Thinking of buying an fitness to get you motivated to exercise? Studies show tracking devices alone will not get you to work out more. If exercise is not already a habit, a fancy device may not have you running out the door. Fact is the exercise tracker will not motivate you any more than buying a new gym outfit or a pair of running shoes will. In fact studies show that people actually exercised less; unless they set personal goals and made the intent to follow them.
While the tracking devices are designed to promote engagement in health activities, participants showed a decrease in use between 3 to 6 months. One study found that 65% of its participants stopped using the activity tracker just a little after two weeks. The challenge in these devices is that in trying to engage people in healthy behaviors, people need more than the initial motivation for change. Incorporating long-term support may be the missing link in developing healthy behaviors.
Those who did find success in wearing the device, were motivated by competition or “their pride in achieving high numbers.” Others were influenced by the devices’ systems goals and rewards. Goals as seen here, could serve as indicators to have people be more aware of their own activity.
1. Write Down Your Personal Goals
How can you get results if you don’t know what it is you want? Writing down your SMART goals will help you get started on the path to developing the desired healthy behaviors.
S – Be specific. What exactly do you want to achieve? Writing down to lose weight or eat healthy is not specific enough.
M – Measurable. How will you be measuring your progress?
A – Attainable or Action-Oriented. How will you accomplish the goal? Will you realistically have the time and other resources such as the skillsets or knowledge to begin a proper exercise routine?
R – Relevant or rewarding. Why do you want to achieve this?
T – Time-Bound or Trackable. When will you accomplish this, 3 months, 6 months?
2. Make a Plan
First key to accomplishing any goal is to put a good structure in place to support you when you need it the most. Planning helps you build a roadmap to your destination. Now if you can afford a personal trainer they can probably do up to 90% of the planning for you, all you have to do is show up and give it your all. The Roadmap Course has valuable information for a healthy body and mind. In the meantime part of your planning will be to figure out:
- Where will you be working out?
- What resources do you need to help you succeed?
- What action steps will you take to start?
- Do you realistically have the time to commit to this?
- Schedule it in. Stick to same timeframes, this helps set the routine.
- What obstacles can you anticipate; like picking up a child from school, extra projects at work or car problems. Will you have a back up plan?
3. Set an Intention
Second key is intention. It takes time and effort to write down a plan with the intent to engage in a healthier way of life. Merely wanting to change, such as stating a desired outcome through goals and planning (or buying the newest exercise tracking device) doesn’t necessarily guarantee a successful change. Intentions are essential elements of a successful plan of action. The difference between success and failure in the goal setting and planning process is intention.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of intention is: “what one intends to do or bring about.” Intentions stimulate awareness and a sense of purpose to behaviors. Intention provides the focus and connection between the goals, plans and the desired outcome. Goal-directed behaviors can then become automatic.
4. Reward Yourself
Third key is to reward yourself. Rewards play a big role in habit development. People “who experienced intrinsic behavioral rewards are more likely to intend to repeat behavior,” do repeat the behavior. This repetition makes it easier to develop behaviors associated with the newfound habits. Setting rewards in the planning phase increases motivation and confidence. Don’t wait till the very end to treat your efforts.
In summary exercise-tracking devices alone will not have an impact on healthy behavior. Goal setting, planning, reinforcements and self-monitoring such as reminding yourself of your intention, have been shown to increase participation in physical activity. Make sure to repeat these action steps and turn the healthy behaviors into a new way of life.