Reinforcement for Creating Exercise Habits
Getting compliments, and getting paid for your work, are two strong motivators to keep repeating the same behavior. But most people aren’t paid to exercise, and you can’t always count on others to motivate you. Exercise reinforces itself by releasing feel-good hormones and improving your appearance. If you need more reinforcement, positive thinking and visualization can get you started and keep you going until exercise becomes a habit — which takes about three months.
Your body needs exercise to be healthy, so nature reinforces your exercise habit by releasing endorphins and other “feel-good” hormones during both cardio and weight-lifting exercise. The level of these hormones in your system will be higher at all times if you have an exercise habit, according to an article for The University of Edinburgh Faculty of Medicine. Experiencing how good regular exercise makes you feel can be all the motivation you need to keep exercising again until it becomes a fixed habit.
Research shows that positive thinkers — optimists – are happier, have better physical health and are more likely to exercise than pessimists, explained in an article for “The Atlantic.” If you catch yourself having negative thoughts about exercise, realize that these thoughts can be negative reinforcement against creating your exercise habit. Intentionally think positive thoughts to counteract these thoughts. For example, “I will keep going back to the gym for as long as it takes for exercise to become my habit.”