Post By: Steve Graef, PhD | Wednesday, March 4, 2020


Let's get physical…physical. Match maker, match maker….We want to get physical…physical….make me a match…

I know we are going a little hard to the paint on motivation and exercise this new year, but let's face it, weight loss and physical fitness is a muti billion dollar industry for a reason. Each year a lot of people purchase passes, explore equipment, seek services or buy books, only to cancel, sell, skip, or donate when they figure out their fitness goal train is derailed once again. So let's hone in on exercise a little bit more while adding to the topic of motivation that we discussed yesterday.

Remember when I said that there are a lot of sources of motivational gas that can propel us closer to our ideal selves? I wasn't lying. There are, and though we solely wrote about social motivation and how to leverage it, it might be worthwhile to expand our motivation discussion a bit, particularly in how it relates specifically to exercise. First let me address some PDSD - post dissertation stress disorder. What I am about to share with you was a critical basis for my doctoral research project. As such, I got up close and personal, to my mental demise, with the framework and accompanying assessment that follows. Enter…(deep breaths Steve, deep breaths Steve), the Exercise Motivation Inventory by David Markland.

Though my dissertation proved to be mentally, physically, and emotionally straining, this measure was actually quite enlightening. Essentially, what Dr. Markland discovered was that there are 14 different motivations or reasons for why people exercise. As such, if you could decipher why people want to exercise and then offer them activities that match to those motives, you could theoretically help increase sustained behavior (e.g., You'll exercise more regularly) and mental well-being (i.e., You'll hate exercise less when doing it). So today, I would like to offer you a brief summary of these 14 motives, as well as provide a link to the assessment, so that you can more deliberately choose the method of exercise/physical activity/fitness that most closely matches the motive that you want out of it. Doing so, as mentioned previously, will help you do it and enjoy it…more.

The Fourteen Motives for Exercising

Stress Management: Wow, that was such a relief. I needed that!

Revitalization: I feel like I could take on the world now! I'm hyped!

Enjoyment: I just love exercise! I truly just enjoy doing it!

Challenge: I'm going to get one more rep today!

Social Recognition: Hey instagram, I just left Equinox!

Affiliation: Let's get a post-spinning mimosa together!

Competition: I finished the 5k first!

Health Pressures: Doc told me I have high blood pressure, so here I am.

Ill-Health Avoidance: Ever since I started exercising my risk of diabetes has gone down.

Positive Health: I love exercising! It keeps all my levels in the normal range and mentally I'm more with it.

Weight Management: I need to lose some pounds! I need to gain some pounds!

Appearance: I love the way I look in a swim suit now.

Strength and Endurance: I'm feeling so strong and that I could run forever.

Nimbleness: I'm really loving this flexibility. I can tie my shoes and not worry about pulling my back.

There ya go! Any of those motives sound familiar or more appealing to you? Why do you think you exercise? Any reasons why you're damn sure you don't? Check out the written inventory to see where you land (assessment starts on page 3, and the scoring key is on page 7). You might have also had some particular activities in mind while you went through those motives. For me, it's hard not to think about yoga as a nimbleness activity, water aerobics for affiliation, or triathlons for endurance. However, those are my matches and may not line up for you. Maybe yoga helps you feel strong and enjoy the Tri-culture. Whatever it is, find out what your desired motive(s) are and then consider what activities are out there that match. Doing so will help you enjoy the exercise more and increase the likelihood that you keep doing it.

One final thought, though referring to exercise above, I also believe that we can match methods more often in many aspects of our lives. For instance, maybe you want to enhance your creativity. Well, journaling could do that, but so too could improv classes. Same outcome (creativity), but a huge difference in method (solitary vs social). So key take away, whether talking exercise, creativity, or any other goal pursuit, consider your general and specific motivators (e.g., why you tend to like things), and then match your method to that motive. That, my goal crushing friends, is how you make your methods match.

Hey, match maker, let's get physical.