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Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that setting realistic exercise goals each day can help people stay fit or lose more weight. The study also found that gamifying your workout and competing against others can also help keep you healthy. These techniques are even more useful for people with low incomes and those at risk of developing heart disease.

How researchers conducted the study

The researchers gathered 500 volunteers from low-income areas. The participants either had cardiovascular disease or were at risk of developing it in ten years. First, researchers gave them a wearable step tracker to track their health. Then, they separated them into two teams. One team had goals while the other, which was the control, did not. They also let some of the participants set their objectives.

Results showed that the group that chose their own goals had a significant increase in physical activity and started to walk immediately. In addition, the volunteers increased their steps by an average of 1,400 daily. They also worked out longer and increased their activity by 4 minutes each day.

Setting personal goals helps to accomplish exercise objectives

According to an associate professor of medicine at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, Dr. Mitesh Patel, setting goals is usually implemented in many behavioral change programs. However, scientists know little about how best to design such a process. This study showed that patients who set their own goals have the best chance of succeeding. The goals should also start immediately instead of starting with a lower objective and increasing it over time. The findings based on patients from low-income households were especially beneficial as this group might find it harder to achieve health goals.

The Center for Health Incentives and Behavioural Economics director, Dr. kelvin Volpp, adds that people who set their goals are more likely to meet them as they are more invested and motivated to get to them.

Dr. Volpp states that setting goals are an essential part of any physical activity program. This study shows an approach that fitness trainers can take to ensure the success of their program and improvement of the client’s health.