Want To Trick Yourself Into More Exercise? Yeah, Good Luck With That
One of the biggest predictors of overall gym attendance during the study period was not whether people made plans to visit the gym but rather how often they had visited the gym before the study period.
- Nudges are to get people do things that are good for them or the society
- Researchers used the gym's records of member to track exercise frequency
- If you want to start going to gym, it's best to already be going there
The authors tried to suss out why this was. The subjects certainly believed that planning out their visits could help them exercise more: Before the study period, 60 percent of all subjects agreed with the statement "I don't go to the gym as much as I would like because I don't set aside time for it in my schedule; then my schedule fills up and I no longer have time to go to the gym." The treatment subjects also appeared to try to stick to their plans: "[S]ubjects are more than twice as likely to attend the gym on planned days than on unplanned days," the study found.
But the researchers discovered that not all plans were fulfilled. There remained a considerable gap between a stated intent to exercise on a given day and actually showing up to the gym that day. In fact, one of the biggest predictors of overall gym attendance during the study period was not whether people made plans to visit the gym but rather how often they had visited the gym before the study period.
In other words, people already inclined to go to the gym continued to go to the gym, regardless of whether they had made concrete plans to do so or not. This creates a discouraging circularity for anyone hoping to change their exercise routine: If you want to start going to the gym, it's best to already be going there.
Why does the nudge fail in this case? The researchers suspect that planning nudges may be more useful for one-time events, such as doctor appointments. Activities that are repeated, such as going to the gym, are easier to put off. "Repeated behaviors like exercise . . . are very unlikely to produce a feeling of urgency, since many individuals likely have the mind-set that they can always exercise 'later,' " the authors explain.
Unfortunately for many of the would-be exercisers among us, that "later" never comes.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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