‘Positive Approach to Exercise’ written by Kat Millar and published in Great Health Guide (July 2017). The word “exercise” can evoke positive or negative feelings in people. Some feel excited by the prospect and reward from a great exercise regime however others may lack the motivation to start one. However, with the correct attitude, mindset and positive language, one may be able to motivate themselves to follow a fitness routine that suits them. Fitness expert Kat Millar shares her ideas on how to create a more positive approach to exercise and how people can empower themselves with positive language.
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FITNESS: Positive Approach to Exercise
written by Kat Millar
Exercise! What are your feelings when you think about that word? Exercise is something that evokes a mix of emotions in people. Some people think of the buzz, the endorphins and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from it. Others think of exercise and picture a sweaty, painful mess where they would rather be doing anything but that. Is this you?
Whether you love or hate it, I think we can agree that we all need to exercise. Here are three tips that will help you to create a more positive association with exercise.
1. Replace disempowering language with empowering language.
Since our feelings are driven by our thoughts, what we think about exercise and what we tell ourselves is vital in creating positive feelings. Our thoughts create language inside our mind and our language (internal and external) is so powerful when it comes to our emotions. Using the right language helps increase our motivation to create new habits.
Changing your language is like any skill – it can be learned. We can change our thought habits around our association with exercise. Best of all, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort.
By adopting the following simple changes to your language, this can create more positive feelings about exercise.
The following three words are typically associated with a feeling of obligation, pressure and demand.
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They are: HAVE, NEED and SHOULD. In other words, external motivation which can be very disempowering. Compare this to internal motivation where exercise can help you fulfill other values and goals – such as looking great, having more energy and being more confident.
To increase your desire to exercise, replace the words HAVE, NEED and SHOULD with CHOOSE, WANT and GET. These three words are typically associated with choice, freedom, passion and gratitude. This can give you a better feeling of control and empowerment. Here’s an example:
‘I have to exercise more’. Well, you don’t have to; you choose to. No one can make you. Replace this with, ‘I want to/choose to/get to exercise more’.
Another example is, ‘I should do some cardio’. Replace this with ‘I want to exercise more’, even if part of you feels like you don’t! You’ll probably feel more empowered and excited about it.
Keep saying the empowering statements to yourself to create the desire. Like social psychologist Amy Cuddy says, ‘Fake it until you become it’.
2. Speak positive statements.
As well as those three words, it helps to speak positive statements – whether out loud or to yourself. Here are some examples:
• I am excited about who I’m becoming• I feel amazing when I honour my commitments to myself
• My body is getting stronger and healthier everyday
Pick one or more of these statements that resonate with you, or create your own. The main thing is that you find them exciting and believable.
3. Ensure your senses are aligned to enjoy exercise.
Another powerful way to create a positive association with exercise, is to align your senses to look forward to the ritual of exercise, rather than dread it. To do this, think of how we can better please each of our senses.
• Sight. What we look at when we exercise is important in maintaining our enjoyment. Compare staring at a wall for 45 minutes while sweating away on a cardio machine, to running in nature. Compare working out in a dingy garage to a bright room with large windows.
• Touch. Think about the feel that you like on your skin: a hot room, air conditioning, the sun, a cool breeze? What’s your preference? I know we need to commit to moving despite our environment, but why not make it as pleasant for ourselves as possible?
• Sound. Do you love working out to hardcore or mellow mood music? Do you like being around the grunts of other people or do you prefer silence? How about listening to YouTube clips with positive encouragement? What we listen to can make or break our fun-factor.
• Smell. Maybe you could treat yourself to a spray of your favourite perfume every time you’re about to exercise. You could use a certain scent only when you’re about to train, so that merely the smell of it makes you want to get your body moving.
• Taste. How about having your favourite healthy smoothie after your workout every time, for something to look forward to?
I hope that I have given you some fun ideas to create more positive associations with exercise. Pick any that resonate with you and apply them today.
Author of this article:
Kusal Goonewardena is an experienced physiotherapist, lecturer, consultant and mentor to thousands of physiotherapy students around the world. Kusal has authored books including: Low Back Pain – 30 Days to Pain Free; 3 Minute Workouts; and co-authored Natural Healing: Quiet and Calm. Kusal consults via his clinic, Elite Akademy.