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.