Why we don’t go to the gym as often as we planned

What does this mean?

First, all is not lost if you now think that your New Year’s goal of getting ripped off has gone completely off the rails. In this study, people continued to go to the gym, and people who were less able to estimate how much they would go to the gym were no more fickle.

But research showed that people who overestimated their future gym visits were significantly less aware of their self-control issues, and that meant they were less willing to invest more in changing their behavior.

There is a lot of evidence that people are not fully aware of their self-control issues.

“We find that participants with above-average memory bias are, on average, willing to pay $0.98 to add one visit to their future gym attendance, while participants with below-average memory bias are willing to pay $2.51 to pay,” the report said.

“This suggests that those with inflated memories of their past presence perceive themselves as less time-inconsistent and therefore need fewer incentives to motivate future behavior.”


So if you think you’ve been pretty good at the gym in the past and assume you’ll be going five days a week this year, you’re less likely to feel the need to upgrade your gym membership.

Whereas people who know they’ve been somewhat inconsistent with their fitness in the past seem more willing to pay more — perhaps by signing up for fitness classes, boot camps, or personal training — to help them reach their fitness goals.

This suggests to me that investing in better membership or courses might be a way to get more moving in 2023.

Another pre-release research paper, published late last year, suggests that focusing on the fun factor, such as


You don’t have to scroll long through social media apps like TikTok to find a video of a personal trainer suggesting combining the activity you don’t really enjoy (lifting weights at the gym) with something you enjoy (listening to a podcast) can make the workout easier.

It might also be worth remembering that just a few minutes of exercise a day can make you stronger, according to an Australian strength training study.

But what about that gap between what we think we’re going to do and what we actually end up doing? Even more data suggests it could be a matter of time — or rather, age.

Fitness tracking app Strava said that while its younger users (between 18 and 29 years old) set the best goals, the older users are, the better off they are at achieving their goals. Those over 60 were the most likely to achieve their goals, followed by those in their 50s and 40s.

Now their research doesn’t say why that is — younger people might have more ambitious goals, while older people might be more realistic about goal setting. Or maybe we just get better at persevering as we age.

However, if you’re not meeting your goal of going to the gym five times a week, know that you may have simply overestimated how often you would be going. Perhaps at this point it’s time to explore some other options that will make you want to lace up these runners more often.

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https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/why-we-re-not-going-to-the-gym-as-much-as-we-d-planned-yes-already-20230114-p5ccii.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_business Why we don’t go to the gym as often as we planned

Brian Lowry

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