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The Sport of Avoiding Sports and Exercise: A Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Perspective

Albert Ellis

The purpose of this article is to apply the rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) perspective to motivation to begin and continue regular exercise or sport involvement. A basic premise is that exercise and sports avoidance are usually motivated by low frustration tolerance and/or irrational fears of failing. The treatment of exercise and sports avoidance by REBT is multimodal, integrative, and involves the use of cognitive, emotive, and behavioral methods. Cognitive methods include disputing irrational beliefs, learning rational coping self-statements, referenting, and reframing. Emotive methods include the use of strong dramatic statements, rational emotive imagery, shame-attacking exercises, and role-playing. Various behavioral methods such as anxiety reducing assignments, operant conditioning, paradoxical homework, and stimulus control are explained. REBT focuses on helping exercise and sport avoiders find their inhibitory demands and change the demands into healthy preferences while promoting unconditional self-acceptance.