Iowa State University assistant professor of psychology Alison Phillips recently published research on the need for intrinsic rewards in developing an exercising habit, as opposed to cues or external rewards.
“If someone doesn’t
like to exercise it’s always going to take convincing,” Phillips said. “People
are more likely to stick with exercise if they don’t have to deliberate about
whether or not to do it.”
rewards, such as weight loss, are excellent motivation for a person to being a
workout regimen, they are typically not enough to develop a a long-term habit.
Instead, Phillips found that intrinsic rewards, such as physiological benefits
from endorphins or simply enjoying time spent with a friend, are necessary for
people to form habits such that they do not debate whether or not they should
exercise when given a cue.
“What we’re aiming for
is lifestyle change and interventions to date have not achieved these long-term
lifestyle changes,” Phillips said. “There are fairly simple strategies that
have not yet been tried to help people develop exercise habits for life.
Although the strategies may be easy, implementing and sticking to them may prove
quite difficult. It may be a classic high-risk, high-reward endeavor.”
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