If you could take a magic pill that would make you lose weight and be in shape, would you take it? It’s an interesting thought and helps examine different types of motivation.
Intrinsic motivation generally is described as performing an activity for itself, as well as for the pleasure and satisfaction derived from participation. In other words, you like the activity because it’s enjoyable and you are satisfied with the activity regardless of external rewards. Extrinsic motivation is described as engaging in an activity as a means to an end and not for its own sake. Extrinsic motivation is usually associated with extrinsic rewards like social acceptance, rewards, and monetary compensation (Deci & Ryan 2000).
Most exercise researchers will agree that intrinsic motivation is ideal for developing a positive attitude toward exercise because the individual wants to exercise because they like it and it makes them feel good. People who are intrinsically motivated about exercise would probably opt out of taking the "magical pill" because they would see no value or pleasure in terminating their exercise program.
On the flip side, people who are extrinsically motivated about exercise may be more likely to choose the magical pill because their motivation for exercise is based more on social pressure, weight loss and external rewards. However, this does not mean that extrinsic motivation is a bad thing. Many people start an exercise program for external reasons like losing weight, controlling diabetes and reducing blood pressure. In addition, some companies and workplace establishments set fitness goals and sponsor contests to promote their employees being more physically fit.
These types of motivations can lead a person to intrinsic motivation. Sure, you may start to exercise to win a prize at work, but that workout routine could lead to a new behavior, and that new behavior could lead to a healthier lifestyle.
No matter if you are intrinsically motivated or extrinsically motivated about exercise, it’s always a good idea to track your progress through goal setting … so get those goals working for you.