If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll know that I struggle with exercise on a daily basis. OK, hands up…who else?
There is a yawning big gap in the market for a CBT therapist to specialize in exercise. Or at least overcoming the mental obstacles that prevent exercise. My recent post Psychologists Therapy Treats Mind and Body pointed to one such therapist who combines psychotherapy and fitness sessions. It’s a close match, although he doesn’t necessarily focus on a mind-exercise problem, as much as provide a treatment solution.
Despite my finely tuned powers of search I’ve only found one research paper on CBT and exercise: “Physical Activity in Women: Effects of a Self-Regulation Intervention.”
The paper’s conclusion is positive:
“…this study provides evidence that cognitive–behavioral strategies help women be more physically active. The self-regulation technique—mental contrasting with implementation intentions—was effective for initiating and maintaining behavior change. It is a low-cost intervention component that requires only a single session to learn the technique. People can then apply the technique on their own.”
That’s my kind of technique.
The conclusion is a no-brainer. The interesting thing to me is the technique used.
By way of summary, participants in the self-intervention group made diary entries and mental notes each day on the following:
- their most important current wish regarding physical activity
- the most positive outcome of realizing their wish and events and experiences they associated with this positive outcome
- the most critical obstacle together with events and experiences they associated with this obstacle
- three implementation intentions with the following questions:
- - When and where does the obstacle occur, and what can I do to overcome or circumvent the obstacle?
- - When and where is an opportunity to prevent the obstacle from occurring, and what can I do to prevent it from occurring?
- - When and where is a good opportunity for me to act on my wish, and what would this action be?
If you’re interested you can download a PDF of the research paper.