To answer that, first, we must look at
Why Do People Quit Fitness Programs
1. No Time – not really! Most often, this is a perceived barrier, not based on reality.
People find time to watch TV for hours in the evening, go for drinks with friends, and surf internet hours after hours. Although the American College of Sports Medicine’s guidelines stated 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercises for health benefits. This is translated to 30 minutes of exercise per day for 5 days. It can be spread in three blocks of 10 minutes throughout the day. So, no time for 10 minutes of exercise for health?
We will allocate the time if we think the activity is important enough for us.
And if we find meaning in our actions in executing the activity.
If someone paid us $1,000 every day to exercise for 30 minutes, would we be too busy? Not if we think the money is important to us, as a means of income for our family’s needs, then yes, we will do it.
1. Find meaning and ask yourself why it is important for you to commit to exercise regularly. Is it for your health? Is it important for you to stay healthy for your family?
How to limit your likelihood of dropping out of your fitness program?
A. Schedule workouts beforehand. Treat the schedule as set in stone (like you would a doctor’s appointment).
B. Get ready the day before: pack the gym bag ready-to-go, pack your water bottle and your banana – eliminate everything that could serve as excuse.
C. Another strategy is to add social pressure. Make an exercise date with a friend. Knowing that your friend is waiting for you and you had to come up with a really good reason to cancel training, might push you to attend your training.
2. Too Much, Too Soon
People are prone to dropping out of their exercise commitment if it does not meet their expectations.
If you expect to lose weight quickly and don’t, you are likely to abandon your fitness routine.
If you expect to gain muscle fast and don’t, it’s likely that you won’t stick to the program.
If you overdo it (and for complete beginners, aerobic activity of three times per week may be “overdoing it” – twice per week may be better to recover from muscle soreness well and get used to exercise), you are more likely to quit.
If you exercise too hard and suffers severe pain and discomfort, you might make your first exercise experience an unpleasant one. You might not want to do the activity again when you are kept reminded of the unpleasantness and discomfort of your exercise experience.
Be realistic. Be kind to yourself. Listen to your body for safety.
A. Make sure your association with exercise is a positive one.
– Think of how accomplished you feel after exercise. Do you feel relaxed after stretches? Do you feel strong and confident?
– Associate exercising with bonding with your friends.
B. Don’t quit: Always remember that healthy lifestyle is not once in a lifetime. It is a lifestyle.
Slowly but surely.
C. Acknowledge your progress. Not what you cannot do.
Celebrate your progress. Write a note of congratulations when you are able to do the extra repetition/set or clock in the earlier minute when you run or lift that extra kilogram, and paste it on your dressing table mirror. Don’t forget to date it so you are tracking your progress. You are also encouraged to put this congratulatory note at your workdesk.
Don’t quit: track your progess and celebrate your success and make it visible. When you see it often enough, your success will be ingained into your brain. Our brain thrives on successes. It will strive to produce more successes.
3. Wrong Kind of Motivation
Intrinsic motivation, that is, motivation which is self-generated and self-determined is more effective than externally imposed efforts to change health behaviors.
“I exercise because I want to. I feel it is my responsibility. I like the feelings of progress. I do it because it’s the means to an end that I value.”
If you exercise or eat well because you think it is important or because you value good health and your quality of life, you will be more likely to stick to it than if you start because of external motivation such as shame or guilt.
An important motivation factor is a person’s physical self-efficacy or confidence in ability to do exercise and be consistent with workouts. Especially among women, the high self believe that one has the ability to do the exercise, translate to better exercise adherence among women.
Self-worth is a key factor in exercise adherence for women. If a woman believes that she is “worth it” (ie I’m worth the cost of a gym membership, the time I spend on myself, etc) then she is more likely to stick to a program.
Find out what motivates you. Educate yourself about the value of physical activity to health and quality of life.
Shift your focus from unrealistic expectations, like losing 20 kg in 10 days, to the positive experiences of exercise, like its effects on mood and the feeling of well-being.
Positive begets positive. Positive internally translate to positive actions and then it goes vice versa.
4. Lack of Enjoyment or Fear of Pain
If you don’t enjoy an activity, you are not going to keep doing it.
Injuries are also a factor in exercise dropout.
Pick exercises that you like. Learn how to warm up and cool down to prevent injury. Learn how to exercise with good alignment thus reducing risk of injuries.
Be very clear on the meaning of the term “no pain, no gain”.
Pain here means muscle soreness discomfort, which will clear in due time with muscle recovery.
5. Poor Access to Exercise Facilities or Unpleasant Exercise Environment.
Easy access to exercise facilities enhances exercise adherence. Also, satisfaction with a workout facility (the perception that equipment is safe and the facility is user-friendly) is also highly associated with exercise adherence. Interestingly, watching others exercise also helps motivate people to continue with their own workout plan. So yes, scrolling through fitness groups activities on social media inspires and motivates.
6. Lack of Support.
Perceived or real lack of social support from a significant other or meaningful friend is highly associated with exercise abandonment.
Explain your interest in exercising to friends and family. Ask them to support your efforts. Invite friends and family members to exercise with you.
Have a “Health Buddy”. Associate with like-minded individuals. Have a shoutout on your social media and form groups to exercise together.
Exercise produces endorphins. Endorphins makes you happy.
Stay endorphinised healthy (motivation) and happy (inspiration). That is your motivation for inspiration. And once you start it, it becomes your inspiration to motivation. Your cycle to a better quality of life.