Monitoring Your Progress Part 2

Moving right along to our second blog of feedback and monitoring! In our last blog post, we talked a bit about self-regulation and two strategies to enhance our self-control and the likelihood of meeting our physical activity goals. In this blog post, as previously mentioned, we will describe the proceeding two strategies.

The reality is that even if we buy home exercise equipment and leave our running shoes at the front door, there are going to be times that we still don’t follow through with our physical activity goals. For example, maybe we’re just tired from a long day at work or woke up on the wrong side of the bed for an unknown reason and just don’t feel like exercising. This is where the other two strategies come into play.

The following strategies are known as intrapsychic strategies because they help us overcome cognitive or emotional barriers that may get in the way of our pursuit of physical activity goals1. The first one is called an attention-deployment strategy which basically means we are maintaining focus on the intended actions. For example, being conscious of our temptations (i.e., just wanting to come home from work and relax on the couch) is actually beneficial because if we notice our feelings of temptation to relax and watch Netflix, we will be less likely to mindlessly enact upon them to satisfy our immediate desire.

Of course, there are times when noticing and consciously avoiding our temptations isn’t possible and this is where we can use cognitive-change strategies to reframe our undesired temptations and increase the chances of acting on behaviours that build towards our long term goals1. For example, we can think of our couch as a comfortable place to watch Netflix or we can reframe it as an item that is next to impossible to get off of once we’re on it. Another example would be in the moment asking ourselves “why” we are doing something rather than “how” we are doing it. This puts the focus of actions more towards our long-term goals.

Well there you have it, these are two intrapsychic strategies that you can employ in the moment to help you overcome temptations and impulses that thwart your physical activity goals. Recent evidence shows that interventions targeting such attention control and cognitive changes are efficacious in increasing physical activity2. Stay tuned for our next couple of blog posts where we will be discussing the reflexive processes of habit and self-identity in regards to physical activity behaviour.

*References/Further Reading

  1. Duckworth, A. L., Gendler, T. S., & Gross, J. J. (2016). Situational Strategies for Self-Control. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(1), 35–55.

  2. Pears, S., & Sutton, S. (2021). Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) interventions for promoting physical activity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Health Psychology Review, 15(1), 159–184.