Best Practice: How to Really Want to Work Out

Best Practice: How to Really Want to Work Out

Motivation is often spoken of as if it were some inward reservoir. Whether it is talking about one’s level of motivation (as if the tank were either full or empty), waiting for motivation (as if it were an annoyingly late 8:15 train), or digging to find motivation (like drilling for a new oil well and hoping for a gusher), motivation is frequently discussed as a quantity. People may wish their motivation were higher or greater, or they may lament their motivation as if its absence were a personality flaw. . . . In contrast, the exercise philosophy we preach asks you to look outward for motivation — and to appreciate just how motivated you can be. The trick is not digging deep to find motivation but manipulating your environment in order to help support certain motivations over others at any given moment...

For example, buy the audio version of a book that you find hard to put down. Keep the player next to your workout gear, and never anywhere else (to avoid temptation). As you wonder what will happen next in the book, you’ll have to wonder when you can have your next workout. Presto! You are motivated to exercise. In fact, you’ll find it hard to keep your workout short.

Adapted from: Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being, by Michael Otto and Jasper Smits. Oxford University Press, August 2011

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