June 18, 2014

What motivates you to exercise? Is it the idea of looking your best, feeling your best, or just because you know you should?

Whatever your reason, most people would agree that it’s harder to get moving in the winter than during the warmer months. And, depending on where you live, that could mean months of inactivity, excuses, low motivation, and decreased fitness. All of this, of course, makes it harder to get started again.

A quick look at social media proves the growing popularity of ‘selfies’, those photos we take of ourselves on our mobile phones. Love them or hate them, the selfie usually contains a really positive message. It might be of the person eating a healthy meal, or of just returning from a run, or perhaps enjoying the company of friends. Unless your social contacts are proud of bad behaviour, it’s rare to see a selfie of someone doing the wrong thing. After all, who’d want to post a selfie of looking your worst?

A survey conducted by life insurer AIA Australia, revealed that more than three quarters of women confess that the quest for the perfect selfie is a big motivator for working out and eating well.

So if this is correct, perhaps the selfie is simply a motivation tool to encourage the individual to continue to make these sorts of choices. The feedback from others – compliments, pats on the back and the like – help to keep motivation high. It’s harder to stop doing something that you’ve proudly discussed publicly.

Interestingly, the selfie also seems to work to motivate others. Consider the idea that your circle of influence includes not only your direct friends but also friends of friends. The selfie shows all these other people that at least somebody is doing the right thing, and maybe the influence will be along the lines of “Well if she can, I can too.”

Now it’s not necessarily the selfie alone that has the biggest impact. Along with the image is the sharing of goals and achievements, and as two thirds of women have trouble finding the willpower to exercise, maybe the use of selfies on social media is the trick to keeping on track.

Exercise can be harder in winter for all sorts of reasons: it’s cold and wet, the days are shorter so outdoor exercise seems limited to daylight hours, and long sleeves and pants cover up any physical evidence that you’ve changed your summer habits. But as sure as any of these excuses might be valid, summer will roll around again and the roller coaster of ‘good’ habits and ‘bad’ habits continues.

Find your motivation. It might be via selfies on social media, by getting an exercise buddy, exercising at lunchtimes, or making an ‘appointment’ with yourself to go to Healthy Inspirations. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it works. However you get motivated, make it happen.