New research from Iowa State University may help people who are struggling to make exercise a fun habit rather than an unpleasant chore.
Alison Phillips, an assistant professor of psychology at ISU, says people are more likely to stick with exercise if they choose an activity they might eventually enjoy.
“That won’t happen right off the bat, but the good news is the more you do a behavior, any type of exercise, the more you’ll like it. But, I think it’s important for people to start out choosing something that they like relatively more than other activities,” Phillips says.
Previous studies have found, for many people, exercise becomes easier when it’s part of a regular schedule. Phillips says it’s also helpful for people to notice physical or “external” benefits of exercise.
“Those are very important because the more you are rewarded with those external goals — if you lose weight or you become more fit – – that will make you like the exercise activity itself more,” Phillips says. “That’s what I would refer to as an internal reward, something internal to exercise…so, liking the activity itself, not just what it brings to you.”
Phillips’ study involved monitoring the activity levels for people just starting to work out along with those who had been exercising regularly for at least three months. The results are published in the journal Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology.
Photo courtesy of ISU.