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2009-2010

Transforming Short-term Exercise Commitments into Long-term Habits

Researchers

  • Associate Professor, Medicine (CHP/PCOR)
Senior Fellow

Regular exercise promotes sustained weight loss, cardiovascular fitness, and better health outcomes, especially for individuals moving from middle to older ages. For those individuals who do not currently exercise, the challenge is to adopt a sustainable exercise regimen and stick to it - making it a part of their lifestyle in the long-term. Such changes are particularly difficult because long-term exercise plans can be disrupted by the necessities, distractions, and temptations of every-day life.

The research will be conducted in two phases: 1) a pilot phase designed to test the feasibility of changing defaults and the expected shift in chosen contract values based on changes in these defaults; 2) an implementation phase designed to test changes in successful contract completion based on shifts in the duration and frequency of the contract and its link to longer-term success in continuing to exercise.

The proposed research evaluates optimal commitment contracts for promoting long-term sustained exercise. The pilot study provides initial evidence on the effectiveness of anchoring in shifting chosen contracts with a full study planned to evaluate the impact on regular exercise. The study focuses on individuals seeking help to engage in exercise. As regular exercise has been shown to promote health and prevent chronic disease, this work provides and important, concrete, scientifically valid test of how best to promote regular exercise. Such information is clearly both valuable and actionable for StickK.com as well as more generally in exercise interventions targeting adults with sedentary lifestyles.