In last week's post, I told you all about the intention-behaviour gap. If you missed it, you can read it here.
I left you with the task (if you so choose to accept it) to watch for all the causes of your physical activity intention-behaviour gap and write them out for yourself.
How did that go?
Now, you know. So what can you do about it?
Maybe you aren't so sure.
But let me tell you what the recent research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says. It sheds light on the psychological factors contributing to the intention-behaviour gap in physical activity.
The study suggests that a significant factor behind this gap is the concept of "implementation intentions". These are specific plans that link situational cues to actions, enabling individuals to convert their intentions into behaviour more effectively.
The study found that participants who formulated clear implementation intentions were more successful in adhering to their exercise plans.
🎉 WooWho! 🎉
For example, rather than a vague intention to "exercise more," participants who set specific implementation intentions such as "I will go for a 30-minute walk every morning before breakfast" were more likely to follow through with their actions.
Being specific is key!
Here are eight tips to take your turning your intentions into physical activity:
1.Set Implementation Intentions: 🗓 Building on the new research, include specific implementation intentions in your physical activity plans. For instance, set a schedule that links exercise to particular times or events during your day, making it easier to integrate exercise into your routine.
2. Start small and build momentum: 🤏🏼 Begin with achievable goals and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Celebrate small successes to boost motivation. Not sure what to do? This video will unpack the formula for success.
3. Create a routine: 📆 Establish a consistent exercise schedule that aligns with your daily life. Treating physical activity as a non-negotiable appointment can help form a lasting habit.
4. Find activities you enjoy: 😄 If you dislike a particular form of exercise, it will be challenging to stick with it. Explore different activities until you discover something that sparks joy and keeps you engaged.
5. Accountability and support: 👯♀️ Partner up with a friend or join a fitness class. Working with a professional like me can help support you in a tailored plan that is both gradual and achievable. Having someone to share your exercise journey with can provide encouragement and accountability.
6. Be kind to yourself: 💗 Accept that occasional setbacks are normal and part of the process. Avoid self-criticism and instead focus on progress and self-improvement.
7. Break it down: ⬇️ If time is an issue, break your exercise sessions into shorter bouts throughout the day. Even ten minutes of activity can contribute to your overall fitness. Learn more about time blocking in this video.
8. Visualize success: 👏🏼 Imagine yourself being active, feeling energized, and reaping the benefits of regular exercise. Visualization can help reinforce your commitment and determination.
The intention-behaviour gap in physical activity is a common obstacle that most people face on their wellness journey.
I’m not immune to it either!
However, the new research from the British Journal of Sports Medicine offers valuable insights into overcoming this gap by incorporating specific implementation intentions.
Let’s embrace the power of consistency, perseverance, and self-compassion on our path to a more active and fulfilling life.
Stay well and happy moving,
The fact that you are here in my community speaks to the fact that you are well aware that physical activity is undoubtedly one of the most critical components of a healthy lifestyle.
However, despite this knowledge, you may very well struggle to translate your intentions to be physically active into consistent behaviour.
Any show of hands here?
This phenomenon is known as the "intention-behaviour gap."
The intention-behaviour gap refers to the discrepancy between what we plan or intend to do and what we actually end up doing.
You may be thinking to yourself, "been there, done that…"
So, for instance, you may genuinely desire to exercise regularly but find yourself repeatedly skipping workouts or struggling to adhere to a physical activity routine. This gap between intent and action can be a frustrating and demotivating experience, causing you to feel like you lack willpower or discipline.
None of us are immune to this gap.
You may recognize the main causes of the intention-behaviour gap as:
Unrealistic expectations: Setting overly ambitious exercise goals can be counterproductive. While aiming high is commendable, starting with manageable objectives increases the likelihood of success and avoids feelings of failure or inadequacy. Not sure what is realistic? Working with a professional like me can help support you in a customized plan that is both manageable and realistic.
