The lesson from all of this? Find the exercise that works for you! If running makes you miserable and hurts your joints, don’t make it your goal to run a mile every morning. If you need loud music and fast-paced cardio to get you through your workout, it’s probably not wise to invest in that yoga subscription. 

Certified Pilates instructor Helen Phelan refers to this as intuitive exercise, which is all about “finding an exercise modality that brings you joy and paying attention to how your body feels when you’re moving.” And just as the study reinforced: “Using that mood, energy, and confidence boost as your motivation will help foster a much longer-lasting habit,” Phelan said of setting healthy goals.

“Individuals who select their own goals are more likely to be intrinsically motivated to follow through on them,” said Kevin Volpp, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics. “They feel like the goal is theirs, and this likely enables greater engagement.” 

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