If you have ever had a short-lived resolution, you know that planning a new goal is simple, but really going through with that goal can be pretty difficult. Luckily, a new study released in JAMA Cardiology found the key to forming lasting habits: It is all about creating fitness goals and working on them right away.
The four month long research had 500 people from lower-income areas, who either had a heart disease or were at increased risk of getting such a disease. They all used wearable trackers to watch their physical activity, then they were split into groups. One control group and one gamified group.
Those people in the gamified group had two challenges: One group decided whether their daily goals would be given to them or if they would choose them; the other decided if they would begin their goal starting right then or gradually get up to it.
The key to lasting results.
The researchers discovered those who selected their own goals and began them starting immediately had the best average daily step count (around 1,384 steps). They also maintained those moderate to high physical activity levels during the two-month follow-up.
“It was exciting to watch the group that boosted their activity levels as they kept those levels during the follow-up,” lead study researcher Mitesh S. Patel, M.D., said inside a press release. “This shows that gamification along with self-chosen and prompt goals aided these patients in forming a new habit.”
The lesson from this? Find an exercise that you like! If running causes you to be miserable or hurts your joints, don’t try to run a mile every day. If you like loud music along with fast cardio to get through a workout, it is probably not a good idea to invest in a yoga membership.
“People who chose their own goals are much more likely to be internally motivated to go through with them,” reported Kevin Volpp, M.D., Ph.D., leader of the Center for Health Incentives. “These people feel like they own their goal, and this probably helps them have a greater engagement with that goal.”
Author: Scott Dowdy