3 Strategies Behind Motivation & Sustained Fitness

woman running

Julia Basso – PhD

Presidential Lecture:  No Sweat: The Surprising Science Behind Lasting Motivation and Sustained Physical Activity (Michelle Segar, University of Michigan)

Check out Dr. Segar’s book, “No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness”

Segar’s guiding question is, “Why don’t most people prioritize and sustain physically active lives?”  We’ve taught people to focus on distant goals such as weight loss, getting fit, disease prevention, and better health, and 75% of individuals report exercising for these reasons.

People may start an exercise program, but then they quit.  Dr. Segar calls this the “binocular problem” – they are focused on the long-term goals and because they don’t see effects immediately, they quit.  She says, “There is a gap between people’s values and behaviors – what people intend to do is very different than what they actually do.”

The real question is, what determines sustainable behavior?  Research shows that it is affect, rather than logical or reason, that motivates people in the now.  Immediate feelings outweigh the future value, and affect powerfully and predictably influences decision making.  Therefore, we must hone this research to get people to exercise in a sustained way.

Dr. Segal is trying to get people to exercise by changing the focus from the long-term goal of overall health to the immediate goal of feeling good.  

She proposes 3 strategies that we can use to get people motivated to exercise for the long term:

  1. Reframe the “why”:  Focus on the immediate feel good effects of exercise rather than losing weight and other long-term health goals

  2. Use positive affective forecasting: Tell people to expect that they will feel good – research has shown that if people expect that they will feel good, they will!

  3. Give permission: Give people permission to move in ways that feel good.  What type of exercise do you love to do?  Anything is better than nothing, and research is showing that even low-intensity exercise can be beneficial for the body and mind!

Check out her motivational work @ michellesegar.com

Related Article: How Personality Affects Workout Habits

You Might Like:


Exercise May Improve Brain Health In Adolescent Binge Drinking

Julia C. Basso, PhD Reporting from the 2017 Annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting Exercise highlight 5: Voluntary exercise restores adolescent binge ethanol-induced loss of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons in adulthood (RP Vetreno, FT Crews) The...
brother and sister walking home

Learning, Memory, & Decision Making

Julia C. Basso, PhD Reporting from the 2017 Annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting Making good decisions requires memory. Take for example, the hangover (maybe that some of us are experiencing today after the reunion with...
couple trail running

What Factors Determine Ultra-Marathon Success?

Julia C. Basso, PhD 100 miles is approximately the distance from the surface of the earth to the planet’s boundary, called suborbital space. This is also the distance run by ultra-marathon racers. To be considered...
woman trail running

Exercise & Celiac Disease

Julia C. Basso, PhD Eating gluten free seems to be in fashion at the moment. You can find gluten free foods at almost every super market these days. However, for some gluten free is not...
Women training together

How Overtraining and Undertraining Impacts Hormonal Health

Upper body strength

Upper Body Strength in Post-Menopausal Women

Female hurdler

Does Testosterone Boost Athletic Performance in Female Athletes? 

Women playing soccer

Exercise Research is Underrepresented in Female Athletes

female soccer player

Protocol for Breast Injuries in Female Athletes

Young female slalom skier during the race

Are ACL tears more common during a women’s menstrual cycle?

Women wearing yellow stretching in a field

How Does the Menstrual Cycle Impact Physical Performance?


Three Types of Exercise for Reducing Anxiety

older couple standing on a wood bridge

A Trick To The Foundation Of Youth?

woman running stairs

5 Ways HIIT Improves Fitness in Women

Leave a Reply