Physical activity and social pressure

17 June, 2022

By Sarah Baribeau founder of Bougeotte and Placotine

Social media brings multiple opportunities to experience guilt. Especially when you tend to have a little performance side. It can indeed happen that by looking at the lives of others, we not only have the impression that the grass is greener elsewhere, but everything seems better than at home. Even if we repeat to ourselves that social media is only a part of reality, we continue to believe that we can never do enough and we feel guilty. What about physical activity? Of course, like the rest, by looking at the "feed" of our friends, colleagues or other totally unknown humans, we draw the conclusion that we are the least active of the gang.

As the owner of a company that promotes the practice of physical activity, and moreover with future and new mothers, I am aware that the line can be fine between pressure and motivation. As a kinesiologist, my goal is to help people acquire healthy lifestyle habits. How can the client become independent in her practice of physical activity and develop a healthy, long-term relationship with her? Well, I humbly tell you part of the answer.

Extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation versus pressure.

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation is motivation that comes from an external agent. For example, a person might want to start moving to participate in a triathlon, to set a record time in a race, to prepare for a long hike, to please their friend, or perhaps to meet social standards. . Extrinsic motivation is not something negative in itself, it is simply motivation that comes from outside of oneself.

Intrinsic motivation :

Motivation is intrinsic when the reason for which a person takes an action is directly related to the task. For example, if I go running in the morning, it's really because it makes me feel good at that time. So I'm motivated to get up and go. My daughter loves gymnastics, she goes there, because she loves to move. My sister loves paddle boarding, so she finds time in her life to practice it.

Can these types of motivations coexist?

Of course, intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation can coexist. Sometimes, in order to acquire new life habits, one may need extrinsic motivation. For example, having a private follow-up with a kinesiologist, or registering for a group class or a popular race. These motivations for having an appointment or a goal will help in acquiring the practice of physical activity. After a certain time, on average 21 days, you will be able to feel the benefits in addition to having taken the habit of doing it every week. You will then likely develop intrinsic motivation, which will make your life much easier to get moving. You will reach a point where coach or not, group class or not, you will enjoy practicing your activity, you will do it for yourself, because you will be good with this activity and it will be part of your life. Sometimes also, registering, for example for a competition, allows you to motivate yourself to be more diligent in your practice. Then, the important thing is to find pleasure in practicing your activity and that the relationship with it is positive.

And the pressure?

Now the pressure, it can be very tricky. It can come and settle without us noticing. The pressure will come from the external gaze on oneself. For example, if we start sharing our race outings on our social media. Suddenly, the motivation to go running is no longer intrinsic, but extrinsic and can even be accompanied by pressure. “What are they going to think if I run slower? Not long enough? If in the end I don't reach the goal I set myself? If I don't participate in the race I signed up for?"

It is important, for your mental and physical health, to take a step back regularly, in order to ask yourself why you practice such an activity, or why you want to start moving. If your answer is felt, for example you want to take care of yourself, to surpass yourself, or whatever, you will be more likely to maintain the practice of this activity. You will also be proud of yourself, without needing the approval of others. Bye bye pressure!

I suggest that you take the time to connect with yourself and reflect on the lifestyle you need and want to have. Why not keep it to yourself? Write it down in a notebook and come back to it as often as necessary. And if you need support, then the kinesiologists are there to accompany you, always respecting your rhythm and your desires.

Happy free and active summer!