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Trouble Reaching Fitness Goal? Try a Race

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It's easy to conjure a fitness goal, but not always easy to sustain the motivation to reach it. So how do you ensure you'll keep it up? Sign up for a race.

Turns out signing up for a race fits neatly into the Theory of Planned Behavior, an "influential psychological model that makes the fairly obvious point that most human behavior is goal-oriented," according to the Los Angeles Times.

The theory states, most obviously, that if you have a positive attitude toward a particular behavior, and if you think other people are supportive of it, you're more likely to adopt it. So if you're enthusiastic about working out, and if you feel your friends and family are supportive of your exercise goal, odds are you'll cotton on to it.

Also playing a big role: perceived behavioral control, which refers to how much control you believe you have over your life. If you truly think you can make the time, plan for and follow through on all the steps necessary for achieving your fitness goals, you will.

"Registering for something like a fundraising ride, a race of a fitness competition can be a powerful tool for motivating a person to get off the couch and push his or her fitness to a higher level," says the LA Times. "Just consider the loafer who signs up to run a marathon six months from now. In those few minutes it took to register, she made a powerful statement about what she intends to do over the next half year." 

The LA Times continues:

"Such an act fits well within TPB's model: When you pay the registration fee, it conveys a positive attitude about the event. Subjective norm is generally high, as your fellow racers share the group spirit that helps urge you toward the finish line. Even more important is what those close to you think. If your friends and family aren't jerks, they're probably going to encourage you as well. Finally, the mere act of registering for a race usually means you think you can actually do it, which translates into having a high degree of perceived behavioral control."

Has signing up for a race changed you?

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