Is it possible that many people stay away from physical activity and that the motivational tips from sports psychologists are not the appropriate means?
Almost everyone wants to be more active, but most people don’t do it. The World Health Organisation recommends two and a half hours of physical activity per week, plus two sessions of strength training, which only just under four to ten percent of people in the West achieve. This article looks at the reasons for this from a new perspective: it is not our mind but our feelings that decide whether we are active or not. The call to be be more physical active is primarily addressed to the head: move more and you will live longer and healthier! However, the mind can’t fight the feeling, and appeals to exercise or good intentions are therefore often useless.
Until now, the rule has been: to integrate physical activity into everyday life, you have to set goals, believe in success, plan concrete steps and then stick to them with self-discipline. However, many people do not succeed in this. The article explains the “intention-behaviour gap” – a chasm between intention and implementation. “In the past, the way people feel during physical activity has been ignored, and it is the feeling that determines whether we want to repeat the movement or not,” a leading professor of exercise psychology is quoted as saying.
Thus, the article also sheds light on the previously believed reason for the rise in mood after exercise. The question arose as to why people do not do more often what gives them a good mood. Only a new approach led psychologists on the right track. They asked people about their feelings not only before and after, but also during sport. And here they found a correlation: the better the people felt during the training, the more likely they were to participate in further training sessions. So the article states, that if you want to be more physically active, you should not only focus on good intentions, goals and self-control, but rather try to link exercise with positive feelings and to learn to love it.