The Magic Pill, Episode #1: The Rewards Right Now

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Welcome and congratulations! You've just launched yourself on a 21-day podcast series that aims to help you change how you feel about exercise. We call it "The Magic Pill" because exercise is the closest thing there is to a magic pill for your health. But our goal is to help you see being more active not as a "should," but as a treat, a gift, maybe even a joy.

Today, the first step: Dr. Eddie Phillips and fitness motivation expert Michelle Segar talk about what seems to help more people stay active than anything else: the immediate, feel-good rewards. Listen to the full episode above.

A Closer Look

Michelle Segar says the first step is to ask yourself: “Has what I’ve been doing over the last few years actually kept me motivated to exercise?” (Her recent book, “No Sweat: How The Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You A Lifetime of Fitness,” is one of our bibles.)

This may not be you, but here’s how she recently described what happens to a lot of people:

(Courtesy of Sharon Joseph)

When we’re kids, most of us love running around and playing and being physically active. Then, in adulthood, all of a sudden the meaning of physical activity has changed: from something you did to have fun during your leisure time with your friends to a body-sculpting tool you’re using to try to take off the extra pounds you’ve packed on lately. Your doctor is shaking a finger at you, and you pick physical activities not based on pleasure or recreation or as a way to have some ‘me’ time, which all of us desperately need. Instead, you pick physical activities that are going to deliver these health- or weight-related outcomes. No fun. Hard to keep doing. Really hard.

The fascinating thing is, research shows that abstract health reasons for exercising, like weight loss or avoiding a future illness, are actually less motivating than moving because you want to feel better, or have fun, or reduce your stress, or enhance your well-being.

Enjoyed The Music?

That was Cordelia & The Buffalo performing the song "Free."

Cordelia & The Buffalo
Cordelia & The Buffalo

Cordelia is a Mexican-American singer and songwriter. The Texan native draws her unique musical inspiration from Mexican Indian tribes. The group has played at SXSW and Oshega and recently moved to LA after graduating from Berklee College of Music. You can listen to the full Magic Pill playlist on

CommonHealth Recommendations

Start by reading 10 Mental Prep Tips For Starting A New Fitness Regimen This September.

For more mental prep, check out our “Get Coached!” session on Facebook with Dr. Eddie Phillips and leading wellness coach Margaret Moore a.k.a. “Coach Meg”.

Eddie and Margaret have also just co-authored a Harvard Health Publications book on getting your psychological ducks in a row to set yourself up for success: "Organize Your Emotions, Optimize Your Life."

Headshot of Carey Goldberg

Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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