live it active

Part 3: Finding your motivation

Perhaps this should have been the first post of this series. Because before you can help anyone else find their motivation, it is important to know yours.

Your motivations for being physically active are largely predictive of your long-term success. Kilpatrick et al. looked at the differences in motivation amongst college students for participation in sport (rule based games) vs. exercise (independent physical activity). 

Kilpatrick administered a physical activity questionnaire as well as an exercise motivation inventory to 223 students aged 18 to 47 years old (average age was 22). The motivation inventory asked questions about reasons for being active – was it because of more time spent with friends, the challenge, social recognition, or revitalization (to name a few)?

So what did they find? Not surprisingly the motivations to engage in sport differed from those to exercise. Both male and female students were more likely to engage in sport for affiliation, enjoyment, competition and challenge whereas motivations to exercise included weight management, positive health, and health pressure, especially in women (i.e. women are more likely to exercise to manage weight). 

Humans have an inherent need for autonomy, competence and social-relatedness. These are all intrinsic needs and we are largely motivated by them. Engagement in sport fulfills these needs. Fulfilling these core requirements (driven largely by our biology) will likely lead to improved long-term adherence. Being extrinsically motivated to be active (i.e. to lose weight, etc.) while still beneficial, will less likely lead to long-term change.

But not everybody digs sports. So what if your motivation is to lose weight or be more healthy? Those are pretty valid reasons to get active. However if you don’t derive pleasure/enjoyment from how you’re becoming healthier I bet you won’t keep doing it.

I encourage you to dig deeper. Try to find a motivation that is more meaningful – a motivation that will get you out of bed (check out how random man gets out of bed:)) in the morning everyday (or every other) to be active, for the rest of your life…

That’s not easy. I get that. I’m asking a lot. So spend some time thinking over the next little while about what will motivate you day in, day out. I am not going to hint at anything in this post, but perhaps tomorrow I’ll share a few ideas. And perhaps I’ll even share a few of my own. 

Happy searching.



Kilpatrick et al., College Students’ Motivation for Physical Activity: Differentiating Men’s and Women’s Motives for Sport and Participation and Exercise. Journal of American College Health:54(2);87-94.

Photo courtesy of: Dospaz, Flickr


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