Setting exercise goals & improving motivation Knowledge Base
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Setting goals and getting motivated for exercise.

Want to get motivated for exercise?

Following from our previous article on the overall benefits of exercise, let’s now look in greater detail at which types of exercise to choose, how to set goals and to get motivated.

When choosing a new exercise to try, spend five minutes thinking about why you may want to start a new exercise:

  1. Response to recent ill health / diagnosis.
  2. Pain relief / symptom management.
  3. Weight management.
  4. Improve overall health / well-being.
  5. Training for a specific event eg: charity fun run.
  6. Meet new people.
Gym fitness class

Look to set some achievable goals and rather than ‘get fitter’ labels, aim to make your goals “SMART”: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Bound. For example:

Having consulted a relevant health professional to confirm it is safe, Susan has decided to join her local running beginners group (such as the Marple Runners Pub to Parkrun). Her objective is to improve her cardiovascular fitness and reduce her lower back pain.

Susan sets attainable short and long-term goals, which act as motivation both to keep her attending as well as realistic, so they do not become a source of frustration. What else can help? Once you’ve ‘got going with this exercising’ that’s it, isn’t it? Unfortunately not! If you’re like 99% of us, there will be periods when it is not possible to exercise due to work or family commitments, injury or travel and early momentum could be lost.

SpecificImprove cardiovascular fitness.
MeasurableTo increase running distance from 500m to 5km without stopping due to shortness of breath.
AttainableIt is realistic that Susan can attend the suggested twice weekly running programme every week for the next 9 weeks.
RealisticSusan has been advised by her GP that running can improve lung capacity.
Time BoundTo achieve goal by end of the 9 week programme (short-term)
To be able to run 5km in 30 minutes after 12 months (long-term).

Intrinsic motivation is our own sense of well-being and enjoyment derived from exercising. That’s all you need and it’s always present.

Extrinsic motivation is an external factor that keeps us attending: for example, you allow yourself to have a chocolate bar afterwards or your team mate will ‘name-and-shame’ you on Facebook if you miss a session! If these ‘incentives’ were not there, would you still go?

Both types of motivation can be helpful, especially in the beginning. It can also be beneficial in cultivating an inner sense of reward to help you to be consciously aware of how exercise helps you to feel better. It may well be the key to keep us exercising in the long-term.

Variety is another great way to keep going your ‘exercise mojo’ going. As discussed in our last article, different sports offer different benefits, so it is always advisable to cross-train (this means regularly do two or more different types of sports). This will help maximise health benefits and also provide contingency in case of event, for example:

  • You can do non-weight-bearing mat work if you have twisted your ankle
  • You can stay indoors if the rain is torrential
  • Have a sport that does not require equipment for when you’re travelling
  • Try something brand new every couple of years or so; there are so many different sports out there, don’t think there’s only one for you!

Remember: it might be hard sometimes to get there, but you will always be pleased you went!

If you are unsure of what level of activity or type of exercise is suitable for you, then please contact our clinic and one of our Physiotherapy team will happily have a free telephone consultation with you. For those looking to return to exercise safely, we are delighted to recommend qualified personal trainers Ben Potter and Olly Freeman from VIDE Fitness.

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* Please note: If your treatment costs are to be paid directly by your health insurance company, we kindly ask that you contact us by phone or email to arrange your appointment.

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