Motivation can be divided into intrinsic and extrinsic:

Intrinsic motivations produce of a sense within oneself of interest/enjoyment of the activity.

Extrinsic motivations are defined by attaining a reward or achieving a goal related to the activity.

Intrinsic motivation is noted to produce more consistent and long-term participation in physical activity and exercise, that is not to say extrinsic motivators do not have a place. Extrinsic motivators may assist in initial compliance with regular exercise, or encourage a new level of intensity, however, it is important there is underlying intrinsic motivators that support ongoing exercise.

Alternative division of motivation for exercise:

Social Experience: participating with others to fulfil social needs, this could be team sport, walking with a friend, or group fitness.

Health and Fitness: maintenance or improvement of health and fitness, for example, to increase energy levels, prevent injury, or maintenance of chronic illness.

Pursuit of Vertigo: Activities that involve speed, risk, and thrill, participators would likely enjoy the feeling of the natural bodily response to fight/flight. They may enjoy activities including rock climbing, or mountain biking.

Ascetic Experience: Pursuit of strenuous, painful, endurance forms of exercise, commonly those participating in exercise such as CrossFit, long-distance running.

Aesthetic Experience: exercise provides opportunity to experience beauty, symmetry, and is most aligned with dance, gymnastics, but also exercising in environments of beauty e.g. hiking.

Catharsis: Physical activity utilised to reduce stress or relieve tension, examples of this would be person-specific, more likely non-competitive exercise.

When exercising there is often multiple motivators contributing to participation. For example, going for a jog along the coast may be motivated by health and fitness, Catharsis and Aesthetic experience which are a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.  Multiple experiences produces more benefit holistically and increases motivation to repeat similar experience. There is also the negative experience to consider, trying to push yourself to complete an ascetic experience when you are not feeling high energy may produce reduced motivation to complete that type of exercise in future. If you are wanting to optimise your physical activity and get the most out of it physically, mentally and create more consistent behaviours, understanding the above described motivators and how they relate to yourself may be of great benefit. If you are having any difficulty with consistency of exercise, or feel like it is a chore, feel free to discuss this your physiotherapist at Mount Lawley Physiotherapy and Podiatry as we are committed to improving our client’s physical activity habits.