Motivation plays a major role in many aspects of life; work, home, family, friendships, health and well-being...In each of these parts of life, you may have a few different motives for doing what you do.
For many people who contact the Physical Activity Line, lack of motivation is a reason why they don’t exercise. How do you overcome this? Finding the right type of motivation can make it easier and even desirable to consistently be physically active every day. Consider these two types of motivation.
This is when you perform an action or behaviour because you enjoy the process and movement of that task. One example is dance; you may like moving with music, feel a sense of energy, and it’s a way to express yourself. Or if you really enjoy strategy, then you may enjoy a sport like curling where many tactics are involved. Intrinsic motivation is different for everyone, but the common factor is that you do it because you get personal satisfaction.
This is when you do something in order to achieve an end goal. A few examples of this would be:
- if you join a gym because you want your body to look a certain way.
- if you participate in races because you want to win the reward (i.e., finisher’s medal or prize money).
- if you have a health condition, like type 2 diabetes, and your doctor recommends becoming active to manage your blood sugar levels.
In most cases, motivation for physical activity is a combination of both. When I’m training for a running race, I enjoy the structure that my training plan brings and the camaraderie of my running buddies (intrinsic motivation), but on rainy days I still go running because I want to beat my personal best and want that finishers medal (extrinsic motivation).
So, how can you use intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to your advantage? Try this. Write down something that you enjoy doing, then write down an end goal. It could look like this:
Enjoy: Nature and adventure
Goal: Improve aerobic fitness
In the example above, hiking or mountain biking would be a good choice for you to stay consistent with physical activity. I recommend thinking about what you enjoy first (intrinsic) and then about what end goal motivates you (extrinsic). This will help you brainstorm ideas of what activities you’d like to try and that you’d stick with.
Regardless of what type of motivation gets you out and being active, find a physical activity that stimulates you. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey to your destination!