Setting Goals Pays Off – and other news

by DavalosMcCormack on January 8, 2009

As millions of Americans are probably already finding out, again, one of the hardest New Years Resolutions to keep is starting and maintaining an exercise program, particularly if you haven’t been active for a while. But now a new study has some encouraging findings on how you can increase your odds of sticking with your resolution.

The study, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that workplace programs that encourage employees to set exercise goals paid off in many different ways, and increased the odds they would stick with their exercise programs.

The researchers followed more than 1,400 people for three months, half were left to their own devices, the other half were given regular individual and team physical activity goals. The researchers than tracked the activity levels of both groups using pedometers.

They found that 51 percent of the group given activity goals kept up their exercise program, logging at least five 30-minute moderate exercise sessions a week or three 20-minute vigorous sessions. That compares with just 25 percent of the group who didn’t get goals or help.

It’s a reminder that we all need goals, and support from those around us, if we are going to succeed in leading a healthier lifestyle. So bear that in mind when you are trying to make big changes in your life.

More Small Screen Time Means More Big Kids

Here’s a shocker. Kids who spend more time playing video games spend less time being active. In short, if the kid is spending hours a day with the football video game “Madden NFL” they have no time left to actually go out and play real football.

The study was done at the New South Wales Centre of Overweight and Obesity at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Now the researchers couldn’t figure out if the video games lured kids away from more active pursuits and so were unfit, or that fit kids were less likely to sit down and play video games and more likely to play the real thing.

Either way, if you see the kids spending too much time in front of the TV or computer pick ’em up by the ears and chuck them outside. It’s for their own good.

Exercise Prescriptions Work

This is an interesting thought, just by having a doctor write you a prescription for exercise increases the chances you’ll boost your activity levels and stick with your workout program.

The study, published in BMJ, followed more than one thousand relatively inactive women between the ages of 40 and 74 in New Zealand and split them into two groups.

Women in the intervention group got a motivational visit from a nurse at the start of the program and then had monthly telephone calls for the duration of the study. The other group got nothing.

At the end of a year 43 percent of the women in the intervention group were exercising regularly compared to just 30 percent in the control group. Two years later women in the intervention group were still far more likely to be active than the women in the other group.

Maybe this isn’t so much a study about the value of support as a reminder to physicians, nurses and other caregivers that what they say to patients can have a big impact. Just having a medical professional encourage you to work out could actually help make it happen.

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