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Postcards from Scotland

Exercising judgement: the psychology of fitness

One in five adults in Scotland is now clinically obese, and the figure is expected to rise. A recent article in psychological science looks at the growing body of research into why people exercise, and why they don?t. This article brings together some research which highlights some things which can help people to get active. Preferring to be sedentary is not an innate human trait. We have a basic need for physical activity and this is being undermined. This article has research from the leading experts and it provides some useful tips for sustainable exercise.

This article gives tips for getting more active and sustaining it. Some of these are:

1. self-efficacy: believe that you can do it e.g. a growth mindset can help to increae self-efficacy ( to find out more generally about self-efficacy click here)

2. set implementation goals: set specific goals which you will do, such as ?I will walk to work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday? instead of a general intention to exercise.

3. exercise the 'no' muscle: self control is like a muscle which can be exercised.  The more we practice the better we get, and this can transfer to other areas of our life too.

4. what are your goals: do you want to feel energized? then exercise with others.  Do you want to feel calmer? exercise indoors on your own.

5. take responsibility for your exercise: if you rely heavily on others it may mean that you give up when others are not around.

6. notice : you may be doing more physical activity than you believe e.g. climbing stairs, walking to work, decorating, cleaning lifting things and so on.  Believing that this is physical exercise makes a difference and can be important.  (to read an article on this research click here and the research paper click here)

The research is showing that people who suffer from major depression benefit from exercise, and that exercise is providing longer lasting effects compared to medication alone.  It boosts positive emotion too.  However,  some people do require medication and so exercise is not the only answer for depression, but another option for clinicians. 

 To read this article click here

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