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Author: Isabel Fenwick

Research says your commitment to exercise is all about satisfaction. You can prevent exercise from being the one that got away by knowing what does (and doesn’t) do it for you.

The level of satisfaction you feel when you do something is what’s going to keep you doing it. Exercise is no different.

With 50 per cent of people who start a new exercise regime dropping out in the first six months, it’s imperative you know the pitfalls before you start.

A recent study at Penn State University1 explored themes that impact your satisfaction with exercise. Intensity, social connection and perceived competence came up as the most significant.

1.) Intensity

Starting hot and heavy is the first mistake. If you’re a beginner and you start with high intensity you could do some serious long-term damage to your relationship with exercise. Working out above your ability will result in some very real discomfort. When this happens you associate exercise with stress, anxiety or pain instead of all the great things it does for you.

While you may give your short-term self the workout of your life, you might also do permanent damage to the way you view and enjoy exercise. This is not an excuse to cruise, just don’t jump off the cliff. Know what you are capable of, and increase your level of intensity over time.

For more information on how to personally manage your exercise intensity click here to learn about SMART START.

2.) Connection

Connection means something different to everyone. For some, it’s just looking around the gym and recognizing that everyone is in the same sweaty boat. For others, it’s a more personal connection. If the latter is you, introduce yourself to a group fitness instructor. They like a more personal connection when it comes to exercise, too. It’s why they do what they do! Another option is to take a friend along to help you build a positive association with exercise.

3.) Competence

A fear of underperforming is not uncommon. This lack of confidence, if brought to the gym, can be detrimental to your motivation and how you feel about exercise. If low confidence is one of the reasons you haven’t already fallen for exercise, try a group fitness class where an instructor will give you clear direction. Having someone to cue you helps you to know what you’re doing.

Another tip for competence is acknowledging the level at which you can perform certain exercises. If your instructor tells you to do push-ups and you can only do them on your knees, then do them on your knees. You will build strength, and get on your toes eventually, trying to do them on your toes too soon could result in you not trying at all.

Start your fitness journey the smart way – have some self-awareness, know what satisfies you and ensure exercise doesn’t end up the one that got away.



1) Maher. P. J, Gottschall. S. J. and Conroy. E. J., (2015, August, 19) Perceptions of the activity, the social climate, and the self during group exercise classes regulate intrinsic satisfaction. Frontiers of Psychology.

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