I’m sure as a former Royal Marines Officer you expected to read something about having a plan at some point. You weren’t wrong. This post is about making a plan to exercise to see the results you want. It’s not enough just to want to exercise, funnily enough a large percentage of adults want to exercise. They have the desire to do so, the motivation to exercise. However, life tends to get in the way, along with family, work and tiredness. The net results, despite all the motivation and will, exercise takes a back seat along with the dreams of a sixpack or bikini body, and more importantly the health benefits that go along with it. A plan to exercise can be the simple change to see the results needed.
A goal without a plan is just wish
You’ve undoubtedly heard it before. I’m sure 75% of lectures or talks in the fitness industry I have listened to have included this quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It may be cliché, but it’s also true. If you just want a change of job, but do nothing to make it happen, it’s simple a wish. You must plan a change of job. You must work on your CV, send it out, attend interviews, maybe even network or re-educate yourself. There must be a plan there, or it is just a wish.
When it comes to health and fitness, this is the same. Your goal may be to lost 10kg of bodyfat or add 5kg of muscle or be able to run 10kg in under 40mins. Great, but so what? How are you going to do that? One of my businesses is writing programmes/plans for people to give them a plan to work to. They also create a buy in as they spend on this plan and thus have an extra motivation to do it; it cost them! Wherever you get your plan from, without it you are working blindly. Plan your exercise to see results!
Deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your chances for success.
Heidi Grant Halvorson, Columbia University professor
Plan to Make Exercise a Habit
A study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology shows us to utilise planning in advance to ensure your exercise is performed and thus your goal isn’t simply a wish. 248 people were split into three groups:
- Group 1. The control group were asked to keep track of how frequently they exercised over two weeks. Before they were allowed to leave the induction everyone in group 1 had to read the opening three paragraphs of a non fitness/planning related fictional book.
- Group 2. The motivation group were asked to keep track of how frequently they exercised over the next two weeks. Each person had it explained to them that exercise reduces coronary heart disease, they also had to read a pamphlet on how exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Group 3. The intention group were essentially the same as group 2. They read the pamphlet on exercise helping heart disease and had it explained to them. However, they also had to formulate a plan for how, when and where they would exercise over the following weeks.
They utilised the following statement:
During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].
Plan the exercise to see results
Two weeks later the results were collated. Even the researchers were surprised by the final percentages:
- Group 1. 38% of participants exercised at least once per week after reading part of a novel!
- Group 2. 35% of participants exercised at least once per week even after reading and listening to the fact that exercise helps reduce heart disease.
- Group 3. 91% of participants exercised at least once per week. The only difference to group 2 being a written statement plan as to when exercise would happen.
By writing down when and where they intended to exercise, Group 3 members were far more likely to exercise and thus see results.
Make a plan
It’s that easy to see results, just make a plan and you are over 50% more likely to succeed that if you don’t. If you have the motivation and want to be fitter, stronger, leaner, healthier or whatever it is, do something about it NOW!
Write down three times this week that you will train, where you will do it and what you will do. Put it into your written or smart phone diary and stick to it. No excuses. If you are struggling for what to do have a look at my programmes page there is something for everyone there.