About a year ago I read a research study that tracked changes in body weight of people participating in road races (running) for the first time (since there was an observed surge in the number of people running races throughout the U.S.) The study was considered important by the researchers because if more people running races was in any way related to improving the racers’ health, then efforts to increase road race participation might be a good way to improve public health. In other words, the researchers wanted to know if people were signing up for and running races as a motivator to start exercising more, and whether or not they actually were exercising more as a result of running races.
Did racing improve health?
The researchers actually learned that even over the first couple of years following peoples’ first experiences running races, these people generally experienced no improvements in body weight. Now, I think there were several things in this study that could have been done better, but I still think there was a potentially accurate message of great value.
What were their personal “hurdles”?
There were several reasons the tracked first-time race participants didn’t improve their health the way they had hoped. Some of the main reasons included reoccurring injuries, lack of time, lessened interest, and no social support. Chances are most people reading this have all experienced at-least one of these personal “hurdles” to being consistent with your exercise habits.
Why should I identify my personal “hurdles”?
One of the most effective strategies to being consistent in anything (especially exercising) is to simply identify the specific things that impede your consistency. Many people believe that once a goal or list of potential hurdles is written down that 85% of the work is done! I also believe this – My goals as a college runner were always accomplished when I wrote down the specific things I needed to do in order to reach my goals, as well as potential hurdles that might have kept me from keeping my goals (see barriers to physical activity assessment). Many of our hurdles to our exercise goals are similar; however, identifying them very specifically (the link above is a great way to do that) will certainly improve your exercising consistency.
By Trever Ball – Exercise Physiologist | Epidemiologist | Local Elite Athlete