Categorized | Workouts & Routines

Use The Psychology Of Operant Conditioning To Improve Your Fitness

How can you trick your mind into thinking it actually WANTS to exercise?

We all struggle with motivation sometimes!

Some people pay thousands of dollars for the motivation of a personal trainer. We’re afraid that if we don’t have someone to keep us accountable to our fitness – we’ll let it slide.

What if we could turn our minds into our very own personal trainer instead? For free.

By deepening your understanding of a few simple psychological phenomena, you will be able to turn your mind from something that talks you OUT of going for a run…into your biggest motivator.

Your body craves a run, but your mind says no. How can you trick your mind into thinking it wants to exercise too?

Well the first thing you need to do is make a plan. Before you can even start to use psychological conditioning, you need to create a tangible workout schedule. Start with small, attainable goals – such as going for a run every other evening for a week.

Write your plan out as a list, or write it on a calendar.

Next it’s time to apply a psychological phenomenon called operant conditioning.

Operant conditioning is a term given to the psychological effect of positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is when we complete an action and as a direct result are given a reward. When we are given a reward, certain parts of our brains are stimulated in a way which encourages repetition of the action.

Just having a plan can really help with motivation.

How can having a check list activate operant conditioning?

Operant conditioning requires an action and a response. In this case, exercise is the action. You need to create a response for yourself in order to connect the desirable stimulus with the positive action.

Let’s start simple. Get in the habit of checking every exercise you do off of your list after you complete it. Just this simple “reward” will draw attention to your success. Repetition of this action-positive reinforcement patter will trigger pleasure in the brain. Eventually you will subconsciously look forward to checking each little achievement off your list. Suddenly going for a run is much more of an accomplishment than it was before.

Maybe list keepers aren’t as severe and strict as everyone makes them out to be.

They just know how to enjoy themselves. One little check at a time.

How else can you incorporate the action-reward mentality of operant conditioning into your workout schedule? Make running part of a more elaborate routine. For example, if you run every Tuesday at 7, reward yourself at 8 by watching your favourite TV show. The mind loves habits, routines, and patterns. Eventually, it will feel WRONG if you don’t go for your usual run.

If you want to get even MORE serious about operant conditioning, you could introduce punishments into your routine. For example – set a jar beside your check list. Each time you successfully go for a run, add a dollar to the jar. But each time you skip out on an exercise on your list, take a dollar out. At the end of the month do something fun for yourself – budgeted by however much money you collected in the jar.

Realize that lack of motivation to exercise is something that everyone experiences.

You’re not alone.

And you can beat this laziness!

Now get out there and go for a run!

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