Going to the gym is something most of us set as a personal goal at some point of our life. Typically, around new year’s, there’s a wave of new gym goers and goal setters. There are many reasons as to why we may be influenced to begin exercising routinely and believe it or not, these influences play a huge role on the outcome of our fitness journeys. It’s often said that motivation doesn’t last and this is proven to be true. People are usually temporarily inspired to do something and when things may get rough or not go as planned, they are less inclined to work towards the goal they set for themselves. It is important to know that the reason behind our goal setting is concrete. You should have what is referred to as a “why.” A “why” is a reason or purpose for which you are doing something that is solid and stimulating. It should move you and encourage you on the days you may not be as driven. Your “why” can come from either internal or external factors, or may even come from a combination of both. Internal factors are things from within that provide intrinsic motivation. External factors are things that provide extrinsic motivation. Below I have identified some examples of each and further explained their effects.
Intrinsic motivation comes from engaging in an activity because its personally rewarding. People who are intrinsically motivated will exercise for their own sake rather than for something externally. They want to lose weig
ht, gain muscle, or feel better about themselves. They may find exercise enjoyable, or like the challenge of training.
Extrinsic motivation comes from engaging in an activity for a reward or to avoid punishment/negative feedback. If you are exercising because you don’t want to be body shamed, or because you want to win a prize, this is an external factor. Anything that motivates you from an outward source is an extrinsic factor.
Why does this matter?
Studies have shown that if you are doing something merely for an external reward, you are more inclined to stop participating in the activity if you no longer value the award as you once did. Working towards a reward can make the task seem like work rather than something enjoyable, and this can affect your willingness to continue participating. On average, internally motivated individuals perform better at their tasks than externally motivated people. On the other hand, those with a combination of both internal and external motivators perform best. If you are considering starting an exercise program, you should have a clear understanding of why you are doing it. You should also find something you enjoy doing as a form of exercise to maximize your chances of sticking to it. This will make your fitness journey much more enjoyable in the long run.