Lack of habit formation: Habits are powerful drivers of behaviour. When physical activity becomes an ingrained habit, the need for willpower diminishes, making it easier to stay consistent.
Time constraints: Modern life is often busy and hectic, leaving little room for physical activity. Failing to find time for exercise can lead to the intention-behaviour gap. Watch this video all about time blocking your schedule!
External factors: Weather conditions (sun, smoke, rain, snow, we have all the seasons!), work commitments, or family responsibilities can interfere with planned exercise routines, causing you to abandon your intentions.
Psychological barriers: Negative beliefs or past experiences with physical activity can create mental blocks, making it challenging to turn intention into action. Did you read last week's post? This was a perfect example of this!
And I am sure there are likely more!
So you may be thinking, "what can I do about it?"
First and foremost, start to become aware of it!
It is easy to let physical activity plans slip to the way side. Begin to notice when you've set unrealistic expectations or when life gets so crazy busy that you barely feel like you are keeping up. Notice the stories you tell yourself about the weather and how it gets in your way of moving your body. And likely most importantly, watch how your past, present and future thinking stops your intention for action.
Once you become aware of it, then begin to take note.
I mean literally write it down in a journal or notebook or even on a bright sticky note. How many of these barriers are getting in your way?
Stay tuned for next week's post where I will delve more into the concept of the intention-behaviour gap, offering practical strategies to bridge the divide and all supported by new research from the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
I love a good research study.
Now go forward into your week watching for all those things (even ones not on the list above) that are making your intention to behaviour gap larger than you'd like! And if you care to share, reply to this email and tell me, what is your #1 cause?
Stay well and happy moving,
👋🏼 Psst...before I go...I'm working on some pretty amazing offerings for this Fall! Keep your eyes on the posts over the next month to see what I have in store!
How has July been treating you? ☀️
I've been thinking of you as I play in the sun and stay active with the kids during summer vacation.
Do you ever have moments when you don't trust your body?
You wonder if you can physically do what your brain is asking your body to do?
I had this EXACT moment recently when embarking in an activity I hadn't done for a long time!
My left shoulder has been a bit cranky lately and I questioned if it could help climb a 28 foot high climbing wall!!!
I started to feel sensations of anxiety and fear begin to arrive in my body.
Pupils wide. 👀
Butterflies in stomach. 🦋
Breathing rate up! ⬆️
I was harnessed in.
No where else to go but up.
I was wall climbing after multiple years away from the floor to celling high wall!
Within 10 seconds of recognizing my questioning, I took off on the wall. I posted the video over on my Instagram and Facebook this week if you want to see more!
This all got me thinking about how our brain interprets our physical activity adventures.
I came up with THREE filters we use.
Past Lisa said, "You got this. You've done this before with success. But wait, remember when you skinned your knee on the way down? Oh, and when you overdid it with you hip in the past, what if you overdo it with your shoulder today?"
Present Lisa said, "Can I trust this body to take this brain up 28 feet? Seeing the rope system, is it working correctly? Hearing the snap of the rope and the jingle of the carabiner (a metal loop with a spring-loaded gate), is it intact? Feeling the harness around my thighs, is it safe?"
Future Lisa said, "You can't afford to bugger up your shoulder. What if you fall? You are the primary care giver of those kids over there. You've got to get them home."
It is SO amazing how our bodies want to keep us safe. I was safe. I enjoyed an hour of climbing adventures with my kids AND felt great doing it!
This reminded me of the quote from Henry Ford,
Listen - being present in the moment will help you trust your body. And actually listening to your thoughts too.
Start to notice. Thoughts of the past, present and future as they arrive.
What summer adventures have you been up to? Have you been listening to the undertones your brain and body are telling you?
And share with me what shows up by simply hitting reply!
Stay well and happy moving,
P.S., Check out this post from last year that highlights 4 key questions to ask yourself when bumping up to obstacles with your physical activity.
Missed my most recent newsletter? Don't worry, I've got your back. Find all my exclusive letters here on this blog. ~Lisa