Two Simple Ways To Improve Your Health
If there were two things you could do to improve your health would you do them? Of course the answer is, 'diet and exercise', but there’s more to it. There are specific strategies that can naturally lead to a healthier lifestyle without a complicated program or personal trainer. These two things, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, are better than starting a new workout routine or consciously lowering fat in your diet in the way of staying power.
Eat This, Don't Do That
The study of 204 participants between 21 and 60 with unhealthy habits, including diets with low fruit and vegetable intake and high saturated fat, as well as low physical activity and high sedentary behavior. They were split into four groups and asked to practice four behaviors over a three week period: 1) increase fruit and vegetable intake 2) decrease fat and sedentary behavior, 3) decrease fat and increase physical activity, and 4) increase fruit and vegetable intake and decrease sedentary behavior. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables daily and decreasing sedentary behavior won out. On average, intake increase from 1.2 servings of fruit and vegetables a day to 5.5, while sedentary behavior decreased from 219 minutes a day to just 89 minutes. A six-month follow-up showed those in the fourth group sustained healthier behavior.
The Key To Change
The key to the change observed in the group was simplicity. During the study participants were offered online coaching and financial incentives, but even after compensation stopped, their improvements in lifestyle remained. Dr. Bonnie Spring, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, "Just making two lifestyle changes has a big overall effect and people don't get overwhelmed." A secondary effect of their improved behavior caused an increase in physical activity and a decrease in saturated fat. While this is the goal of traditional dieting, the advice of how to replace the negative behavior of too much saturated fat and not enough physical activity was the key to change.
Self-Monitoring with Gadgets
One of the promising points of the study was the use of self-monitoring. Tracking your behavior has long been proven as a way to move toward a positive outcome, and this study was no different. The mode of monitoring however was different. While traditional ways of self-monitoring include writing in a journal or having in-person weekly weigh-ins, participants in this study used a "personal digital assistant" to record their targeted behaviors. In addition to using Calorie Count to track your food intake and physical activity, consider using your cell phone to encourage positive behavior. In addition to keeping notes by using the voice recorder or notepad, you can set a reminder text or email to only sit on the couch for 30 minutes, set pictures of your favorite fruit on your wallpaper, or find a health app that fits your needs.
Other than these, name two things that were a natural progression toward a healthier lifestyle?