Enjoyment of exercise is often dismissed as a n0n-essential part of fitness. It can seem frivolous, even counterproductive. If I am enjoying it, it must not be hard enough to be worth it. Yet, research shows this factor can make all the difference in gaining long term benefits.
Why is enjoyment an essential part of fitness for health and well-being?
- We are motivated by pleasure and reward. This is just the way our brains are set up to help us survive and thrive. When exercise is something to “get through” or “just do”, motivation is not as sustainable. Working with our natural motivation toward things that are rewarding and pleasurable is much more effective than gritting our teeth just to get through a workout.
- Success breeds success: Accomplishment counteracts laziness! Have you ever noticed that energizing feeling of finishing a project. After exercise we often move on to the next thing without thinking, missing out on the chance to boost our motivation for next time we are stuck. Or worse, we are left feeling like it just was not good enough, we should have done more. Pause and savor how you feel after exercise, even if it is just that sense of accomplishment of doing something (always better than nothing). Taking a moment to celebrate the small victories has big payoffs for sticking with your plan long term.
- The Belief Effect: Research has shown that the placebo effect is so real it is now called “The Belief Effect” . What we believe about a medical treatment actually changes how the body responds to it. Well now we have that evidence of the belief effect for exercise too. Check out this study about how what we expect from exercise changes the benefits in the mind and the body. What you are thinking when you are exercising can change what you get from it. If you are exercising so you can gain the great benefits of fitness, it is worth taking the time to create a plan and a mindset for enjoyment!
Keep Moving, Be Well
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These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.
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