Sent on behalf of Aubrey Newland, Associate Professor of Sport & Exercise Psychology
Self-care…sigh. Is that really a thing for professors? Yes! One way of making sure we have our own backs is to make time for regular physical activity in our lives. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and 2 days of muscle strengthening per week, but the majority of people across the United States struggle to meet these guidelines.
Why is it important?
Regular physical activity (PA) has more benefits than just the obvious physical ones. For example, did you know that physical activity improves mood, cognition, and confidence? The connection between physical activity and general well-being is well-studied. There are massive amounts of evidence extolling the benefits of exercise! We have the physiological and psychological evidence that it is good for us. So why aren’t most of us meeting the daily guidelines for PA?
Tips for Overcoming Barriers
For many people it boils down to lack of time and motivation. Based on research in the field of exercise psychology, here are a few practical tips for increasing motivation:
- You don’t have to exercise so intensely that it hurts! Research shows that as exercise intensity increases, emotion (affect) decreases.
- Start slow and have realistic expectations.
- Do something you enjoy. Exercise is more likely to be done if you enjoy it! A recent research article supported the idea that enjoyment leads to more regular exercise adherence. Another article highlighted the importance of fun as a key to regular exercise.
- Make it a habit.
- Reflect on your values and see if they align with your priorities (actions) in life. For instance, what are you spending most of your time doing each day? How does that time spent align with what you say you value?
How do I fit PA into my schedule?
- Plan it into your day. Block it off on your calendar. This is called implementation intentions. Sign up for a class and take a friend. If you take time to sign up for a class, you’re more likely to go.
- Do a little each day. Here are some examples of manageable ways to fit it in.
- Take advantage of small opportunities! For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator when you have the choice. Or park farther away at the grocery store.
Keep an eye out in the first month of each semester for announcements about enrolling in PA counseling sessions that target motivational issues. Students in the Kinesiology Department offer this service as part of an upper-division course for staff, faculty, and community members. Contact Aubrey Newland for more information or to reserve your spot for next semester!