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Milken Institute School of Public Health
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Liz Borkowski, MPH
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Events > Pleasure Principle

The Pleasure Principle: Women, Exercise and Motivation
December 12, 2000

Michelle Segar described cultural barriers that keep women from exercising regularly and outlined a program to address those barriers.


  • Maintaining a relationship can take over "self care." Free time is dedicated to taking care of others' needs.
  • Before Title IX was enacted in 1972, girls and young women generally were not encouraged to participate in sports or physical activities and had few opportunities to do so.
  • Media images of very thin women may spur women to take up exercise but actually hinder them from continuing to exercise when they don't achieve the "perfect" figure as a result.


  • Create a personalized meaning for exercise, one you enjoy, feel motivate to do, and is all about giving in to yourself.
  • Become aware of the beliefs and expectations about exercise that prevent you from deriving pleasure and/or from doing it.
  • Give yourself permission to change beliefs that hinder your enjoyment of physical activity and to make self-care activities a high priority.
  • Experiment with new activities and "try on" new attitudes. Learn new skills for activities that will be fun.

After 5-14 months, Ms. Segar found that participants in this exercise program had increased their amounts of light exercise over a long period.

Speaker: Michelle Segar, MS, MPH, President, The National Center for Women and Wellness

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