Here's Why Taking Baby Steps to a Lifestyle Change May Be for the Birds

Here's Why Taking Baby Steps to a Lifestyle Change May Be for the Birds
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A new study suggests we should be tackling things whole hog.

As a kid (and admittedly even sometimes as an adult) I always wanted things to happen immediately. If there was a change for the better I set my sights on, it was nearly impossible for me to harness the patience required to take the “baby steps” necessary to make it happen. I was also regularly reminded that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

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Today I’m much more of a planner, breaking down a goal into smaller pieces in an effort to actually, you know, accomplish it. But a new study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience suggests that maybe little me was right all along – making a major change all at once is the way to go.  

The research team looked at two groups of college students over a six-week period, noting the effects of major lifestyle changes thrown at them. With approximately half of the students going about their typical daily routines as the control group, the others were instructed to follow a completely different schedule. This consisted of an hour of supervised exercise each morning including stretch, balance, and resistance training. Then, they received an hour lesson on mindfulness. Later on in the day, they had another 90-minute sweat session and were asked to complete two extra workouts on their own time. As if this wasn’t enough to get them into a healthy mindset, they also attended classes focused on nutrition and sleep, journaling everything about the experience along the way.

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While that kind of lifestyle change is nearly impossible for the average person (seriously, who can take the time off of work to fully immerse themselves in health and fitness?), the study found that the students in the latter group reported feeling more confident, less stressed out, and healthier than those who were in the control group.

Essentially, if you have the time to do it, throwing yourself 100 percent into a lifestyle change could be the way to go. Incremental steps aren’t as necessary as we previously thought in terms of being successful in changing bad habits as we previously thought.

Brb, going to clear my schedule for the next six weeks.

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