I want to discuss tips for building an exercise habit because this weekend, I started another new book:
This book focuses on one of my strange fascinations: habits. I am one of those people who find habit building easier than most. I decide I want to do something every day and I do. If I fall off or get derailed, I easily pick myself back up and get on track again. The book starts off with a chapter on knowing yourself and how it is important to know what works for you and what doesn’t in terms of forming habits. Specifically, Gretchen Rubin talks about the concept of the Four Tendencies and how it relates to your readiness and willingness to meet expectations.
She has a quiz on her website to find out your tendency (I’m an Upholder) –
Flashback to Undergrad
As I was reading this, I was thinking about habit formation in terms of exercise. Why some people find it easier to build an exercise or healthy eating habit than others. And why some people even suddenly stop their healthy habits altogether. This thought process brought me back to some of the concepts and information that I learned in my Sport and Exercise Psychology class in undergrad. Specifically, I felt this related to people’s different motivations when it comes to engaging in physical activity. For sake of simplicity, people can either be intrinsically motivated or extrinsically motivated to engage in a certain activity.
Check out the picture below for a simple example of the difference:
Adhering to Exercise Habits
In general, the people who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to continue to engage in the activity. The logic here being that if someone is extrinsically motivated, once the reward is accomplished (weight loss, running a certain distance, etc…), there is no reason to engage in the activity anymore. However, if someone is intrinsically motivated, they have a greater likelihood of making a habit out of the behavior because it is something they enjoy.
Connecting the Four Tendencies to Motivation
The first chapter of Gretchen’s book focused mainly on the importance of understanding your tendency in order to know how to foster the ideal environment for you to start forming habits. I believe that knowing your motivation for the specific habit is important to consider when it comes to adherence. Together, these two concepts can provide you with insight into how to set yourself up for success and provide valuable tips for building (and adhering to) an exercise habit.
- Determine the specific habit you want to start – write it down somewhere you will see it every day
- Take the Four Tendency Quiz to figure out which tendency you are
- Reflect on your past motivations when fostering similar (or even the same) habit
- Make a plan to start your habit – referring to your tendency and motivation(s)