Nagging: Just What the Doctor Ordered

Leading a sedentary life isn't healthy—we all know that. Articles touting the benefits of exercise are everywhere we look and your doctor has told you repeatedly that regular workouts stave off chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. But that's still not enough to get you off the couch (it's just so comfy) and having a loved one nag and complain about your inactivity certainly won't help, right? Well, a new study suggests it might.

Researchers at the University of Lincoln in England studied the psychological effects of nagging associated with fitness on adults ages 30 to 60. In interviews with participants, researchers found that those who were the least active felt they needed a push in the right direction from those closest to them. In fact, many participants appreciated regular reminders and suggestions to go outside and remain active.

Tips to Get You Moving

Of course, relying on the nagging of friends and family isn't the only way to get you to change your couch potato ways. These tips can help you get on the right track.

1. List healthy behaviors. Health studies often point out what we're doing wrong. All this bad news causes us to neglect to acknowledge the healthy choices we do make regularly. It may seem obvious but listing healthy behaviors can actually help. Don't smoke? Write it down. Walk with your coworkers to lunch rather than drive? Make note of it. Follow this step, and you just may surprise yourself.

2. Set achievable, short-term goals. Shooting for the stars is wonderful. If you have a goal that you'd like to reach down the road, by all means, go for it. It's often the baby steps that take you there. If you haven't exercised in a while, try going for a 10-minute walk, three days a week. Slowly add to that routine and eventually you'll be able to cross the finish line of the 5K race you've had your heart set on.

3. Make it fun. Exercise doesn't have to be a boring series of repetitive movements at the gym. Simply going for a weekly bike ride or hike with your family is a step in the right direction. Competitive forms of exercise like boot camps or CrossFit can also be a fun, but intense, workout. The best way to stay active is to find an activity you enjoy doing.

4. Stay positive. You won't succeed if you don't believe you can. If you skip a day or two of activity, that's okay. Know that you'll try again tomorrow. The best part of exercise is that it's always available with a simple walk to the store or backyard game with your kids.

5. Reward yourself. After you've completed an exercise session, enjoy the moment and the feeling of accomplishment before you get on with the rest of your day. If you have a particularly good month, treat yourself to a new shirt or gadget.



British Psychological Society (BPS). "Why Nagging Can Be Good for Your Health." ScienceDaily, 18 Apr. 2012. Web. 10 May 2012.