. Training is very much focused on intensities, volumes and workloads aimed at achieving the greatest benefits possible, as much as this is true, if you’re not enjoying yourself the chances are you are not going to be very motivated to do it again.
Why is gym motivation important?
Enjoying exercise will greatly increase gym motivation and in turn give stability to your routine. Regular exercise routines are very often accompanied by stronger habits. These habits are key to enjoyment in exercising as they move you away from the negative thoughts of ‘I have to do it!’ Positively reinforced habits are strongly linked to achieving goals and targets. (Slovinec D’Angelo et al.)
Exercise should not be looked upon as a chore, as studies show this greatly decreases any long term adherence to exercise programs. (Slovinec D’Angelo et al.)
Need More Gym Motivation?
Now, I am not suggesting that you give up exercise if you don’t enjoy it, far from it. There are ridiculous numbers of programs, methods and levels of exercise you could experiment with. So if you’re not confident in your abilities, not seeing desired results or generally feeling fed up with what you’re doing, try something totally different. So go up to the guy hanging off the TRX machine and ask him to show you a few moves.
Alternately join a fitness community and get some advice on where to go next.
It could be the smallest switch in your program that sparks your interest. Possibly you’re the type where opening a new bag of protein or pre-workout that gives you a kick to get back to your best.
NHS Livewell, ‘Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet’. 2015. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.
Hagberg, L. A. et al. ‘Importance of Enjoyment When Promoting Physical Exercise’. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 19.5 (2009): 740-747. Web.
Hanson, C. L. et al. ‘An Evaluation Of The Efficacy Of The Exercise On Referral Scheme In Northumberland, UK: Association With Physical Activity And Predictors Of Engagement. A Naturalistic Observation Study’. BMJ Open 3.8 (2013): e002849-e002849. Web.
Slovinec D’Angelo, Monika E. et al. ‘The Roles of Self-Efficacy and Motivation In The Prediction Of Short- And Long-Term Adherence To Exercise Among Patients With Coronary Heart Disease.’ Health Psychology 33.11 (2014): 1344-1353. Web.