SMARTtarget Physical Fitness December 2014

The goal is to list the principles, practices, and products that help you improve your physical fitness. Some guiding principles can be found in steps 7,8,9 of SMARTsteps at this  website.  In general the goals/targets will be in one of three categories; endurance, strength, flexibility.

Automaticity, Behavior Change Made Easy?

There is a concept in behavioral research known as automaticity.  The general concept is that there are behaviors that can occur without actual conscious choice, without thinking.  There is also some suggestion that we can influence selected behaviors to become automatic.  Wouldn’t it be nice if simple behaviors such as getting enough rest, eating right, and getting regular exercise could be programmed through the process of automaticity?

I have seen some research that automaticity could be induced by exposure to words.  The first experiment that I became aware of involved students who were asked to unscramble sentences, picking four of five given words.  As an example a student was given  “she, him, at, worried, always”, which could become “she worried him always”.  The students thought this was the experiment, but the real interest was observing what happened next.

They were asked to go down the hall to ask another professor for instruction.  When they got to the professor, the professor was to be talking to another student, and they were never going to stop talking to each other.  The question was how long did it take for the student who just unscrambled the sentence to interrupt.  Unknown to the students, there were two groups of sentences that were being unscrambled.  One group was given all positive words, like kind, tolerant, patient etc.  The second group was given all negative words to work with like,  impatient, unkind, angry etc.  The act of unscrambling the words was called priming.  What the researchers found was that those students who were “primed” with the negative words interrupted sooner than those students who were primed with the positive words.  This suggest that words that we are exposed to consciously can have an effect on our behavior subconsciously automatically.  Hmmm???

So this got me thinking; in a digital age that require passwords all day (like our phones) that we can set ourselves…  Why not use words that would set positive intentions.  That way as we use passwords they would be bathing our consciousness with words that would encourage positive or desired behaviors.  Repeating words such as diligent, courage, health, success, order, can’t hurt and there could be a big payoff.  In fact we should be paying closer attention to our “word diet” over the course of the day.  We may find that we are often planting words that are not helping us.  Just some food for thought : )  Time to change my passwords…

1 Minute? Really? That I can do : )

Historically, we have been taught that  for health benefits you need anywhere from 40-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.  This changed a bit to say that it does not have to be formal exercise but any type of “physical activity” that gets your heart rate going.  Well, there seems to be another change developing.  Some researchers have published studies that suggest that if you exercise for 1 minute at 80% of your maximal heart rate (220 minus your age), rest for a minute, and then repeat this for a total of 10, 1 minute sessions, that this is equivalent to working out for 40 minutes.  This is really good news, especially for those who find it hard to get in 40 minutes of exercise in the course of the day.  This was talked about in a recent New York Times article.  Its called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

Hearing (reading) this info, I decided to take this a little further.  Knowing other research that states that your don’t have to do your exercise (40 minutes) all at one time, I wondered what would be the benefits of exercising for 1 minute per hour over the course of the work day.  I tried it one day, only doing 3 sessions (my legs were hurting too much from the dynamic squats which was my chosen exercise), and I think there is great potential.  I could do this in my work clothes, did not sweat, and the brief mental break helped me maintain focus on my work.  This strategy could also be of benefit for all of the women that have trouble working out because of concerns for their hair.

I am going to stick with this strategy until my legs build up for me to tolerate the activity over the course of the day, and report back.  For those reading this, why don’t you give it a try and let me know what happens.  Of course those who have concern for their heart need to start an exercise program gradually.  Also, its always a good idea to share such plans with your doctor.