Psychology of MovementHow useful are your exercise rules?
We often inadvertently create ‘rules’ in our minds about what exercise has to be in order to be worthwhile. Some common rules are: “I have to do X amount of time”, “it has to feel really hard”, “I have to do a certain amount of exercise per week” or “I have to feel energetic to exercise”.
Rules can be useful - they are like guiding principles that help simplify things for us. But the problem is they don’t always apply to every scenario. For example, having the rule: “I have to do an hour” is one way of remaining consistent. But what about when your schedule doesn’t allow it? The problem then is that it can be too easy to abandon the exercise session altogether, because the rule says that doing less than an hour of time is not worthwhile.
Without some flexibility to your rules, your idea of what ‘effective’ exercise is can become narrow, which can block you from experiencing other forms of exercise that are effective in different ways.
Are your ‘rules’ working for you?
It’s worth becoming aware of how well your rules are working for you. Do they allow you enough flexibility to be consistent with exercise despite the things that get in the way? Or are they encouraging a bit of an ‘all-or-nothing’ thinking pattern that then means you ultimately end up doing less exercise?
A sign that you may need to reconsider your ‘rules’ is if you constantly find yourself facing a variety of barriers. Is it always the barrier that prevents you from exercising? Or is it a rule that you have about what you ‘should’ do when you exercise?
If you notice some unhelpful rules that lead to all-or-nothing behaviour, then try shifting these to be ‘ideals’. “I have to do an hour of exercise today” becomes “ideally I would like to fit an hour of exercise in today”. By swapping your ‘rules’ for ‘ideals’ you may find you end up being more consistent with exercise.