Tuesday, July 21, 2015

NYT Well: Rethinking Exercise as a Source of Immediate Rewards

I would agree with the conclusion of this study of exercise as reported by New York Time's Well blog:
“Health is not an optimal way to make physical activity relevant and compelling enough for most people to prioritize in their hectic lives,” Dr. Segar said in an interview. 
Though it seems counterintuitive, studies have shown that people whose goals are weight loss and better health tend to spend the least amount of time exercising. That is true even for older adults, a study of 335 men and women ages 60 to 95 showed. 
Rather, immediate rewards that enhance daily life — more energy, a better mood, less stress and more opportunity to connect with friends and family — offer far more motivation, Dr. Segar and others have found.  
Read the post in it's entirety here
I admit it freely: I'm a the kind of person that wants what I want, when I want it, and I want it yesterday. Guess that's referred to an instant gratification person. I can't watch the Food channel network for any length of time because I see a cake. I want a cake. I get a cake. I eat a cake.


Translating that to exercise goals is clearly evident: I remember what a pain-free knee feels like. I want a less painful knee. I exercise to reduce pain in my knee. My knee feels less painful after exercising.

Boom. I think that's clearly an example of "....immediate rewards that enhance daily life..."

It really is that simple for me. But I keep my leg weights in a basket next to my recliner in case I forget how much I like having less pain in my knee.


Laura said...

I am terrible at this, because I've never gotten the "rush" some people do from exercise. I just feel sweaty and tired and icky afterward. And I am lucky (and unlucky) in that I don't have pains that respond immediately to exercise.

However...I now have an app on my phone tied to my employer's health plan, which lets me earn "credits" for various good choices (including steps and time exercising, logged through my phone). Those "credits" can be used to enter raffles for free prizes. Of course the odds are terrible, but still, it feels like a chance at getting something I want, so it works. I also join challenges on MapMyFitness, when they have prizes that motivate me sufficiently. And if nothing's up on MMF, there's always The Walk (with its storyline). And currently work is doing a Thrive Across America challenge, and I don't want to let my team down.

In other words, absent immediately-obvious rewards, I just found ways to set up external rewards. I'm not walking to improve my health (okay, I am), or because it makes me feel great (because let's be frank, it doesn't)...I'm doing it because I am hoping to win an iPad, or hear the next part of the story, or not let down my teammates. :P

Just throwing this out in case this is helpful for any of your readers! Yes, two of the programs are part of my health insurance, but MapMyFitness and The Walk aren't, and there are others out there like them. (As an aside, I almost missed the 'credits' portion of my health plan, except the health survey that leads you into it gets you a discount on your premiums, in our case. THAT made me pay attention. If anyone is wondering if they have it, it's werally.com and would probably be mentioned at your health insurance site or somewhere on your benefits site - in my case, direct on my health insurance site, not on the benefits site at all. Confusing!)

Nicole said...

I agree! I usually feel better after exercise, and it helps me destress right away. I feel that way about food, too. Gluten makes me suffer in short order, so I avoid it. Sugar, on the other hand... ;)