Pair temptations and exercise for success!

We’re one month into the New Year and we hope that new gym membership is being utilized to its full potential! Even though we feel better inside and out when we get our daily recommended 30-60 minutes of physical activity, getting back into a workout routine after a hiatus can be difficult. So, what can you do to nudge your brain towards turning healthy intentions into reality? 

Temptation bundling is a psychological technique that can help you get to the gym by combining pleasurable activities with exercise. How does it work? Maybe you discovered a sensational podcast or tempting TV series and you’re teetering on whether you should stay in and relax or bust out an hour-long cycling session. The idea is to combine these activities, so you only listen to the podcast or watch the TV show when you’re exercising. One study investigating this technique found that individuals who were given gym-only access to iPods with tempting audiobooks worked out 51% more often than control group participants. Some even reported they craved daily gym sessions just to catch-up with their favorite page-turners.

Let’s take temptation bundling beyond exercise and audiobooks and consider how you can use this technique to drive you towards success in other areas of your life. Start by dividing a blank page into two columns. On the left side, make a list of your regular activities and habits that need reinforcement, for example, washing the dishes or doing laundry. On the right side, make a list of ways you can reward yourself (temptations) for completing those activities. These temptations should not be food related. Browse your lists and link your temptations with behaviors to create healthy habits! If you need some inspiration, check out the bundling rule ideas below:

Regular Activities / Habits that Need Reinforcement Temptations
Go to the gym Stop at your favorite coffee spot
Jog or run on the treadmill Watch Netflix
Wash and fold laundry Listen to your favorite podcast
Reach 10,000 steps on your fitness tracker Put on your favorite pair of comfy sweats
Finish washing and drying dishes from dinner Have dessert
Complete your weekly to-do list Get a pedicure
Finish vacuuming Play video games
Cycle, stair climb or walk on the treadmill Read tabloids
Meet up with a family member you hardly ever see Eat at your favorite Indian restaurant
Finish taking the dog for a walk Check social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)