I’ve spent my entire career trying to inspire people to enjoy the pleasures of body movement. That’s one of the reasons I organized the 2016 Princeton Fitness Challenge – to motivate community members to establish consistent fitness habits.
Still, it seems that there’s a committed core of couch potatoes who – no matter how I try to motivate them — simply don’t enjoy exercise as much as I think they should.
New research suggests that the problem may lie in their genes.
For many, exercise triggers the release of that wonderful, pleasurable hormone, dopamine. But others are missing the genetically-endowed chemical machinery that links dopamine release with physical activity.
Less of an exercise “high,” less motivation to move.
This genetic finding could explain why some people prefer to spend their evening with a good book instead of in yoga class.
If you’re lacking the genetic make-up, what can you do to develop healthy exercise habits?
One strategy is to link movement to an experience that you do find more pleasurable. Here are three examples, but no doubt you can creatively invent many more:
- You can turn exercise time into a social activity by playing tennis, ice skating, or working out with friends
- Listen to your favorite music while dancing in the privacy of your own home
- Enjoy the outdoors on a hike or bike ride
- Instead of sitting on the sidelines watching your daughter’s soccer game, walk around the field three times