Kaia Top 7 Tips to Stay on the Move

At Kaia, we know a thing or two about jump-starting motivation. Read on and we’ll show you how with our top 7 tips for getting—and staying—motivated to exercise daily.

Dreaming of having more energy for your life? Looking to better manage pain? Wanting your body to feel better all around? When it comes to reclaiming your pep, health, and well-being, getting regular exercise can be a game changer. Sometimes, though, it can be a challenge to find the motivation to move your body. This can be especially true when pain flares up.

At Kaia, we know a thing or two about jump-starting motivation. Read on and we’ll show you how with our top 7 tips for getting—and staying—motivated to exercise daily. In order to work your motivation mojo, though, it’s important to understand what motivation really is and how it works. So let’s take a closer look at that first.

What is motivation (really)?

Put simply, motivation is the incentive or drive to get things done. Did you know that there are actually 2 kinds of motivation? It’s true! Each kind is defined by where the sense of reward for doing something comes from: either inside or outside ourselves.

Intrinsic motivation[1-4]

With intrinsic motivation, the rewards come from the inside (hence its name). If you’re spurred on by intrinsic motivation, you’re motivated because the tasks on your to-do list are interesting, challenging, or simply fun. Want to learn cello because you’re looking to feel happier and more creative? Then you’re being fired up by intrinsic motivation.

In his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, author Daniel Pink explains that, more often than not, intrinsic motivation is what fuels people to make changes and get things done. According to Pink, intrinsic motivation can be broken down into 3 core needs:

  • Autonomy—The need to direct your own life and make your own choices
  • Mastery—The need to learn, create, be challenged, and improve
  • Purpose—The need to have a positive impact on not only your own life, but the lives of others, too

Believe in yourself and your ability to make—and sustain—positive changes in your life.

Extrinsic motivation[2-4]

With the second kind of motivation, extrinsic motivation, the rewards come from the outside. If you’re driven by extrinsic motivation, you’re motivated by external rewards, such as prizes, promotions, special recognition, or other perks. For example, you may have an incentive to take on a side project at work because you’re banking on a bonus at the end of the year.

With extrinsic motivation, you may also be motivated by trying to avoid negative consequences. For example, you may want to exercise daily to decrease pain.

Extrinsic motivation tends to work best for reaching short-term goals. But, in general, when you’re looking at achieving long-term goals (like sticking to doing your Kaia exercises regularly), intrinsic motivation will tend to light your fire more than extrinsic motivation. Luckily, though, you can use both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to your advantage. This is especially true when it comes to sticking to your Kaia training program in order to better manage pain.

How to get and stay on the move

OK, now that you got the lowdown on motivation, let’s talk about how to get motivated to make movement a regular part of your life. We’ve compiled a list of our top 7 tips for boosting your (intrinsic and extrinsic) motivation to become more physically active. Let’s dive in!

Tip #1: Believe in yourself!

It sounds simple, but it’s true: The more you believe that you have the power to create positive changes in your life, the easier it can be for you to actually make those changes. This is explained by a psychological concept called the locus of control.[5] It means the degree to which you feel like you have agency over the outcome of events in your life.

When you have what’s called an internal locus of control, it feels like your life is powered by your own inner “battery.” You feel like your actions help to determine what plays out in your life. (An external locus of control is feeling like only fate, destiny, other people, and/or external forces determine what happens to you.) Research has demonstrated that when people make positive changes coming from an internal locus of control, they are more likely to have an easier time making changes in the future.

So believe in yourself and your ability to make—and sustain—positive changes in your life. The present and future you will be grateful![3,6,7]

Tip #2: Plan ahead 

It will be easier for you to exercise regularly if you decide on a definite time and place to exercise. The more concrete your plans, the better. For example: Plan to do your Kaia exercises every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after work at 5:30 p.m. in your living room on your exercise mat. When you plan ahead, it makes it much easier to create a healthy habit of exercising.

