Your Mindset Affects Your Exercise Habits

behavior change brain science change evidence based exercise exercise behaviors fitness mindset goal achievement growth mindset habits mindset mindset coach mindset research mindset shift motivation psychology research research Jul 25, 2021

Subtle citation flex ⁣coming at ya! You all know that I love sharing the science of healthy living with you, and today, I realized that while I share a lot of studies from other researchers, I rarely share my own. 

In 2018 I conducted research which was published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology in 2019⁣. I looked to see whether a relationship between mindset and exercise frequency exists (spoiler alert: yes, it does!)

Essentially, a growth mindset is a belief that we can change our behaviors and actions. Those of us with a growth mindset look at our failures and setbacks as opportunities to grow and learn. We are also more likely to take criticism constructively and persist in the face of challenges or setbacks. 

Through my research, I found that if a person has a growth mindset about weight, it will serve as a buffer against weight gain after a severe dieting setback. The growth mindset also predicts that they will make healthier food choices and be more motivated to exercise. 

⁣Without training in interpreting statistics or reading scientific results, this figure can be a little confusing, but I left the beta values for my stats-savvy friends out there.

Lemme break it down for you:

 

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Fitness Mindset: ⁣

Measures the strength of your growth mindset about fitness.⁣

Fitness Identity & Value:⁣

Measures how much you value and identify with fitness and exercise⁣.

Exercise Self-Efficacy:⁣

Measures how likely you are to persist with your exercise goals in the face of obstacles.⁣

Exercise Frequency:⁣

Measures how much exercise you’ve gotten in the last 3, 6, and 12 months.

 

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1️. There is a significant relationship between MINDSET and EXERCISE FREQUENCY.⁣ So, the stronger your growth mindset, the more likely you are to exercise more frequently.⁣ BUT this relationship is mediated by your fitness value & identity, and self-efficacy.⁣

Which means…⁣

2️. A strong growth mindset increases your value & identity, and self-efficacy…and BECAUSE OF THIS, we see greater exercise frequency.⁣

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⁣This study provides an example of the importance of your mindset when it comes to how often you exercise.⁣ But, it’s not just a direct relationship between a growth mindset and more exercise.⁣ Having a growth mindset increases a lot of other “good stuff” like your values, what you identify with, and your self-efficacy⁣ (aka VERY important things for sustained behavior change)⁣.

And it’s that increase in “good stuff” that likely leads you to exercise more often and make healthier food choices. ⁣

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YOUR TAKEAWAY

⁣Mindset is a science. Statistics and all.⁣ And, according to scientists (aka me - in this case), mindset matters for your health behavior change endeavors.⁣

If you’re looking to improve your health and exercise more frequently, you have to have a strong growth mindset (know that failures aren’t fatal), value the importance of exercise (have a good “why”), and stay determined regardless of obstacles that come your way. With that, you’ll find yourself exercising more often and finally reaching your goals.