We all know of exercise as that thing touted by popular magazine covers as a tool to lose weight. “Get Your Body Bikini Ready!” “Drop Those Holiday Pounds!” “Look Better Naked!” While we can’t argue that exercise is an important part of any weight management program, we can take a different perspective to get excited about exercise.
Research has indicated that those who exercise for appearance-related reasons are less likely enjoy their workout and will feel more objectified. Additionally, there is evidence that intrinsic reasons for exercising (those that have to do with your own feelings and self-benefit) are related to more positivity about exercise, as opposed to extrinsic reasons for exercising (like concern about what others might think of you or your appearance).
Here is a list of great intrinsic reasons to help create your exercise spark:
- Because it makes you feel strong and athletic.
- Because it reminds you that you are capable.
- Because you can test your boundaries and find success. As Dan Kraft, one of my high school basketball coaches, said, “Once you find success on the court, you can find success anywhere.”
- Because your body is an incredible machine and you CAN.
- Because you need the time alone.
- Because you need the time to catch up with a friend.
- Because you can’t listen to – and move to – your whole playlist of fast, catchy songs all at once at any other time.
- Because if you don’t accomplish anything else today, you have accomplished this.
- Because you’re investing in your future health – physically and mentally.
- Because you can set and reach fitness goals that will help you feel empowered.
- Because exercise doesn’t have to be icky. Hiking, bike riding, skiing, and ice skating all count as exercise!
- Because when you are disciplined about exercise, you can feel in control.
- Because the more you exercise, the more you want to exercise.
Intrinsic reasons for exercising put the power in your hands and re-frame exercise as opportunity instead of obligation. What are some of your favorite intrinsic reasons for exercising?
O’Hara SE, Cox AE, Amorose AJ. Emphasizing appearance versus health outcomes in exercise: the influence of the instructor and participants’ reasons for exercise. Body Image. 2014;11:109-118.
Shin M, Kim I, Kwon S. Effect of intrinsic motivation on affective responses during and after exercise: latent curve model analysis. Perceptual & Motor Skills. 2014;119:717-730.