Studies by other researchers have suggested that after eight weeks of regular exercising, many people can settle into a long-term habit of working out. And, more importantly, most studies have suggested that when people are trying to change unhealthy behaviors, they generally need something more than willpower alone. One such tool is social support, which helps prevent against relapse, particularly in individuals who prefer to work out in groups (35-40% of Americans). The other 60% of Americans prefer working out alone, especially people who have reached middle age and older who may socialize in groups less frequently. Such people may benefit most from joining a group or program that allows them to continue exercising on their own.

By way of example, in some states, health officials are sponsoring exercise programs that enable residents to join "teams" while working out on their own. In Kansas, a program called "Walk Kansas" divides tens of thousands of participants into teams of six, with each team expected to walk the width of Kansas (about 430 miles) in eight weeks. Team members always walk on their own in their respective communities, but report their weekly mileage to each other. An added bonus is that participants in such programs usually continue exercising far above their original levels long past the end of the contest.

More good news is that prior studies have found that telephone interventions of nearly every kind increase the exercise levels of previously sedentary people. Participants who receive phone calls even just once a month have consistently increased their exercise levels above control groups. Other researchers have reported that short-term programs have also effectively used print, in-person, or Internet delivery of exercise programming and participation reminders, although the long-term effectiveness of such interventions has not been assessed. Studies also have yet to assess the full impact of employing the latest social media—such as cell phone text messages, iPhone applications, online communities (e.g., Facebook and Twitter), or other high-tech outlets—in the fight to increase exercise adherence, but it is clear that many inventive ways may be employed in the coming years to get and actually work to help keep all of us more physically active! Feel free to think up your own way to give yourself the little "nudge" you need that will keep you moving more every day.
Sign up for 5 free healthy living reports via email or a very low-cost, weekly "nudge" via a 52-week fitness/lifestyle program at www.lifelongexercise.com. If you need tips for getting safely started on an exercise program, I recommend The 7 Step Diabetes Fitness Plan. For people with any type of diabetes who are already more active, consult the Diabetic Athlete's Handbook.

Read Sheri's bio here.

Read more of Sheri Colberg-Och's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

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Last Modified Date: February 15, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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