Advertising
Advertising

4 Scientifically Proven Ways to Get Workout Motivation

4 Scientifically Proven Ways to Get Workout Motivation

A large number of people who exercise casually would love to engage in it more often, but they have a hard time finding proper motivation so as to make physical exercise an integral part of their daily routine.

Contrary to what you might think, there aren’t any popular or well-known ways of getting used to the fitness lifestyle, at least not to the point where you would say something like, “I can’t meet you for brunch now. I have to complete my run first.” They say you must “want it” really bad. Or that you must engage in an activity for 21 days in a row before you become really accustomed to it. But nobody tells you what to do on the 30th day when the winter’s cold is biting outside, and you’d give anything to cancel your run and stay under the covers for a couple of hours more.

Fitness Motivation Made Simple

Luckily, psychologists and economists have long tried to decipher the code behind the reasons that make us do certain things against our will, over and over again. Here’s what they’ve come up with.

1. Reward Yourself  

For some people, dubious goals such as “improved health” or “weight control” might work, but if you are not one of them, journalist Charles Duhigg, writer of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business suggests making the benefits of exercise more concrete; for example, like treating yourself to a smoothie or watching an episode of your favorite TV show afterwards.

Advertising

“An external reward has such a strong effect because your mind can grasp it and make the association that the act is worthwhile.”

He explains how to create a neurological “habit loop,” which entails a cue to stimulate the act (placing your running shoes by your bag), the act itself (complete a running session) and then the reward. “An external reward has such a strong effect because your mind can grasp it and make the association that the act is worthwhile,” he says. “It makes it more likely that the act becomes a routine.”

As the time passes, the motivation becomes internal, because the brain starts relating pain and sweat with the release of endorphins – those chemicals that are endogenously produced in the brain and are responsible for that feel-good sensation you have after a great workout. After showing your brain that the real reward is exercise itself, you won’t even crave for the external reward.

2. Commit In The Presence Of Others

While making self-promises is something we do every day, it has been shown that the odds of following through on commitments are much higher if we do so in front of friends.

Advertising

You can even raise the stakes a bit more, by signing a pact where you pledge to pay a friend $20 every time you miss a session of Pilates. “It’s the simple idea of increasing the costs,” says Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, PhD, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, an expert in the field of health decision. “I pledge to engage in an activity for a specific amount of time, such as completing three 30-minute workouts weekly, for three months. If I fail to keep that promise, I am penalized, either with money or with the embarrassment of having everyone I know watch me failing to honor my word.”

Goldhaber-Fiebert et al. conducted studies of people who created contracts online, and found that the ones who signed the longest contracts ultimately exercised more than their shorter-committed counterparts.  “We have to overcome the first unpleasant feelings to realize the benefits that come in the long-term,” he says. “The hard part is to devise instruments to help make it a reality.”

Another example of really committing in front of others, even if they’re not there, is to join a virtual group of like-minded enthusiasts. While this isn’t a new idea, there are a few twists on it that have combined social media, technology, and real time streaming to really take it to the next level. For instance, my friends are all part of a closed Facebook group called ‘The Biggest Loser’ not unlike the popular TV show. Each day all my lady friends weigh in, update their points, and take snapshots of their progress. It’s a great motivator.

3. Re-imagine Positive Attitude

Supporters of positive attitude have long advocated for the visualization of the benefits that result from a certain attitude as a strategy that gives incentive.  For instance, when I am debating with myself if I should leave my warm bed to go for a run in the morning, imagining the sun’s light on my face is really helpful. Or the feeling I will derive from admiring my new muscle gains.

Advertising

“When you visualize the obstacle, you can decide how to run past it and plan accordingly.”

However, these positive-feeling visualizations are only effective when you accompany them with more realistic problem-solving techniques. At least this is what Gabriele Oettingen, PhD, a psychologist at NYU and the writer of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation maintains.

This is what you have to do: After zeroing in on your desire and picturing the result, you have to figure out what’s stopping you – a method called “mental contrasting.” In a study of fifty-one female students who stated they wished to eat less junk food, the participants were requested to imagine the benefits of opting for healthier snacks. The ones who could figure out the factor which prevented them from snacking on healthy food –and could devise a method of eating fruit to quench their craving- had the most success in remaining focused on their goal.

Are you too exhausted to hit the gym after work? Visualize the obstacle, and discover a way to run past it and devise a plan”, says Oettingen. For instance, you can try working out in the morning or during lunchtime, or hit the gym directly after work, avoiding passing out at home first.

Advertising

4. Get Paid

Still having trouble? Maybe you should resort to hard, cold cash. Research investigating financial incentives and exercise showed that people who were compensated with $100 to hit the gym had 100% higher attendance rate. “All you need is have people to continue doing an activity, and compensating them for it was effective,” explains Gary Charness, PhD, a behavioral economist at the University of California at Santa Barbara and study author.

