The case for a lifestyle review

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but what if you took many steps … instead of one? A new study published in March in the journal Frontiers in human neuroscience suggests that changing just one old habit at a time may be an old-fashioned way of thinking. For those of us who are embarking on the path to self-improvement, it is often recommended to take the path to well-being by adopting a new habit at the same time to create lasting change.

Scientific studies usually (though not always) consider and verify this by studying the cause and effect of one practice at a time (e.g., How Meditation Helps to Treat Chronic Depression), because it is much easier to analyze data and arrive at to conclusions when only a new element is introduced into the equation.

But researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara wondered if this proven and true mindset — when tested — is actually effective — was slowing our overall progress. They decided to find out whether or not a complete lifestyle review would have a greater impact on health and well-being, and whether in the end it was better to give up all bad habits at once, rather than tackling them slowly. little.

The researchers brought together 31 college students with flexible daily schedules and subjected them to a series of physical, cognitive, and emotional tests. Before starting the experiment, brain scans were performed on each student. They were then divided into two groups: the first was a control group that continued with their routines as usual, and the other group underwent a total lifestyle review. For the next six weeks, the lifestyle review group spent every morning stretching for an hour, followed by strength and endurance training, balance exercises, and then an hour of workout based on awareness that included stress reduction techniques such as meditation. But that’s not all: in the afternoon, the group exercised again for another 90 minutes and also completed resistance training twice a week. They received nutritional advice and kept a daily diary of their exercise and diet, while monitoring their sleep cycles and mood levels.

At the end of the experiment, the students were tested again. It should come as no surprise that the control group did not change. However, the group that underwent a total lifestyle review was substantially fitter, happier, and more productive. His intellectual capacity received a great boost; Cognitive function, memory, and focus improved, and they had a greater sense of self-confidence.

The WELL blog of the New York Times themes:

These improvements, especially in measures to reduce mood and stress, generally far exceeded what had been seen in many past experiments whose subjects only altered behavior. The authors of the study suggest that one type of change, such as starting one exercise regimen, may amplify the effects of another, such as meditation. In addition, improvements persisted: According to Michael Mrazek, research director at the UCSB’s Center for Mindfulness & Human Potential and lead author of the study, another set of tests six weeks after the end of the experiment showed that students still change everything. they scored much higher than they originally did in terms of fitness, mood, thinking skills and well-being, although none of them were still exercising or meditating as much as they did during the experiment. .

All is well, but let’s be real: is a total lifestyle change really feasible for the average working adult? Maybe yes! Deep results like these, in such a short period of time, no less, are quite encouraging. Of course, it may seem daunting, if not impossible, to change everything at once, but knowing that in just six weeks it is possible to look, feel, and live better than ever is a serious motivation. Of course, there is nothing wrong with replacing a bad habit with a healthy one at the same time, but why not try to make two changes … or three … or four? Think of it as a six-week commitment to see if it works and then re-evaluate it. When you look at it this way, goal setting becomes much less disastrous and much more feasible in the long run.

andrea-rice-headshot-new-editAndrea Rice is a senior writer for Wanderlust Media. She is also a freelance yoga writer, editor and teacher. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Yoga Journal, SONIMA, mindbodygreen, AstroStyle and other online publications. You can find her regular classes at the Shambhala Dance and Yoga Center in Brooklyn and connect with her on Instagram. Twitter, and on its website.

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