More evidence that the way a person thinks about exercise can have an impact on their health. Recent studies out of the University of New Hampshire suggest that recalling a positive memory of exercise can make a person more likely to continue to exercise in the future.
In the words of the researchers involved in the study: "These results provide the first experimental evidence that autobiographical memory activation can be an effective tool in motivating individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles."
So, how can you use these research results in your own personal exercise plan? One way is to keep a calendar, notebook, or log of your past exercise sessions. Look back on these records and remind yourself how far you have come. There are several exercise apps that can help you record your exercise; look back over your progress; and think positively about what you have already accomplished.
Another idea would be to keep a photograph on display that reminds you of a positive memory related to exercise. Look at the photo and think back on your past success to motivate you for next time.
You could also keep a video of yourself on your phone that reminds you of a past success or a happy memory related to exercise. The video does not have to be anything fancy. In the study, participants were primed to exercise more just by recalling a positive memory related to exercise, so even just a video of yourself that you make upon completing a goal should go a long way towards helping with motivation.
Now, a key component of this strategy is having some positive memories related to exercise to draw upon. If you do not have a lot of those, then it is important to create some, which is part of why almost every expert on exercise emphasizes the importance of finding an exercise you like. Doing your exercise in a place you like can help with this, as can exercising with a friend or family member.
Everyone’s motivation flags from time to time, but this study offers an important window in how to get your motivation back on track.
Greg Bing, M.Ed., A.C.E. Certified Trainer, Youth Fitness Specialist
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