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Quitter’s Day 2021: Don't give up! How to stick to exercising...

January 15th 2021

The likelihood of most people giving up on their New Year’s resolutions is said to be so high, it’s been given its own dedicated day – this year, Sunday 17 January is known as ‘Quitter’s Day’! However, we know that all new year’s resolutions are started with the best intentions, and if you’ve stumbled across this blog, you’re probably open to ideas on how to make sure you keep exercising through 2021 (and particularly through lockdown).

So, if you’re keen to make sure you don’t fall off the wagon, below we explain how a popular theory of motivation works, how it applies to exercise, and suggest what motivational strategies could work for you to keep you motivated and on track.

There’s more to motivation than meets the eye…

There’s a theory called ‘Self Determination Theory’ [1] which is a great explanation of some of our different types of motivation. There are three broad categories:

‘Amotivation’ – feeling like you have no desire to do something.

‘Extrinsic motivation’ – behaving in a certain way because of an external factor, which will gain you an external reward, such as taking part in exercise classes because of the sense of accountability and praise you might receive.

‘Intrinsic motivation’ – behaving in a certain way because of an internal factor, such as personal enjoyment and satisfaction.

When it comes to keeping exercising and not giving up, different types of motivation can play their part at different points. If you started riding your bike more because you think it’s a good idea, but a new year’s resolution was what actually got you on your bike, then an ‘external’ factor (the idea of a resolution) has done a good job!

But, at this crucial point in the process, when it’s colder and wetter outside, limitations are being placed on your behaviour (such as a lockdown), and it’s a bit early to see many gains, ‘extrinsic motivation’ can be really helpful to keep you motivated. But what does that mean in reality?

How do I keep exercising this week?

It’s important to make conscious positive choices about your exercise behaviour, but it’s absolutely fine to have some help to ensure you don’t give up. External props to keep you going can come in various forms and you just need to use the ones that work for you!

If you’re a very functional person you might jump on your bike, to get some exercise, but mainly to get some essential shopping done. If you’re a very sociable person, you might meet someone for a ride, because for you, the friendship aspect is what helps you to make the exercise happen. If you’re goal oriented, mobile phone apps like Strava or a FitBit watch could give you the measurable feedback that keeps you motivated to keep at it.

Any of these extrinsic sources of motivation in isolation may not keep you on a bike in the long term, but they might keep you on a mental journey that leads to loving cycling as you gradually develop your fitness and it becomes a learned behaviour. Hopefully, you’ll then develop stronger intrinsic motivation (recognised as the most powerful type of motivation for most people) once your enjoyment increases.

Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation strategies to help you exercise:

  1. Control

Be single minded and focused about your behaviour change. You’re much more likely to be successful and change for the long term if you focus on changing one thing at a time.

  1. Value

Take the time to understand the benefits of getting healthier. The more you know about the good you’re doing yourself, the more you’ll be motivated to achieve those benefits.

  1. Challenge

Set yourself achievable goals that you’ll value the results of. For example, if you like having a goal or target to hit, use an app or a smart watch to measure how far you can cycle in a given time period, or how many calories you’ve burnt in a day. Make sure that the challenge motivates YOU!

  1. Accomplishment

Record your progress and achievements. Whether you use apps or an old-fashioned diary, seeing the progress you’ve made, in terms distance, speed, duration etc., can all help you to enjoy the achievement and keep going.

  1. Fun

Enjoy your exercise! You’re far more likely to persevere with something if you’ve had a good time doing it. Why not try out some different trails or routes in your area to spice things up, or share the experience with family or friends?

  1. Curiosity

If you have the time (and when restrictions allow), exploring fresh new places or areas can work wonders. An e-bike can be ideal for this, because with the additional pedal assistance, you can ride further and worry less about being able to make it home if you’re still building up your fitness.

  1. Structure

Make a list of new places you want to cycle to and tick them off as you complete the rides, or plan your rides in advance in your calendar. The act of planning and setting dedicated time aside to exercise creates greater accountability.

  1. Co-operation

Use your exercise time to help someone else. For example, if a neighbour is isolating in these difficult times, take your bike out and help them out by visiting the supermarket on their behalf for some essentials.

  1. Social engagement

Share your achievements, whether that’s just with your friends and family, or further afield on social media. We always love receiving pictures of the great rides our customers have been on, so share your ride using #pureelectricnow or tag us via @pureelectricnow.

Developing long-term exercise habits can be really hard at times, so find what works for you and remember to cut yourself some slack occasionally – no one can stay motivated 100 per cent of the time!

Research shows that ‘direction’ and ‘persistence’ are really important in maintaining long-term exercise behaviours; if you’ve chosen to get out on your bike or e-bike to get healthier, you’ve cracked the direction part – now it’s all about persistence.

We know you can do it!

If you’re inspired to get started with cycling, check out our full range of e-bikes now.

Reference

[1] Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York, NY: Plenum.

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