Tip #3: Reduce possible obstacles

Even if you’ve already made concrete plans, you might still feel a bit unmotivated or ambivalent in the beginning days before your exercise routine has had a chance to really set in. This is pretty normal.

The solution? Try to make it as easy as possible for yourself to exercise, especially as you’re just getting started with creating a routine. Research has indicated that the fewer decisions you have to make, the more you can access your willpower and make wiser choices. Willpower and good judgment can actually get depleted over the course of the day if you’ve had to make a lot of decisions, resulting in a state known as “decision fatigue.”[8]

So see what decisions and other obstacles to exercising that you can reduce. For example, lay out your training mat and exercise clothes the night before. This will set you up for success, reducing the chances of giving in to those early-stage meh feelings about exercise. (Kaia pro tip: It’s important to keep going and outsmart those meh feelings. They usually start to dwindle after you create a solid habit.)

Keep moving forward, even if it means taking baby steps toward your goal.

Tip #4: Set realistic goals

There is a certain wisdom to the adage “Slow and steady wins the race.” While it might be tempting to compensate for a lack of exercise in the past by going all out, take it from us: Don’t overdo it. If regular exercise is new for you, pushing yourself too hard and unnecessarily taxing your body might actually wind up sapping your motivation.

Instead, keep adjusting your exercise goals to your body’s abilities and needs. As you become more fit, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity of your exercise sessions. That’s why we designed the Kaia exercises to gradually ramp up in difficulty based on your regular feedback. The most important thing is to find a regular rhythm for your routine that works for your body and your life.

Tip #5: Treat yourself after achieving your exercise goals

Did you meet your exercise goals for the day? The week? Or maybe even the month? Great!  Find a way to treat yourself. A small reward (such as reading a good book or watching a funny movie) can be a great way to stoke your motivation. Keeping loved ones posted about your success can also help you stay on track. Who knows—you might even inspire them to exercise more regularly!

Tip #6: Think about the positive effects of exercise

Another way to stay motivated is to remind yourself of all the great mind-body benefits of regular movement. For instance, exercise can be a boon for managing pain, having more energy, feeling calmer, sleeping better at night, etc. Feel free to add to your mind-body benefit list whenever you want to boost your motivation mojo.

Tip #7: Show yourself compassion

When it comes to motivation, it’s important to strike a healthy balance. While you’ll want to hold yourself accountable to your goals, it’s also important to not put excess pressure on yourself. To that end, if you’ve missed one of your earmarked exercise days, don’t be too hard on yourself. It takes time to create a new habit (maybe even more than previously thought). So dial into some self-compassion (or kindness toward yourself), pick up where you left off, and keep going. Doing some exercise is better than doing none at all. Keep moving forward, even if it means taking baby steps toward your goal.

Conclusion

Getting regular exercise is important for a healthy mind and body, as well as pain management. Set yourself up for success with your exercise routine by tuning into what helps (and hinders) your motivation. Define the inner and outer rewards that light your fire. And, most important, believe in yourself and your ability to create positive changes in your life.

References

  1. Pink DH. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. New York: Riverhead Books; 2011.
  2. Hogg MA, Vaughan GM. Social Psychology. Sixth edition. Essex, UK: Pearson Education; 2011.
  3. Vallerand RJ. Toward a hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In Zanna MP, ed. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. New York: Academic Press; 1997:271-360.
  4. Vallerand RJ. A hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for sport and physical activity. In Hagger MS, Chatzisarantis NLD, eds. Self-Determination Theory in Exercise and Sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2007:255-279.
  5. Psychology Today. Locus of control. Psychology Today website. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/locus-control. Accessed November 25, 2020.
  6. Bandura A. Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Adv Behav Res Ther. 1978;1(4):211-215.
  7. Bandura A. Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. Am Psychol. 1982;37(2):122-147.
  8. Tierney J. Do you suffer from decision fatigue? New York Times. August 17, 2011. https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html. Accessed November 25, 2020.

Further Reading