Roping in a buddy can help with New Year resolutions

'Buddy schemes' can help people follow diet plans,exercise regimes better,says a new study.

Written by Agencies | Washington | Published: January 6, 2012 10:41 am

Find it hard to stick to new year resolutions? Partnering up or planning them out with a friend,family or colleagues can help.

A new study has suggested that ‘buddy schemes’ can make a big difference to people following dieting plans,health programmes and could be integrated into government well-being initiatives.

“Specific plans regarding when,where and how a person will act have been termed ‘implementation intentions’,” said Professor Mark Conner from the Institute of Psychological Science at the University of Leeds.

“We already know that these kinds of plans can be really effective. You set up cues that prompt your planned behaviour – ‘if I walk to work on Monday,then I will jog home’,‘if I feel hungry before lunch then I will eat an apple,not a chocolate bar.’”

But research by Professor Conner and his colleagues Dr Andrew Prestwich and Dr Rebecca Lawton from the University of Leeds has now demonstrated that this effect can be made even stronger if you get other people – friends,family,colleagues involved too.

The Leeds team worked with employees from 15 councils who volunteered to participate in two studies attempting to increase their levels of exercise or improve their diet.

Some employees were just left to do it on their own; others were asked to recruit a partner. A third group were encouraged to develop ‘if…then…’ plans,and a fourth group was told to makes these ‘if…then’ plans with a partner.

“We followed up after one,three and six months to see how the employees were doing. And it was quite clear that working together and joint planning really helped employees stick to their new exercise regimes.”

“Moreover,the involvement of a partner in planning had a sustained effect that was still noticeable after six months,” Conner added.

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