If you don’t have access to generous donors, you can take a look at the likes of Pact, an app in which a network of users will actually pay you to follow your schedule. If you fail to do so, you authorize the app to charge your PayPal account or credit card. When you hit your target, you get paid out of a common pot financed by yourself and other pact-breakers.

Regardless of the way you used to get there, when the day comes that skipping your workout is simply out of the question, you’ll know you succeeded. Name it an escape, pleasure or addiction. However, what counts is that it has become a regular habit, with a purpose to serve you and only you.

Featured photo credit: Nicholas_T/imcreator via imcreator.com

More by this author

Who’s at the Wheel? Technology Causing Distracted Driving and Other Stories of Multi-Tasking Is Your Website Costing You Sales? Staying Afloat: Why Kids Should Learn to Swim If You’re a Burned Out Entrepreneur There’s a Solution Common Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Parents

Trending in Exercise

15 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly) 23 Home Exercises To Fix Your Rounded Shoulders In One Month 3Workout Every Day: Thursday Music Playlist 4Cut down on drinking! Time for a post-holiday detox 5How To Get A Six-Pack In One Month

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on July 13, 2018

13 Pregnancy Yoga Exercises for The Last Trimester

13 Pregnancy Yoga Exercises for The Last Trimester

Practicing yoga during pregnancy is a great way to nurture you and your baby. It can also help you cope and prepare both your mind and body for any pregnancy demands and challenges that you may face especially during the third trimester.

Yoga during pregnancy helps you to create space for both your baby and your internal organs. However, make sure that you only do what feels right and works, avoid muscle strains and extreme pressure exercises.

There are plenty of yoga techniques that can help you to prepare for labor in the 3rd trimester. Before you try out yoga, make sure you talk to your doctor. This way, you may know the do and don’t during this stage. The following are some of the common yoga exercises to try out during the third trimester.

1. Birth prep exercises

This mainly entails simple exercise designed to reduce pains and aches and can as well as help position the baby in a good pelvic alignment. Include this technique in your workout rest brakes, warm-up, and as part of your daily poses.

Here’s an example of it:

2. Cat cow

    This is a great pose for lengthening your spine and strengthen your core muscles.[1]

    This pose is a great technique for all pregnancy stages. It will help strengthen your belly as the pregnancy continues to grow.

    This asana also relieves the back and allow a better circulation of spinal fluids and blood.

    Practice belly breathing when performing this pose. It will aid in calming your mind and reducing morning sickness.

    It should be done about 5 times for best results.

    3. Warrior II

      This technique is great for strengthening your core and legs and as well as lengthen your spine. Even though this technique is a little bit challenging, it is said to help alleviate backaches during pregnancy.

      Advertising

      4. Bridge pose

        This pose is convenient if you want to open up your hips and strengthen your glutes, core, and hamstrings.[2] Also, it can be practiced in all the trimesters.

        Begin on the side and roll to the back as you move your body into a bridge pose. This helps avoid stressing your rectus abdominals.

        Avoid this exercise if you feel uncomfortable on your back.

        5. Cobblers pose (Baddha Konasana)

          This technique is said to improve the health of the reproductive system.[3] During pregnancy, it aids in opening up the pelvis, therefore ensuring an easy and fast labor.

          It is also said to calm the mind and improve blood circulation. This yoga practice can be performed as follows:

          • Sit on a mat and stretch out your legs.
          • Fold your knees and bring your feet at the center.
          • Then straighten your back.
          • Using your palms hold your feet for a few seconds.
          • Release.
          • Repeat this about 4 times.

          6. Warrior I

            This technique helps you explore your upper body. It helps to open up your chest and strengthen your legs. This technique helps restore the health of your spine and help make space for the growing uterus.

            Also, it helps your mind relax and stay focused and maintain balance. It can be performed as follows;

            • Place your feet apart in a hip-width position.
            • Pivot on the left foot.
            • Make your right foot to face forward.
            • Lower the pelvis, then assume a lunge.
            • Look forward and lift your arms above your head.
            • Hold that position as long as possible.
            • Release the pose.
            • Repeat the process with the left foot forward.

            7. Corpse pose

              This technique aims at relaxing your body and mind.[4] It boosts your energy instantly and hence it’s convenient for battling any fatigue during the pregnancy.

              Also, it helps in fighting off any side effects of pregnancy such as pain, morning sickness, and nausea. This pose can be performed as follows:

              Advertising

              • Lie on your back.
              • Let your palms rest beside you while facing upwards.
              • Close your eyes and then relax- your arms should be alongside your body.
              • Breathe.

