Intrinsic & Extrinsic Goals in Physical Activity

Intrinsic motivators – the ultimate in being happy, short, medium and long term. Examples include; exercising/ socialising with others, feeling valued, increasing knowledge, having autonomy (actual/perceived), knowing you are physically healthier, enjoying physical challenges.

Extrinsic motivators – useful short term for getting started, achieving a short term goal, immediate encouragement. Examples include; free session, coffee voucher, client of the month, genuine encouragement, sincere praise, constructive feedback (without criticism), highest score, reaching a target (extrinsic motivators used too often can lead to diminishing effectiveness and also reduces the effect of intrinsic motivation)

Goals should be a balance of physical, mental and social with both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic goals;

  • *bring a friend to get a coffee voucher
  • *lose weight goal to look good
  • *pushing limits to get the highest score
  • *exercise because the doctor says I should
  • *exercise indoors to be in the warm
  • do ‘something’ to get a free session
  • exercise to sleep better

Intrinsic goals;

  • *bring a friend to socialise together
  • *lose weight goal to feel good/healthier
  • *pushing limits because it makes you happy (dopamine/serotonin)
  • *exercise to be healthier
  • *exercise outdoors to feel refreshed and improve my mood
  • having input and choice to what physical activity/exercise you do
  • learn something about what/why certain exercises help
  • learn the right techniques for particular exercises …
  • Socialising with others

(*reframing goals)

Trainers can have a huge impact here;

  • balancing extrinsic and intrinsic approaches
  • designing sessions that encourage social interaction
  • giving choice of exercise
  • including variety and making sessions enjoyable
  • designing exercises that encourage dopamine/serotonin release …

Move this way for more 🤸🏾‍♂️