Two out of three men are overweight and one out of six adults is obese – and these numbers are increasing every year. Engaging in regular physical activity seems to have become a tall order for the everyday man; put on the back-burner to life’s other demands. But physical inactivity doesn’t just affect your long term health; it directly affects your immediate quality of life, mental functioning and even sexual well-being. In fact, a recent study revealed a strong correlation between physical inactivity and erectile dysfunction. It is easy to recognize that we need to engage regular physically active but doing so doesn’t just happen; it takes motivation. For anyone having trouble finding or maintaining that motivation, here are some points to help get and keep you physically active:
Understanding the benefits
Being physically active has extensive beneﬁts for your body including, but not limited to, reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, diabetes and even breast cancer (yes, men get it too!). Exercise has also been proven to improve digestion, endurance, blood circulation, immune functioning and improve overall mental health -- reducing stress, increasing mental focus and improving self-esteem. In addition, exercising regularly not only reduces fatty tissue but it can even increase the ability at which your body is able to metabolize fatty tissue.
Psychology researchers have long demonstrated that there are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation refers to all of the external factors that encourage you to complete an activity for some form of external reward (incentive). An example of this would be competing in a sporting event with the goal of winning a trophy, money or any other form of external reward. Intrinsic motivation refers to the motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself (internal reward). No external reward is present with intrinsic motivation; you are simply participating in an activity for your own self-actualization, pleasure or personal gratification for reasons unique to yourself. Extrinsic motivation is short lasting and actually makes people less likely to participate in an activity in the absence of the external reward (i.e. you might only workout when you are guaranteed a trophy or money) but intrinsic motivation is long lasting and results in continue regular engagement in an activity.
Finding Intrinsic Motivation
There are a plethora of options when it comes to staying fit. The key is to find an activity that you genuinely enjoy doing so that the activity is the motivation in itself. Figure out activities you enjoy and try to incorporate them into your daily or weekly routine. Remember, you don’t have to limit yourself to the gym. Physical activity is anything that gets you moving and takes significant energy on your part. If you really enjoy being around people maybe consider joining a recreation sports league sports or finding a buddy to play regular games of tennis. If you really enjoy nature, perhaps hiking or rock climbing would be a great fit for you. Swimming, jogging and dancing are just a few of the many other options. You can also pair your workouts with music you like, or music that gets you excited, to help make the experience more enjoyable and more productive.
Goal setting is a great way to reinforce what you are working towards and breaking up a larger goal into smaller components on a timeline is a great way to establish a sense of urgency. Little goals and little accomplishments along the way will also make the overall journey seem less daunting and help subdue feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. When setting goals, set realistic goals around your physical and mental limits. Setting the bar too high (or in too short of a timeframe) will only work to diminish your motivation; possibly leading to forfeiture. Conversely, setting the bar too low is also counterproductive and could lead to dismissal or complete apathy. So set your goals around realistic marks that you confidently feel you can reach but that still push you near your limits.
Feedback is important to maintaining your engagement so it is a good idea to monitor your progress. Start by taking your “before” measurements of size and weight -- and don’t be shy to include a front and side photos of yourself in your swimwear. Then, after you have begun regularly working out, take weekly measurements and record them in a properly labelled log. Every month take an updated swimwear photograph and include the labelled photos in your log. Being able to reflect back with your log and see the results of your hard work is a sure-fire way to engaged. Including a by-line every week in your log to state how hard you feel you worked that week is a great way to prove to yourself that your results are determined by your effort; it may even push you to work harder.
Keeping it Going
The easier you can make a healthy lifestyle fit into your routine, the better your chances are for staying active. Carefully plan and reorganize your schedule to make it as easy as possible to fit exercise your regular routine. Whether it’s an hour a day or a few hours once per week, making it an easy inclusion will help ensure your success. If you can find a workout partner or a fitness buddy, you can create amotivation valuable social element to your activity that will keep you engaged and you can help encourage each other to keep at it and enforce schedules. Lastly, you should remember that the hardest part is simply starting. Starting truly is your biggest obstacle, everything after that is one step closer to your fitness goals.