Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh I love the gym!” or “I’m totally addicted to running!” and you just want to roll your eyes. This may be true for you if you are like me. It is hard for me to get into an exercise routine. I know that it makes me feel great and it is great for my body and life but I never find myself running too much cause I’m totally addicted to it. But wouldn’t it be great if we knew how to make a behavior addictive? Wouldn’t it be great to make exercise addictive inyour life?
Healthy habits are hard to acquire and incorporate into your daily life. Whether you are making the switch to real food, trying out a new healthier lifestyle, or starting an exercise program, you need a game plan that will make the switch easier and exciting.
I got started thinking about this wonderful idea after seeing this video.
She explains how she became addicted to the strive and discusses the psychology of this game that motivates people to walk. She also mentions the addictively boring game that we’ve all at least been invited to… “Farm-ville”.
Here are the basic human needs that she talks about. I will also discuss some ideas on how we can apply this human need to starting an exercise program.
We have a need to be significant. We have a desire to feel we are important and that we matter.
This may come naturally depending on your fitness goals. Perhaps by exercising and achieving a goal it will give us more self confidence. Or maybe just being able to brag about running a marathon makes you feel important. (as my brother in law says.) How do you know if someone is a runner?………………….they’ll tell ya. 🙂 (please excuse the lame joke.)
Being strong may also help you feel important. this is where participating is some sort of performance or competition is very helpful. In this type of situation you are center stage or have a number on your back. People are watching you and you matter. Another thing to do would be to find or come up with challenges or goals and accomplish them.
Or as she did with the strive game create a game in which you control everything.
Certainty and Security:
Our need for Certainty and security keeps us motivated to act. We need to trust that if we do x we will get y. If we stretch we will become more flexible. If we lift weights we will get stronger. If I run on a regular basis it will get easier.
Certainty and security go along with being consistent in your exercise program. Don’t go crazy. Pace yourself and trust that if you just do a little you will get rewarded for it. For some this trust and certainty is already there for others you may have to be diligent to see the consistent rewards of being active consistently.
You could also create some sort of a game or reward system. Say you are trying to run… for each mile that you run you could add a marble to a jar…(once the jar gets so full you give your self a reward) or you could add a dollar to a fun fund for yourself.
This is where a pedometer would come in handy. For each step you take the number increases.
Need for variety and spice in life: When mice are given food when a lever is pushed they push it more when the reward is no constant. Another example of this is the lottery. We don’t always win…actually very rarely do we win but we still buy lottery tickets because it is exciting…and there is always that chance.
Though in running or exercising there is some natural element of this need, I believe the reason races have caught on so well recently is because it fulfills this need. You know you can run the race (that’s the certainty part). The race is what makes it exciting though. You could win a medal or see where you place. And most the time when running in a race your times are way better.
If you don’t want to pay the money for a race or if running isn’t your thing there are still ways to fulfill this need. You may have to be creative depending on your fitness goals. You could have a spouse or friend randomly put marbles in your running jar while you are running or something else that is spontaneous that would motivate you to keep up your routine.
Sometimes just taking a run up the canyon or going on a hike is enough to spice it up. You also get the reward from being in nature and seeing all the beautiful surroundings. You may even spot some wildlife depending on your location. Go exploring!
Another idea here is changing up your routine. Do yoga one day, swim the next, run, play racquetball.
We have a desire and a need to be connected to people. Relationships are what fuels much of what we do. Connection is the reason we form social groups, have babies, stay with our babies.
Have you ever heard you should exercise with a friend? Here’s why. If you are growing closer to someone by what you are doing it is fulfilling your physical activity needs as well as relationship needs. In the video she talks about how she was becoming distant from her family but making connections with others who had a strive. As we determine who we connect with make sure it is the people that you want to be connected with.
Granted this doesn’t have to just someone you work out with. Just the fact that you can talk about your new found passion for yoga or zumba with coworkers or people you know can build connections.
Growth and Progression:
So think about your fitness or health goals. Perhaps some of these elements are already included in your goals. For example: consistency- If I lift weights I will get stronger.
This will be included in most exercise goals…as long as you have clear cut goals. Know what you want and tailor your fitness routine to accomplishing that. Do you want to be stronger, faster, or thinner? Do you just want to be able to run without getting winded? Or maybe you just want to feel better in your day to day life. You could want your joint pain and muscle aches to go away. Or perhaps heal some ailment through fitness.
Whatever it is pay attention to where you are when you start and what is happening as you progress with your fitness goals. If it’s weight-loss keep a measurements chart. Or strength-keep a spreadsheet of the amount of pushups or pullups you can do over time. Measure what you are doing so that you can see the progress. Take a personal before and after pic. Whatever it is just measure your progress. You could get this free exercise journal.
There you have it. If you have a little time and a creative mind you now have the tools to accomplish all your wildest dreams and goals. Ok maybe not quite, but seriously these tools will help you as you are trying to make lifestyle changes or start a new fitness or diet routine.
So share your ideas. What did you do that has helped you “Become addicted to fitness”?
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