Many people start with a resolution on Monday to stick to their workout plan that week, but finish almost before they’ve started. Do you know why?
You may say maybe it’s for lack of motivation or willpower. Although I have mentioned in my previous columns that “motivation requires meaning”, so if you know the real reason for pushing yourself then you can gain the momentum to do it much easier. And of course, when you start to see positive changes in your life you most likely will get self motivated too.
But I would like to talk about one more reason, and that’s your genetics. Yes, it is true that your genes can play a role in how self motivated you are. So maybe you are genetically more likely to start your workout plan on a Monday but not to continue — which is good news, you are not lazy or weak minded, it really is your genetics that are affecting your behavior.
Researchers have identified a variation in the BDNF gene (rs6265) as your motivation to exercise. If both of your parents have an enhanced variation of this gene then probably you are very competitive and your motivation to exercise will be enhanced. If you don’t have this genetic variation then probably you have a hard time motivating yourself.
BDNF stands for brain derived neurotrophic factor, it is a protein that works in part of the brain to affect the nervous system, the blood vessels and the musculature.
“The brain-derived neurotrophic factor is a protein that is encoded by the BDNF gene. This protein works in regions of the brain to influence the nervous system, musculature, and blood vessels, all of which are important to exercise. Because of the complexity of mental stamina and the psychological response to exercise, the BDNF gene is only one of many possible genetic factors that may influence responses to exercise and future exercise behaviour.”
Whether or not you have this genetic advantage, what can you do to enhance your motivation for exercise? Here are a few ideas:
• Use measuring objectives, such as a simple step counter or a watch.
• Make a reasonable short term goal and write it dow.n
• Treat yourself with a small gift when you stick to plan (but try not to treat yourself with food, choose something else.)
• Add the time that you are you going to exercise to your calendar and set a reminder, so that you plan it in your day and never miss it
• Take one small goal at time.
• If you don’t feel like training, put your exercise clothes on anyway.
• Even if you really don’t have time, do just 5 minutes of whatever you can so that you still can claim that you did your workout.
• Find a partner to be accountable.
• Tell your family and friends. so that you feel responsible
• Attend group classes.
• Never ask yourself “should I do my exercise today” as you will always find an excuse not to.
You can do a simple genetic test to learn how your genes affect so many things in your life, it is very helpful. But even you don’t have the genes to naturally motivate yourself you still can alter your genes. Positive and consistent actions create positive outcome. Remember, what is your reason to do it in the first place? Find your reason and then just keep moving, doing whatever you can…
• “Genetic Influences on Physiological and Subjective Responses to an Aerobic Exercise Session among Sedentary Adults”; https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jce/2012/540563/
• “nutrigenomix: Genetic Testing for Personalized Nutrition”; https://nutrigenomix.com/
• “High motivation for exercise is associated with altered chromatin regulators of monoamine receptor gene expression in the striatum of selectively bred mice”; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27749013/
• “A Transdisciplinary Model Integrating Genetic, Physiological, and Psychological Correlates of Voluntary Exercise”; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1896050/
• “Exercise promotes the expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) through the action of the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate”; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4915811/
Ayda Ersoy is anutritionist (Dip.C.N., Dip.S.N.), master trainer (CPT ACE, NCSF, CanfitPro), registered yoga teacher, founder, Health Angel Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness, and founder, SMS (Stability, Mobility Strength) Intuitive Training System.