The most prevalent and comprehensive definition of motivation is ‘the propensity for the direction and selectivity of behaviour to be controlled by its links to consequences, and the inclination of this behaviour to persevere until a goal is realised.
A specific iteration of motivation that pertains to fitness deals with what is called intrinsic motivation. In essence, intrinsic motivation is a person’s choice to participate in selected behaviours due to feelings of pleasure, satisfaction, personal fulfilment, and proficiency in the absence of external prizes. The individual’s behaviour is driven by his or her need to feel self-determining and capable in dealing with their environment. The significance of constructing intrinsic motivation toward exercise behaviour, therefore, is based on reinforcing the individual’s needs that will result in longstanding commitment to adhere to an exercise routine. For one, social support is a large predictor of exercise faithfulness. It is important that people not feel that they are partaking in this new and quite tough ride alone. Commendation and other kinds of motivational testimonials, exercise accompaniment and companionship, and training are each fonts of social support. Moreover, goals serve the purposes of helping exercisers focus their energies on wanted tasks which, when executed properly, will lead to looked-for outcomes.
Setting goals also offers information that echoes accomplishment and success. Goals should be grounded on detailed performance outcomes that are noticeable or quantifiable, achievable yet challenging, be stated positively (not destructively), and offered in both short-term and long-term form. One of the most important aspects of physical activity is that it should be fun. Activities that are fun are vastly satisfying. People will partake in and adhere to these activities over the long-term. Intrinsic motivation is a significant part of exercise participation. It is classic to evade activities in which we feel inept or do not find entertaining, while favouring activities in which we are fruitful and feel a sense of accomplishment.
• Anshel, Mark H. Applied exercise psychology a practitioner’s guide to improving client health and fitness. New York, NY: Springer Pub., 2006.
• Blair, S.N., A.N. Dunn, B.H. Marcus, R.A. Carpenter, and P. Jaret. 2001. Active Living Every Day. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.