3 tiny changes to nudge you toward a more active life

As a society, we’re obsessed with convenience. We’re all about discovering a new shortcut, or a cheaper, faster, better way to do something. With all of life’s competing priorities, we’re looking for ways to make it easier.

We take the escalator instead of walking up the stairs. We order products to our doorsteps instead of going out to get them. There are a multitude of convenient choices that have cut out that extra bit of physical activity from the picture.

But we think it’s time to turn the idea of convenience on its head.


Let’s introduce nudge theory into your daily routine. What is nudge theory? It’s a concept in behavioural science, that “that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives.”

One of the most frequently cited examples of a nudge is from Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport. To help men “improve their aim,” a housefly was etched into the men’s urinals.Hilarious, but there is no denying that the nudge helped to influence their behaviour.

We think you can use nudge theory to make exercise easier to achieve.


1. The secret is in your space.

There’s a reason that people love to hang motivational quotes as art. Our environment can affect our mood and a visual reminder can be a powerful motivator. Research suggests that the physical space we live in has in indirect effect on our behaviour. Plan to post a visual reminder at home or at work to get you moving, or even as a screensaver on your smartphone.

2. Make it the most obvious choice.

Our brains are wired to look for the easiest choice. Many of the decisions we make every day have a default option—take your daily commute for example. You probably take the same route to work and the same route home every day. But what if you tried to sneak in some physical activity and cycle? To make this a more obvious choice, you could leave your bike and helmet next to your front door. That way, you can’t leave the house without seeing it, and it’s ready for you to ride at a moment’s notice.

3. Team up.

We are strongly influenced by what others do. If your friends or colleagues are doing something, chances are you’ll want to join them. Be proactive and team up with a friend to do something active on a regular basis—a walking group, an exercise class, something active that you know you’ll both enjoy. Seeing others be active, or making a commitment to be active with friends, can both nudge you towards more movement.

There are many different strategies to help you be more active in your daily life – and nudges, are just one of them. This proven approach makes the choice to be more physically active, your new default. Give yourself one less thing to think about in your busy day by giving it a try: Leave your sneakers nearby, set a calendar reminder, or make an active date with a friend or family member. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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