Why do we give up on the gym so quickly?

There are numerous studies showing that the knowledge that physical activity is good for your health is not a decisive factor for people in actually being physically active. Most people relate exercise to being healthier, and yet most of us are sedentary.

Similarly, statistics show that 25-30% of people abandon their fitness routines in the first 10-15 weeks, not even giving themselves enough time to improve their physical condition.

Why, even though we recognise the importance of being active and doing physical exercise do we have this initial resistance to starting a fitness routine? Why, once we´ve started training do we give up before we´ve improved our physical condition?

Minimum adjustment threshold for enjoyment

The use of the term threshold refers to a way of adapting so something becomes the norm, in this sense related to taking up exercise. It´s based on the idea that somebody exercising needs to have a minimum physical capacity or fitness level, and it is once they have reached this level that they can get a sense of enjoyment from the exercise.

This threshold is different for each person. So what does it depend on?

The minimum adjustment enjoyment threshold is related to the intrinsic motivation, the satisfaction obtained from doing the activity itself. It has nothing to do with the extrinsic or external motivation that encourages many people to go to the gym, the want to look good or be socially accepted.
But how can physical activity become satisfying enough that we don´t need external motivations? Intrinsic motivation is obtained through control over the activity; knowledge of the activity, confidence whilst doing it and being able to see adequate levels of progression.

So to reach the level of inner motivation that means we won´t give up on the gym, we should:

  • Do activities that are suited to our level.
  • Choose activities that we enjoy doing (one of the most important things in creating a habit is generating positive responses).
  • Only start new activities when we´ve mastered the previous ones.
  • Work on the base skills; force, speed, resistance and flexibility. High performance levels are not as important as reaching a level of physical ability that means the gym won´t leave us feeling bitter.
  • Motivate ourselves by doing group activities or exercising with friends until we reach the stage where we enjoy physical activity for itself.

In conclusion To prevent us from giving up on the gym so quickly we´ve got to obtain the minimal adjustment enjoyment threshold that will enable us to enjoy physical activity. For this to happen we need to persist until we have acquired the base physical condition and a technical knowledge of the practice. Isn´t it more satisfying to practise an instrument when we are able to play a tune? Isn´t it more enjoyable to watch sports when we understand the rules of the game? …What do you think?

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