Got Health Goals? Research-based Tips for Adopting and Sticking to New Healthy Lifestyle Behaviours

Why do we struggle with health behaviour goals?

Self-regulation is an extensive research topic in psychology. As a professor of health psychology, my research focuses on understanding the “intention-behaviour gap” in physical activity, 카지노사이트 and testing interventions that may help close this gap.

My own research, and studies from my colleagues, has shown evidence that difficulty in following through on intentions often comes from two sources. The first is strategic challenges, which are flawed approaches to thinking about goals and behaviour. The second is basic human tendencies when faced with what psychologists call approach/avoidance conflict: when something is appealing and unappealing at the same time.

In terms of strategic challenges, the details of the goal itself can be one of the first indicators of whether someone will struggle. For example, the intention to engage in physical activity is often based on desired long-term outcomes (such as weight control, fitness and reducing the risks of chronic disease) without due consideration of the time and effort required to perform regular physical activity itself.

Another key strategic challenge is the failure to consider multiple goals, which is likely to under-estimate the resources needed to perform other behaviours. Juggling multiple goals is one of the prime reasons why new intentions are often abandoned: new behaviours like exercise must compete with or coincide with all the other things someone needs or wants to do.

Contemporary research also shows that people may have automatic tendencies that, on balance, tend to derail health behaviours. For example, people have a basic underlying tendency to approach experience

Physical activity can be an adverse experience for many because it requires the body to stop resting and experience some exhaustion and discomfort. This negative experience during the activity is more predictive of future behaviour than the positive feelings after one completes a bout of physical activity.

Relatedly, research stemming from evolutionary biology has supported a basic human tendency to minimize energy costs, which stems from an evolutionary survival necessity. This makes people tend to avoid unnecessary movement (like exercise) while increasing their energy stores (snacking on energy-dense foods), creating an underlying temptation to ditch our healthy eating and physical activity plans.

Effective strategies for sticking with intentions

When we understand why we are not enacting our new health behaviour goals, it can help in developing counter-measures. Research in this area is ongoing, with diverse approaches. Strategies can be prospective (i.e. developed before enactment of the goal) or reactive (i.e. used at the point of enactment decision) in their implementation. 바카라사이트

To overcome strategic challenges, research has shown the effectiveness of developing detailed plans, such as formulation of what you are going to do, how, where and when you will do it, followed by contingencies if there is a conflict with your plan.

Monitoring your goals regularly is also one of the most successful approaches to keeping a behaviour on your radar.

In terms of our more automatic tendencies to disrupt health behaviour intentions, a focus on the behavioural experience itself is critical. Making the health behaviour as pleasant, convenient and meaningful to you as possible, and performing it at times when you have the most energy (to fight temptations), will help increase the probability of following through on good intentions. 온라인카지노

However, in times when you are faced with a strong urge to abandon your health goal for a more immediately gratifying diversion, this is when you want to take a moment to acknowledge your primal feelings, but enact your valued intentions.

It’s important to keep in mind that most of the health changes people are trying make with these good intentions are lifestyle behaviours. As such, a few slipped days are inconsequential to the overall goal.

There is also theory and evidence that self-regulation strategies like the ones above may become less necessary over time. This because people begin to form habits from repeating these actions, as well as a sense of satisfaction or identity from continual practice that enables them to take ownership of the behaviour and categorize themselves in the role. So sticking to those intentions in the short term will likely make it easier to continue over a lifetime.

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