We know. Exercise is extremely important to living a healthy life. You do a lot of things to try to motivate yourself to get out there and move it-move it, like download apps, buy cute workout gear, even make plans with a friend (or your kids). But surprise, surprise, sometimes you still have more excuses not to work out. Now science shows that those of us who are most successful at making it to the gym all seem to share one instinct.
A recent study that was published in the Health Psychology journal discovered that those who are most likely to exercise are ones who respond to a cue without thinking too much about it. Think about it like this — your work day ends and that triggers the instinct to head to the gym, or if you’re feeling down and out, you automatically want to work out to help improve how you feel. The study calls that habit an “instigative habit.”
L. Alison Philips, PhD, one of the study’s authors and assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University described the habit to Time: “It’s not something you have to deliberate about; you don’t have to consider the pros and cons of going to the gym after work.” Hmm, so, it’s kinda like Nike says; you Just Do It. (They were always on to something.)
The experiment, which studied 123 college students and faculty for a month, compared one’s instigation habit to one’s execution habit, which is the instinct of knowing exactly what to do once you start working out, and found that the strength of a person’s instigation habit was the only real factor in determining whether a person would stick to their workout habits for the long run.
And do not get down if the habit doesn’t come naturally to you. Philips also told Time that she saw an improvement in people’s instigation habit throughout the study after those participants started exercising more and became more active. That means even if you weren’t born with a strong instigation habit, it looks like it’s possible to develop one. So, go forth and be healthy, everyone.
What sorts of tips or tricks do you have to use to get yourself to the gym? Share it with us in the comments below!
(h/t Time, photos via Jonathan Ferrey/Getty + Alli Harvey/Getty + Joosep Martinson/Getty)