Simply switching to a new and unfamiliar aerobic exercise could be enough to increase your motivation to work out in the future, according to a new study.
The month of January sees the highest rate of gym registrations, and yet over a third of people who join this month will quit by the first two weeks of February. Many of us struggle to maintain a consistent exercise regime, but the same repetitive aerobics don’t leave us with enough motivation to continue.
The importance of regular exercise has been widely known for a long time: lack of exercise has been linked to increased risk of a range of conditions such as stroke, depression and breast cancer, and it is has also been linked with reductions in to decreased life expectancy. Even with research showing that exercise increases the ever-so-vital levels of dopamine in our brains, over 31% of adults worldwide are still insufficiently active.
New research suggests that participating in unfamiliar aerobic exercises could be the key to not only having increased positive feelings after a workout, but could also lead to an increase in the intention for more aerobic exercise in the future.
In a recent study reported in the journal Psychology & Health, women from different ages and backgrounds were divided into two groups and asked to perform two different types of aerobic exercise for 30 minutes. One group performed a common and familiar aerobic exercise (walking) while the other group performed an unfamiliar aerobic exercise (hula-hooping). The women were then instructed to rate their overall mood and willingness to participate in aerobic exercises in the next month. Women who hula-hooped reported higher ratings of positive affect and stronger intentions to exercise in the next month compared to the women who walked.
With such a strong influence on physical and mental health, it’s obvious that exercise needs to be done on a regular basis, but motivation continues to be one of the main reasons it is avoided. By switching up routines and trying unfamiliar workouts, you might just get that surge of motivation you’ve been looking for.
Courtney J. Stevens, Jane Ellen Smith & Angela D. Bryan (2016) “A pilot study of women’s affective responses to common and uncommon forms of aerobic exercise” Psychology & Health, 31:2, 239-257
Written by Alexandra Lostun, BSc.