Motivation. A word commonly expressed when discussing activity or exercise. Often, motivation or lack thereof, is stated as one of our main barriers to being active. However, motivation also holds the key to building long lasting habits and sustainable changes in our life. It affects us all in many different ways and in different aspects of our lives. Challenges to our motivation are ever present, especially given the current circumstances we face. So, it’s time to look at motivation more closely. What does motivation mean exactly? 

Simply described, motivation is the reason we act or behave in a particular way. In more detail, motivation is the process that begins, develops, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Motivation can be internal (known as intrinsic motivation) and external (known as extrinsic motivation). Intrinsic motivation relates to the personal satisfaction we get from a particular behaviour, such as a sense of fulfillment or happiness. Extrinsic motivation is when we are motivated by external factors such as money or praise. In relation to exercise, motivation is said to be more powerful and sustainable when it’s intrinsic. The key is often aligning why we exercise and what we hope to achieve.

Reason

What is the reason we exercise? Common reasons for exercise may include looking after your health (mental and physical), training for sport or competition, for fun and enjoyment or for aesthetics and self- confidence. Whatever your reason may be, it is important to find it, understand it and explore it as this is your driver? For example, if your reason to exercise is to improve your health, look into that a little more and ask yourself what it means to you. What aspects of your health are you wanting to improve and how does this affect your life? Finding the answer to these questions may strengthen your motivation. 

Goals

Having goals help us apply a specific focus to our behaviour and exercise routine. Goals can be both short and long term and are best developed using the SMART acronym. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. Eg walking 3km, five days a week by next month