              8. Spiraling movement

              This entails moving your pelvis in circular motions and moving your hips. These movements help to massage down the baby’s head onto the cervix.

              Also, these movements helps you keep your pelvis mobile and relaxed while loosening your muscles and ligaments.

              You may consider using a fitness ball to help in the movements.

              9. Child’s pose

                This is a resting pose. It helps to focus on your breath, breathe more deeply, and also it’s a good position to rest between labor contractions.[5]

                This is a great position that will help you find peace and promote a healthy and a happy pregnancy. It’s safe for all trimesters.

                Relax and move your knees apart, then rest your head on your fists, hand, or on the floor. You should avoid this position if your pubic symphysis is sore or open. Relax in this position, eyes closed.

                10. Chanting

                Making your own sounds during pregnancy and birth is a powerful way to regulate your breathing, it enables you to focus and relax as you deal with the pain that is associated with pregnancy and labor.

                Practicing voice sounds can help you open up and have an easier and more comfortable labor. You can do this as follows:

                • Sit comfortably.
                • Close your eyes.
                • Placing your index fingers on the lobes of your ears, take a deep breath.
                • Exhaling slowly, make gentle humming sounds.
                • Do this 5 to 10 times.
                • You can also do this while lying down with arms by the side of the body.

                11. Standing hip rotations

                  This moves will help strengthen your pelvis as well as relax.[6] You can do this as follows:

                  • Stand with feet wide apart but comfortable.
                  • Slightly bend your knees.
                  • Place your hands on your hips and rotate your hips.
                  • Try to keep your upper body still.
                  • Focus on rotating the hips and the belly.
                  • Inhale while moving your hips forward and exhale while moving them backward.
                  • Do this as many times as you wish.

                  12. Tree pose

                    This is a balancing technique. It helps strengthening your legs and core. It also improves posture and alleviates back pain. How to perform this pose:

                    Advertising

                    • Feet on the ground, shift your weight forward and backward until you gain balance.
                    • Shift your weight to one foot.
                    • You can also lift one of your foot to your ankle to gain balance.
                    • Bring the foot higher to your inner thigh.
                    • Put your hands in a prayer position.
                    • Hold this for 5 breaths.
                    • You can also raise the arms above your head.
                    • Repeat with the other leg.

                    This technique is safe for all stages during pregnancy.

                    13. Meditation

                    Over the years, meditation has been used to manage a lot of conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety, and much more.

                    During the last trimester of your pregnancy, meditation can help to move gracefully as you approach labor. It will help you ascertain a more peaceful state of mind by avoiding stress and anxiety especially if you are giving birth for the first time.

                    Develop the habit of practicing meditation on a daily basis.

                    Guidelines for pregnancy yoga

                    There are some poses, however, that you should avoid while pregnant. They include plank cross, locust pose, boat pose, plow pose, and much more. Consult with your doctor on the best exercises.

                    Here’re some guidelines you need to know before practicing yoga:

                    1. Do what feels right.

                    Starting yoga especially in your last trimester can be challenging while it’s really important in preparing both your mind and body for labor and pregnancy-related demands.

                    To avoid accidents or extreme positions, you should practice yoga poses with the guidance of a trained tutor.

                    When choosing which yoga poses to perform, listen to your body and do what you feel comfortable doing. Since all women do not have the same challenges and experience during pregnancy, avoid doing poses that your friends are doing if they don’t feel right to you.

                    2. Do fewer poses.

                    In case you are into physical exercises, it’s important to soften your training to avoid harming both your body and the health of the baby. Also, avoid long hours of training. You can talk to your doctor to guide you on the most convenient techniques to practice.

                    During pregnancy, your body tends to have higher temperatures and it may feel hotter than usual. It’s recommended to avoid practicing yoga in a heated environment. Perform these techniques in a suitable environment with fresh and adequate ventilation.

                    Advertising

                    3. Don’t get distracted.

                    Reduce distraction while practicing yoga. For instance, a telephone can interfere with proper meditation.

                    4. Stay comfortable.

                    Wear loose and comfortable clothing.

                    5. Do not eat before yoga.

                    Practice yoga on empty stomach. Most techniques are effective in the morning.

                    6. Always warm up for a few minutes.

                    You can walk around, loosen your joints, move your limbs and warm up your muscles.

                    7. Stay hydrated.

                    Make sure that you are well hydrated especially when practicing challenging and sweaty poses. Dehydration, especially during the last trimester of your pregnancy can have severe sequences such as false early labor or preterm labor.

                    Yoga techniques are the best kinds of workouts to try out during pregnancy. Especially if practiced together with mild exercises such as walking, it can help the expectant mother deal with both emotional and physical changes with ease.

                    Also, it will help mothers feel relaxed and stay in shape during the last trimester of pregnancy.

                    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                    Reference

                    Read Next