I was thinking this morning about how competitiveness may aid exercise adherence. The desire to better your previous performance in an activity, whether that activity is of a sporting nature or is a mental task, can be strong enough to encourage you to try harder, put more into it, or even to just do it rather than not. You don’t have to get involved in races to be competitive; I’m talking about being ambitious with your own achievements, aiming for something faster, more coordinated, or more effortless than last time you did it.
It ties in with having goals, and short term targets related to those goals. Each time you decide to take some exercise, if you decide beforehand what you’d like to aim for it can help you to stay motivated. See if you can knock one minute off your walk around the block, or push one more repetition out with your weights. Set yourself a realistic target before moving and keep it in your head as you go, inspiring you to sustain your efforts. Log down how it went and set a new target the next time you need something to spur you to action.
Be competitive with yourself; make it matter how well you can move, and see what an impact it can have. I tried this today on my cycle ride. I had a choice near the end of my ride – go up the really steep climb I haven’t done since last year, or take the less evil slope. I forced myself up the steep slope because I wanted to prove to myself I could still do it. Well, I made it, and felt very good about it, and now I’m feeling tired in a happy way and ready to try again next week and do it better!