By Erica Moe | Get Fit!
Do you believe in ghosts? One-third of Americans do, according to a Gallup poll.
It is hard to fathom that more people believe in ghosts than exercise regularly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only about 20 percent of Americans get the recommended amount of exercise — that’s 10 percent less than those who believe in the supernatural.
Ever wondered what exercise goals you could achieve if you just “believed” you could? Theodore Roosevelt said, “Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.’’
Science proves you’re even further along than halfway. Your belief in yourself (also known as self-efficacy), is the No. 1 predictor of exercise adherence (also known as sticking with it).
The mind is a powerful thing. Where the mind is, the body will follow. One study found that, for any given exercise intensity, people with higher belief in themselves had a lower perception of how hard they were working. Coincidentally, belief in yourself and exercise have a reciprocal relationship. One of the best ways to increase your confidence in yourself is by exercising!
Consider your past physical activity accomplishments — that Little League championship, making the varsity team, the 5K you finished a decade ago, the hike last summer. All of those positive experiences build your confidence for a repeat. Think about how sports teams that achieve success often continue to be successful — like the Lakers’ three-peats. The Lakers weren’t the best team each year, but they knew they could win because they had done it before.
Utilize the home-field advantage. Scientifically, in the NBA, playing at home yields 10 percent more wins. Where is your home field? If it is not the treadmill in your basement, could it be a dance studio, on a trail in the wilderness, or a group exercise class with others?
Find and follow positive role models. Maybe it’s your personal trainer, who is a consistent fitness badass, your coworker who lost 15 pounds and kept it off, your sister who reduced her blood pressure after starting yoga. Surround yourself with health superstars. If they can do it, you can, too!
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people were 57 percent more likely to gain weight when a friend gained weight, even if the friend was hundreds of miles away. When you take your first step, take a friend with you. Having an exercise partner can help both of you stick with it.
Replace “I can’t” with “I don’t.” After one study, 80 percent of the women were still using “don’t” instead of “can’t” because they found it empowering. Try “I don’t eat candy” instead of “I can’t eat candy.” See the difference?
When the “Little Engine That Could” said, “I think I can,” it was just enough to meet and conquer the challenge. What will be your motivating mantra? Try on:
- I can, and I will.
- Today, I can.
- I got this!
- Be amazing today
- Start by saying the words, then create a strength inside yourself to believe them.
- Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.
— Erica Moe, M.S. is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist who writes on behalf of the Mission Valley YMCA where she is fitness director.