As I work with clients, I am astounded and inspired by the commitment and tenacity that many have, to keep on working to achieve their goals.  Not all of us have that drive and desire to work out, go to the gym, or take an exercise class. I decided to do a little research on the psychology of working out and creating the habit of keeping healthy movement a priority.

Studies show that over 60 percent of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity and over 25 percent of adults are not active at all. LINK

There are many reasons why people aren’t moving. I discussed a number of them in my article entitled “Roadblocks”.  As one considers these roadblocks, they are mostly developed in the mind. As we age, we develop neural pathways in our brain, which are like trails carved in the gray matter of our brains.  If we reinforce the thoughts, these trails get deeper and more worn. It becomes easier to resist change.

According to The Athlete’s Way , the author proposes a way to change these limiting thoughts and habits, ie. neural pathways.  He suggests a 4 stage process to change athletic behaviors.

1) Identify:

  • What behavior would you like to have?
  • What behavior do you currently have?

2) Describe:    

  • How and where do you see the behavior?
  • How does the behavior manifest?

3)Predict:

  • What is the expected pattern associated with the behavior?
  • Is there something that triggers the behavior?

4) Control:   

  • What can you do next time to change the outcome?

An example behavior or thought might be “I don’t feel like going for a walk or run, because I’m tired”.  So you go with the thought, and sit down on the couch and turn the TV on. The desired behavior is to walk or run, the actual behavior is to relax and unwind. The behavior manifests after work/school. The trigger occurs after a long day at work, it is easier to sit down than get the jogging gear on.  To change the behavior, try walking or jogging earlier in the day, or go before you get home, possibly avoiding the trigger. In addition, trying an early morning workout might change the outcome as well.

Reward yourself, as you begin to change behaviors and mindsets.  Healthy movement will eventually be a worthwhile investment for both your body and your mind.