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The power of pressure
Scene Health

The power of pressure

Making a commitment to exercise can make a difference

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If you committed to an exercise schedule and told others about it, would you be less likely to punk out on your workout?

The answer is yes, according to experts and a study conducted by Stanford University, which suggested public commitments and accountability may make you more likely to stick to a fitness plan.

Participants in the Stanford study were divided into three groups: Members of one group were contacted by a health educator every three weeks to check on their progress. In the other two, members were either contacted by a computer or did not receive reminder calls.

After a year, those who received calls from the educator exercised the most, almost 30 minutes more than the basic government recommendation of 150 minutes per week. Those who received computerized calls improved their fitness levels by exercising for slightly more than the weekly recommendations.

Those who didn't receive calls exercised the least — but still increased the amount they exercised compared to the start of the study.

Knowing they would have to report back appeared to motivate the participants, especially if they knew a person would be checking in.

When it comes to exercise goals, peer and social pressure can be a powerful motivator, says Jonathan Conneely, founder and president of Bootcamp Tulsa.

Participants in Conneely's bootcamps throughout the Tulsa area are encouraged to hold each other accountable — sharing goals and checking up on one another through the bootcamp Facebook page.

"Accountability is huge," Conneely said. "One of the big things we teach is how to be accountable to yourself. But people also build friendships through the group and then they don't want to miss, because they feel like they will let their buddies down."

Bootcampers sign a contract when they join agreeing that if they don't show up for a session, their buddies and coaches can call them to find out why they missed.

Each participant is encouraged to find an accountability partner, either a buddy in the program or an outside friend, to check in with weekly, discussing goals, progress and any problems they're having, Conneely said. They also encourage using food logs and calorie counters to build accountability, transparency and develop healthy habits.

Those who embrace the spirit of camaraderie and accountability at Bootcamp Tulsa typically get better results, "without a doubt," Conneely said.

If you're having trouble meeting your fitness goals, finding a workout buddy, group or personal trainer may help you stay on track, experts say. And if you prefer solo workouts, signing up for an e-mail, phone or text message reminder or using social media and fitness websites may help you meet your goals just as well.

Accountability tools

iPing offers up to 30 free reminder phone calls a month for various services — wake up, medications, workouts: Million Miles offers free exercise tracking tools: Daily Mile and Daily Burn combine accountability tools with social media: offers free text message reminders for workouts: a workout buddy in your area: peaks offers free training software and tools: more about Bootcamp Tulsa at and BlackBerry offer free and/or inexpensive apps, such as FitDeck or NotifyMe, that can help you track progress or remind you about a scheduled workout.

Cary Aspinwall 581-8477 SUBHEAD: Making a commitment to exercise can make a difference

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