Stop waiting for January and start exercising now AND stick to it with some simple methods backed by science.
Grab a cuppa and a notepad & pen to read this very helpful guest blog post by Dr Gemma Hutton an Associate Lecturer in Health Psychology at Birbeck University.
Let’s turn that motivation into action!
You want to exercise. You really do but somehow everything else seems to get in the way. If only there was a way to transform wanting to exercise into actually doing it. Well… I’m here to tell you that there is a very simple and research backed way to help turn your motivation into action.
Write down your plan of action specifying the:
That you intend to exercise.
You could put it in your phone, you could write it on a post it note, you could make beautiful little cards. Whatever floats your boat. The important thing is you are very specific. I’ll give you some examples.
“I will do a Pilates class on Tuesday at 10am at home”
”I will go running on Friday morning at 9am in the park”.
The really important part of this is that you state when, where and what you will be doing. Sounds too simple, right? Does that really work, I hear you say?
Here comes the science…. These detailed plans are called implementation intentions and they are a form of self-regulatory strategy. They are often referred to as IF-THEN plans because they turn an environmental cue (IF it’s Tuesday at 10am) into an action (THEN I’m doing Pilates).
There is a huge research base showing that they are really effective at helping us to turn wanting to do something into actually doing it. In fact, research has shown these simple plans can double your chances of performing a behaviour.
A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology (Milne et al, 2002) found that in a group of 248 people who wanted to exercise regularly, 91% of those who made implementation intentions reported exercising the following week compared to just over a third of those who did not make specific plans. This has been replicated across many research studies exploring lots of different behaviours. The message was clear. Those people who make specific and clear plans about performing a behaviour are much more likely to perform that behaviour.
How does it work? By making a specific plan linked to a time, place and location, you are creating cues to trigger your action. Instead of relying on just your desire to exercise, your environment suddenly becomes a giant trigger to get your leggings on, find your Pilates ball and get going!
There are some caveats here… you have to want to perform the behaviour and you have to feel capable of performing the behaviour. There’s not much point making a plan for doing tightrope walking on a Thursday morning if you don’t know how to do it or planning to eat radishes at every meal when you really don’t like radishes.
But, if there is something you would really like to do and you feel confident to do it, making a specific plan about when, where and what you will do, might just help that behaviour become a healthy habit!
Milne, S., Orbell, S. & Sheeran, P. (2002). Combining motivational and volitional interventions to promote exercise participation: Protection Motivation Theory and Implementation Intentions. British Journal of Health Psychology, 7, 163 – 184.
You’ve heard it from Dr Hutton so now is the time to plan your exercise and stick to it!
If you need accountability then sign up for one of my Pilates or Barre classes either in person or online:
Or join my online Total Barre with Emmeline membership to benefit from both standing and floor based workouts in my On Demand library that you can access anytime. The best of both worlds!
Learn more here: