Mental muscle achieve fitness goals?

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Sydney, Jan 22: Want to get that six pack abs, workout some mental muscle.

Repeated failure to keep up with your resolution to get in shape has nothing to do with the way you workout but the way you think, experts say. Counselling techniques, so far used in other areas like quitting smoking and sports performance are being effectively used by personal trainers. It encourages the belief that you are already living a healthy life rather than being on the way to one.

But, using scare tactics, research found, was the least effective strategy in instigating healthy behaviour changes. What worked was setting goals, using self-talk, behavioural contracts and regular monitoring.

''Exercise itself isn't rocket science. It's getting people to enjoy it and stick with it in the long term that's the real challenge,'' Pete Cohen, a health and wellbeing coach trained in human psychology and behaviour, was quoted by The Age as saying.

''Many people embark on exercise with no goals at all or just vaguely formulated ideas such as 'tone up' or 'get fitter','' Cohen said.

In many ways, exercise is seen as punitive; as soon as you start telling yourself you have to lose weight, it is all about negative emotions, he added.

Research on 'intrinsic' and 'extrinsic' styles of motivation suggests it does. Studies show that extrinsic factors, such as losing weight for wedding or holiday, are associated with short-term commitment. Intrinsic factors like the sense of accomplishment one feel from getting fitter or the enjoyment of playing a sport are associated with long-term adherence.


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