Want to keep your exercise resolutions? New research offers pointers
New research reveals factors that helped some commit to a year-long exercise program. Credit: Photo courtesy of Edward McAuley
Sticking with an exercise routine means being able to overcome the obstacles that invariably arise. A key to success is having the confidence that you can do it, researchers report. A new study explores how some cognitive strategies and abilities increase this "situation-specific self-confidence," a quality the researchers call "self-efficacy."
"You can apply the concept of self-efficacy to every single health behavior you can think of because in many ways that really is what gets us through the day, gets us through the tough times," said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley, who led the research. "People who are more efficacious tend to approach more challenging tasks, work harder and stick with it even in the face of early failures."
Those lacking self-efficacy often won't even try to start a new routine, or will quit at the earliest sign of difficulty, McAuley said. "Almost 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out in the first six months," he said.
All is not lost, however, for those with low self-efficacy, McAuley said. Research has shown that there are ways to increase your confidence in relation to specific goals. Remembering previous successes, observing others doing something you find daunting and enlisting others' support can increase your self-efficacy enough to get you started. Every step toward your goal will further increase your confidence, he said.
In the new study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, McAuley and his colleagues were interested in whether specific cognitive abilities and strategies enhanced older adults' ability to stay with an exercise program by boosting their self-efficacy.
The researchers conducted a battery of cognitive tests on 177 men and women in their 60s and early 70s and also asked them whether and how often they set goals for themselves, monitored their progress, managed their time and engaged in other "self-regulatory" behaviors.
"These self-regulatory processes are really concerned with our ability to plan, to schedule physical activity into our daily life, to inhibit undesirable responses, such as sitting in front of the TV when you could be out working in your yard or walking around the block," McAuley said. "These processes can be measured in a very objective way."
The cognitive tests were "measures such as spatial memory, being able to multitask and being able to inhibit undesirable responses," he said. Collectively, these tests assess what is known as "executive function."
Participants were then randomly assigned either to a stretching, toning and balance program or a walking program that met three times a week for a year. Their self-efficacy was assessed after three weeks in the program.
The researchers found that some abilities and strategies did increase participants' adherence to the exercise programs. Two executive function skills the ability to multitask and to inhibit undesirable responses significantly contributed to adherence by increasing self-efficacy, the researchers found. And more frequent use of self-regulatory strategies such as goal-setting, time management, self-monitoring and recruiting others for support increased study subjects' participation in the program again, by boosting their self-efficacy, McAuley said.
"We can potentially use this information to identify who might be poor adherers to an exercise program," McAuley said. "And then offer those people an array of different coping skills and strategies to inhibit or overcome bad behaviors."
Because executive function declines with age, McAuley said, previously sedentary older adults hoping to exercise more will likely benefit most if they adopt strategies that help them manage obstacles and build their self-efficacy.
Other studies have shown that aerobic exercise such as walking improves brain function in older adults. Thus, participation in an exercise program is likely to enhance cognitive functions that raise self-efficacy, positively reinforcing a person's ability to pursue his or her exercise goals, McAuley said.
More information: "Self-Regulatory Processes and Exercise Adherence in Older Adults," American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Mastery of physical goals lessens disease-related depression and fatigue Dec 15, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Attention, couch potatoes! Walking boosts brain connectivity, function Aug 26, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Exercise program improves symptoms in arthritis patients Jan 04, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Different psychosocial factors predict adoption, maintenance of physical activity program Oct 22, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Building confidence increases short-term exercise gains in COPD patients May 17, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Talking on a hands-free device while behind the wheel can lead to a sharp increase in errors that could imperil other drivers on the road, according to new research from the University of Alberta.
Health 7 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—More than one in four of those eligible for new premium assistance tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) do not have a checking account and will not be able to receive premiums from ...
Health 9 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
After studying noise in one French Quarter neighborhood of New Orleans to determine whether or not noise levels exceeded municipal ordinances, Annette Hurley, PhD, Assistant Professor of Audiology at LSU Health Sciences Center ...
Health 11 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Young children who missed more than half of recommended well-child visits had up to twice the risk of hospitalization compared to children who attended most of their visits, according to a study published today in the American Jo ...
Health 11 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
The individualisation of drug treatments to support patients to self-manage their conditions is a concept that sits at the heart of policy, but a recent study in BMJ Open shows that there is no concrete defini ...
Health 13 hours ago | 3 / 5 (1) | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
13 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Two mutations central to the development of infantile myofibromatosis (IM)—a disorder characterized by multiple tumors involving the skin, bone, and soft tissue—may provide new therapeutic targets, according to researchers ...
8 hours ago | 3 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
10 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Patients with diabetes who are depressed are much more likely to develop episodes of dangerously low blood sugars, or hypoglycemia, than are those who are not depressed, a new study has ...
15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |