I need to care more about the negative consequences of not doing it

Two Women walking with pushchairs

The view of many people who are inactive is that “why should they do it”? If physical activity isn’t something that is part of your life and you’re unaware of the benefits, you may not see it as important and won’t go out of your way to become active. Also, if the balance of not seeing the value of being active compared to the challenges to becoming active is not right, then becoming active isn’t likely. The aim isn’t to scare people into activity or saying that harm will come to inactive people, but the evidence is there to say active people have better quality of life and reduced risk of health conditions. If you don’t value your health at this point then there’s little that can be done but if you do have one eye on your health, then understanding the impact of physical activity may be beneficial. The infographic below highlights the reduction in risk of some of the health conditions that being active can have. Conversely, this is the potential increased risk of being inactive.

However, away from specific health conditions, being active, and we don’t mean marathon running but just being up and about on a regular basis, can maintain your independence as you age. Again, that may not be something that you’re considering right now but that strength and balance reduces earlier in people that are inactive. This may impact you towards the end of your working life, effecting your employment and income opportunities and may result in frailty earlier than expected. That may impact on your abilities to socialise, enjoy retirement, play with your grandchildren amongst other things.

This may be a negative view on being inactive and isn’t designed to scare you, but if you would like to get more active but feel it’s difficult because you need to care more to keep it going, you need to find something that you genuinely fear and use that as your motivation. Some people are motivated by achievement, others are motivated to avoid failure. It doesn’t matter what motivates you, but you need to have that as a tool to keep you going.

Wheelchair user lifting dumbells

Feelings of Regret & Punishment

A strong negative emotion that you can feed off is the feeling of regret or impending punishment. This is difficult to create if your being active on your own but if you are doing activities with other people, the feeling of letting them down if you’ve made arrangements can act as a motivator to ‘drag’ yourself to your activity. What can also come from letting your friends/family down like this is the feeling of social punishment if your friends/family are annoyed with you. That fear of letting friends and family down is a strong motivator and you can actively build that into your activity plan.

Group of men playing football

Imaging your Future Self

One negative aspect that may influence your behaviour is how you see yourself in the future. If you’re inactive, don’t necessarily eat well, maybe smoke, there’ll potentially be images of how you think you may look and be like when you’re older. Is that an image of someone you want to be? If you want to make a change in how you look, how you behave and/or how you’re viewed by others, you need to make a change and getting in a bit more physical activity can make a huge amount of benefits for you. Evidence suggests improved weight, physical and mental health and better social interactions to be the person you want to be.

Redress the Balance

As mentioned at the top of the page, the balance between valuing your health and the effort to become more active is the key aspect that will determine whether you will change your behaviour or not. You can add activity into your day quite easily in it’s simplest form, for more information on doing that you can visit our knowledge page by clicking this link here. The easier you can make being active, the more likely you’ll do it and maintain it. The other side of the balance is how much you value your health and how much you see an active lifestyle enabling that. Some information on this is above but if you have any concerns about your health now or in the future, this will also help motivate you to change some behaviours.


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