1 Simple Hack That Makes You More Likely To Work Out

unnamed-12Illustrated By Austin Watts.
For some of my friends, Pinterest boards of incredibly fit men and women are the ultimate motivation to get exercising. Personally, photos of scantily clad sweat-monsters in dimly lit gym/dungeons are kind of my nightmare, but I get how they work for some people. Now that I work (and work out) from home, I don’t have the same sources of “fitspiration” I used to — such as a gym within walking distance, and ready-and-willing gym buddies…sigh. Thankfully, a new study says the key to workout motivation is quick, free, and requires no fitspo pinboard (hallelujah!). The study, published by Taylor & Francis in the journal, Memory, suggests that thinking about a past sweat-sesh — especially in a positive way — can actually motivate us to exercise more.
Psychologists Mathew J. Biondolillo and David B. Pillemer asked undergrads to complete a two-part online survey about their college activities. It included questions about workout frequency, intensity, and attitudes toward exercise (students knew the survey regarded their activity choices as a whole, but didn’t know the experiment's exercise-specific orientation). Participants ranked statements like “I exercise because other people say I should,” and “I value the benefits of exercise,” as well as pairs of adjectives (“useful” vs. “useless,” or “relaxing” vs. “stressful”) to describe their attitudes toward working out. Finally, the students were divided into three groups: one group was asked to describe a memory of a positive experience that had inspired them to exercise; the next to describe a negative, exercise-motivating experience; and the control group was not asked to recall a memory.
Finally, the students estimated how many times per week they’d like to exercise in the future (for 15-minute periods of moderate-to-strenuous activity). Eight days following the initial survey, students were asked to report how often they had exercised that week. Those in the "positive-memory group" reported the highest levels of exercise; 61% increased their reported exercise during the eight-day period. The students who had recalled negative memories showed a 49% increase in exercise, and the control group exhibited a 37% increase. No matter what the memory, it seems, just thinking about a time we’ve worked out in the past can trigger increased motivation.
Previous research agrees: Positive thoughts about exercise play a role in how likely we are to get up and get moving. Plus, there's proven merit (here and here) to autonomous forms of workout motivation (versus being dragged along by someone else’s dedication, for instance). But, before we go thinking that kick-ass run from the summer of 2004 will fuel us through every single workout from now until forever, let's keep in mind that this study has its limits. First off, the scope is super-small — it had only 186 participants, nearly 80% of whom were women. Plus, all of the students were from a single university, and 94% of them were Caucasian.
So, does recalling a personal best jack you up for future workouts? Or, do not-so-great workout experiences motivate you to try even harder? Let us know in the comment section below.
You can read the full article online.

More from Fitness

Sometimes getting motivated to exercise can be harder than the workout itself. That’s why it helps to think of your gym time as a middle school dance: ...
The benefits of yoga are constantly touted by fitness gurus and scientific researchers alike: practicing yoga has been linked to reducing stress, boosting ...
Working out's a LOT more fun when you can do it on your own terms, in your own crib, with your own tunes, and your own friends
When it comes to rock climbing, an all-or-nothing approach is key
Ashley Graham is breaking barriers. She's the first plus-sized model to cover the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and she's served as our workout ...
In a move so fitting that we can’t believe we haven’t seen it already, ASOS teamed up with running shoe company Saucony to create glitter running ...
If you ask us, no workout is complete without a killer playlist — and running is no exception. Whether you prefer the trails or the treadmill, the right ...
(Paid Content) Normally, we celebrate getting into a fitness groove. It means that we've committed — on a pretty regular basis — to laying out workout ...
We may not all be able to keep up a daily diet of personal training, SoulCycle, and hot yoga. But there's a lot more to learn from celebrities' workout ...
Update: This story was previously published on Nov 21, 2015. Are you sitting down? Okay, take a minute to assess: Are you slouching in your seat? Are your...
Ah, the plank. Some version of it is used in virtually every type of fitness program, from CrossFit to calisthenics to yoga to pilates, and for good reason...
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that fitness trackers aren't exactly the key to a super-healthy ...
Maybe you're someone who appreciates the sturdiness of genuine leather. Perhaps you can't stand the idea of going to an hour-long vinyasa class without ...
Hailey Langland is a 16-year-old snowboarding star who believes that if you're not having fun doing something, it's not worth doing. "What sets me ...