Think about a time when you’ve been really successful with a health-related goal. It could be something as small as trying to decrease your intake of fast food, cutting back on sodium to reduce your blood pressure, or trying to up your activity either through more steps per day or getting to an exercise class.
Were you able to keep doing these activities even when your motivation was lacking a bit? How? If you were able to stick with your goal, pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Unfortunately for many of us, we start out really strong but that motivation seems to go away. We have the carrot at the end of the stick, whether it’s Jan. 1, the approach of summer and bathing suit season, the class reunion, or a visit to the doctor that didn’t go as well as anticipated; but at times it’s not always enough.
Sometimes all it takes is someone holding us accountable to keep up the change and add a little push. A study published in the journal Health Psychology found that sedentary adults who received regular phone calls either by a health educator or an automated system reported greater physical activity than those who didn’t (1). The act of being accountable and having to report to someone what they did in terms of physical activity was enough to make these individuals stick with their goals.
So the next time you decide to make a health-related change in your life, think about enlisting the support of others. Join a social network, have friends e-mail or call to make sure you got up in the morning to walk that day or report back to them what you ate for the day or find a “buddy” who may have a similar goal that the two of or you or group of you can do it together.
- King AC, Friedman R, Marcus B, Castro C, Napolitano M, Ahn D, Baker L. Ongoing physical activity advice by humans versus computers: the Community Health Advice by Telephone (CHAT) trial. Health Psychol. 2007 Nov;26(6):718-27.