What has motivated you to be where you are today? Are you competitive? Curious? Are you driven by a sense of purpose or will to succeed? Do you seek out challenges, validation, or feedback to push even harder? Whether motivated by money, fear, guilt, personal values or pleasure, our reasons can have a profound influence on our mindset and behaviours (physical activity or otherwise). That is, unless we aren’t motivated in the first place. Many people are aware of the benefits to physical activity, yet lack the motivation to start. Or they have been motivated to start by prizes or guilt, never internalize their reasons to be active, and thus fail to adhere in the long-term. Just 5 minutes of activity can change our life…if performed daily and structured to accommodate our motivational state. With the right mindset, this daily movement practice (or five minutes of fun!) may counter the negative influences of physical inactivity, promote intrinsic motivation and maximize quality of life. Small steps can lead to BIG CHANGE!
While intrinsically motivated (e.g. active for enjoyment, excitement and challenge) people are more likely to maintain a physically active lifestyle in the long-term (i.e. adherence), extrinsic motives can (and perhaps should) be used along the way to engage, excite and empower. Extrinsic factors can motivate us to start something new, persevere, and redefine performance. However, one of the potential limitations to being motivated in this way is becoming complacent when the incentive disappears. This is why knowing what factors regulate our motivation to exercise can help to create a physically active lifestyle – one in which small steps are made every day to cultivate a growth mindset, develop physical literacy, and maximize quality of life.
Small steps to support a daily movement practice
- Turn it into a game. Provide incentives to initiate activity by creating a contest or game (e.g. step count, Pokémon go). While incentives can be a great way to help someone become active, but they shouldn’t be relied on to keep them active in the long term.
- Vary the type of activities. Integrate activities that are viewed as more meaningful, simple, fun, etc. Variation can also help to develop physical literacy, confidence and keep people engaged in the long term.
- Create daily or weekly challenges. Look for opportunities to challenge yourself or your friends. Find something that will keep you motivated and engaged.
- Establish a new health or fitness goal. Target something specific such as mobility, awareness, aerobic capacity, etc.
- Build opportunity for social interaction. Support a sense of relatedness by providing opportunity to interact with others.
- Create opportunities to explore. Learn a new skill. Use new activities and new challenges to engage, excite and empower.