All of us will agree that there is value in people exercising; however, we sometimes don’t include ourselves as the “people” who exercise will be of value.

This belief means that the action necessary to include exercise in our daily routine becomes a low priority when life gets busy.


The process of making choices


Dan Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist, says that our decisions to act depend on the likelihood of the action returning value in reasonable time.

Dan Gilbert uses the example of receiving $50 now or $60 in a month’s time, most people opting for the $50 now.

He argues that value is time sensitive; if the benefit were to be received in the future, it would reverse most people’s decision. That is, most people would prefer to receive $60 in 13 months rather than $50 in 12 months. What’s a month when the wait is a year!

Gilbert, demonstrates that even though 30 days is an absolute measure,  it feels different when expressed in the  past, present or future tense.

He explains, that the future tense doesn’t hold value to us because we haven’t as yet had an experience that we can relate.

Here lies the problem with exercise decisions: we make them  in the present tense based on our experience of the past.


Past experiences discourages exercise


Let’s put it into the context for what this means to us when we try to implement exercise into our present life, for our future benefit.


Our past self-was:

  • Younger
  • Healthy without exercise
  • Thinner without exercise
  • Active without exercise
  • Happy without exercise
  • Attractive without exercise


Implementing exercise is difficult because even though we understand the benefits of exercise being;

  • Becoming metabolically younger
  • Improving  health
  • Managing  weight
  • Enjoying an active life
  • Improving feelings of well-being
  • Looking attractive with the glow of vitality


We base our decision to exercise by looking back to a time when we may have had the benefits of exercise without exercising.

We naturally then underestimate the importance of exercise to improve our future self based on our past experience.

Recognizing this and taking action to exercise will see our health and fitness improve and be sustained as we travel through our lives.


Thought for the Week: Exercise for future self.


One of my favorite quotes is by Herbert Marshall McLuhan who was a Canadian professor and philosopher, he said:


When we look at the present through a rear view mirror. We march backwards into the future.


Live well with fitness.