How are you doing with your New Year’s Resolutions?

by Barbara J. Moore, PhD, President and CEO, Shape Up America!™

John Baden, an economist, points out that human behavior is heavily influenced by two “I” factors: information and incentives. He says that when it comes to information, we are already well aware that weight management, sound nutrition and exercise are good for our health. More information about this is not needed. Instead, he argues that most people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions because of a failure to consider the other “I” — the incentives.

For example, Baden recently argued that the reason people do not keep their resolution to exercise is that they don’t select the right location for their home exercise equipment. He urges us to purchase dependable second hand exercise equipment (perhaps from a local health club) and to place it in an attractive location, decorated so that you want to be there on a regular basis. Baden says: “Appearance matters a great deal. People are drawn to some places, repelled by others. Nice rugs, windows or pictures and a good TV add a lot to your WO (workout) room.”

When it comes to joining an exercise club, Baden suggests building in the incentive of companionship. Joining with a friend or taking the time to make friends with other members who belong to your club is one way to do this. All of this rings true to us at Shape Up America! Making a few new friends who share your interest in living a more physically active lifestyle can be very helpful. Meeting together to exercise or to share tasty recipes for healthier eating can leverage companionship. This may be just the “I” — the incentive you need to reinforce your resolutions.

We would certainly agree that incentives are important. With some thought on your part, you can figure out what incentives are important to you and make it more likely you will keep your commitments. Devising incentives that will reinforce your resolutions is something worth thinking about.

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