Men's Health (Singapore) - - ON THE COVER -

So, 2018 is com­ing to a close- how far are you from the fit­ness goals set in Jan­uary? For those that have met them- ku­dos, and keep it up. But for those who haven’t- don’t fret, we’ve all been there, and there’s still time. Un­less in­jury has kept you off your fit­ness game, it’s usu­ally a chal­lenge of mo­ti­va­tion.

The prob­lem is not com­pli­cated: A lot of days, ex­er­cise is drudgery. Now, the con­ven­tional wis­dom has al­ways been that we all just need to move past that: Suck it up! No pain, no gain! Blah, blah, blah. But an emerg­ing body of re­search sug­gests that the hard-ass ap­proach to ex­er­cise is it­self an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity. If we want to be suc­cess­ful, the re­searchers sug­gest, we need to stop forc­ing our­selves to do things we don't like do­ing.

It's a cu­ri­ous thing that most gym work­outs mimic not play, but work: We hoist heavy things like long­suf­fer­ing long­shore­men; we row imag­i­nary boats like slaves in a ship's steer­age; we walk end­less steps to nowhere. Is it any won­der we're not hav­ing a good time?

In a study pub­lished in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Sport and Health Sci­ence, re­searchers clas­si­fied 486 ex­er­cis­ers on a mo­ti­va­tion scale. This in­cluded peo­ple who were in­trin­si­cally mo­ti­vated to ex­er­cise—they did it be­cause it was fun—and those given some out­side mo­ti­va­tion to start mov­ing. The re­sults: Six months into the study, the in­trin­si­cally mo­ti­vated peo­ple who were still ex­er­cis­ing out­num­bered their ex­ter­nally prod­ded peers three to one.

So get off your butt and just start do­ing some­thing. Week­end foot­ball? 3-on-3 bas­ket­ball? Hik­ing around MacRitchie? Just go ahead and have some fun, while work­ing out a sweat. You don’t al­ways need a gym to keep fit.


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