CM 068: Michelle Segar on Exercise for Life

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blog-post-segar-and-no-sweatIf you struggle with exercise, Michelle Segar has a secret for you: Stop blaming yourself! Blame the system!

After years of studying the science of motivation, Michelle Segar, Ph.D., Director of SHARP — the Sport, Health, and Activity research and policy center at the University of Michigan — has created a framework for rethinking exercise that swaps out prescription for meaning. Filled with practical tips and strategies, Michelle’s bestselling book, No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness, is informed by years of putting these findings into practice with people just like you.

Some of the things we discuss in this interview:

  • How systems determine our success in sustaining physical activity
  • Why exercise is about so much more than weight loss
  • Why finding the right whys make all the difference in our health and wellness
  • How reflecting on how we feel when we move can help us sustain activity
  • Why relying on willpower is such a short-sighted strategy
  • The important role of emotions and decision making in activity for life
  • Why meaning trumps should every time when it comes to changing our behaviors
  • How we approach eating following a workout we enjoy versus a workout like work
  • How exercise recommendations became so prescriptive
  • Fewer than 1 percent of American adults know how much exercise is recommended
  • How small of a role logical and rational behavior play in our choosing to exercise
  • Why we need a new kind of fitness prescription based on how we live and feel
  • How we help others when we prioritize our self care
  • How a go-to activity resource prevents us from wasting time and energy
  • Why reflecting on the immediate benefits of physical exercise fuels us long term
  • The importance of finding exercise we love
  • Getting past the idea that movement only counts when we sustain it for periods of time
  • How awareness of our current situation empowers us to take ownership for what we want it to be
  • Why negotiation skills can reap big benefits in helping us create time for physical activity

Links to Topics Mentioned in this Podcast


Paulo Freire

Dan Ariely

Behavioral economics

Reward Substitution

Self-determination theory

No Sweat Resolutions Quiz

2015 USA Best Book Awards

SHARP at the University of Michigan

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Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo, and thank you to Rob Mancabelli for all of his production expertise!



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